To the President of the United States of America Mr. Barack Obama
I write this letter with great respect to you Mr. Barack Obama and to The United States of America. The USA is the undisputed leader of the democratic world. It is a defender of democracy and human rights. I am glad to write this letter to the Head of State hoping that you will read it personally. I write this letter in a language other than my own because I cannot and dare not use the language of my father and grandfather as in the country where I use to live I’ve been forbidden to speak, write or receive an education in my native Bulgarian language. I am not even allowed to openly declare my Bulgarian nationality. The country responsible for this is the Republic of Macedonia.
Mr. Obama I am asking you from the bottom of my heart and in the name of God, our Lord and Shepherd. Our God-given right of free thought, speech and self-identification has been denied to us in Macedonia by the dictator Gruevski. It’s only been denied to us Bulgarians. I, Zdravko Zdraveski, my family and my people want to be treated as human beings, as people, to self-identify as Bulgarians because that’s who we are: Macedonian Bulgarians who unfortunately happen to live in Macedonia where the government led by the dictator Gruevski has forbidden the word “Bulgarian”. It is difficut, very difficult. In your country where you live, work and think freely where the law provides man, regardless of race, color or nation, the fundamental right to life and self-identification. It’s a comfort to know that democracy reigns there; at the same time I’m saddened to see the iron fist of dictatorship ruling the country of Macedonia while we Bulgarians have been denied these rights. Mr. President, the Bulgarian people in Macedonia and I want to be Bulgarians but we aren’t allowed to. In your country there is an act defending even the rights of animals and that’s commendable. I’m sorry to say that in Macedonia even those rights do not apply to us Bulgarians. According to the Macedonian government we Bulgarians stand even lower than animals. Could I say what I feel I am? I could, if I felt I was a Turk, a Roma, a Hunza, a Serb but if in Macedonia I say I feel Bulgarian that will lead to repression, harassment, discrimination, assimilation and eventually murder. Is anything permitted in Macedonia? Everything is permitted – everything apart from being Bulgarian. We Bulgarians in Macedonia believe that one day great men like you will put an end to the dictatorship and genocide committed on my Bulgarian people by Gruevski and his henchmen that are happening in the 21th century before the eyes of the whole world. We believe in you and we are certain that you will stand in defense of our human rights. We believe you will do it because you are a democrat and, above all, a defender of human rights. We believe that with our support we will get our right back. We want to have the right of identity, of education, of medical care, of establishing media and political association like other minorities in Macedonia.
Genocide, discrimination, assimilation and murder, violations of human rights are part of the everyday life of Macedonia. Hoping that this letter attracts your attention and looking forward to your answer I would like to inform you in detail about the human rights violations in Macedonia.
Before I inform you further about this, I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Zdravko Zdraveski, born on 26.01.1964 in the town of Prilep, Macedonia, but at present I live in Bourgas, Bulgaria. Repressed and offended due to my Bulgarian nationality I’ve been forced to emigrate. I’m writing to you in fear for the safety of my children as well as my own, but I hope that this question will be raised in the European Parliament and for the benefit of not only myself but also the whole Bulgarian people living in Macedonia.
To be clear, let me begin by quoting one of the preambules of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.
Taking as the points of departure the historical, cultural, spiritual and statehood heritage of the Macedonian people and their struggle over centuries for national and social freedom as well as for the creation of their own state, and particularly the traditions of statehood and legality of the Krushevo Republic and the historic decisions of the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the People's Liberation of Macedonia, together with the constitutional and legal continuity of the Macedonian state as a sovereign republic within Federal Yugoslavia and the freely manifested will of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia in the referendum of September 8th, 1991, as well as the historical fact that Macedonia is established as a national state of the Macedonian people, in which full equality as citizens and permanent co-existence with the Macedonian people is provided for Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Romanies and other nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia, and intent on:
- the establishment of the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state, as well as a civil and democratic one;
- the establishment and consolidation of the rule of law as a fundamental system of government;
- the guaranteeing of human rights, citizens, freedoms and ethnic equality;
- the provision of peace and a common home for the Macedonian people with the nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia;
- the provision of social justice, economic wellbeing and prosperity in the life of the individual and the community,
The Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia adopts THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
This is the introduction to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, which is not respected by Macedonia itself. As it is obvious, Bulgarians who live in Macedonia do not figure in the abovementioned group of countries and nationalities. Should we believe such a state? A state that does not honor its own laws?
Article 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia contains the following:
- Sovereignty in the Republic of Macedonia derives from the citizens and belongs to the citizens.
- The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia exercise their authority through democratically elected Representatives, through referendum and through other forms of direct expression.
We, Bulgarians in Macedonia, are citizens, too; however, we have been denied the right of having a representative.
We Bulgarians are not allowed to call for referendum regarding important issues of national interest. Is this not discrimination?
The fundamental values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia are:
- the basic freedoms and rights of the individual and citizen, recognized in international law and set down in the Constitution;
- the free expression of national identity;
- the rule of law;
- the division of state powers into legislative, executive and judicial;
- political pluralism and free, direct and democratic elections;
- the legal protection of property;
- the freedom of the market and entrepreneurship;
- humanism, social justice and solidarity;
- local self-government;
- proper urban and rural planning to promote a congenial human environment, as well as ecological protection and development; and
- respect for the generally accepted norms of international law.
Anything that is not prohibited by the Constitution of by law is permitted in the Republic of Macedonia.
What fundamental values does this article discuss?
What human freedoms and rights recognized in international law?
What free expression of national identity?
Personally, I do not understand and I do not believe. On the occasions when I, Zdravko Zdraveski, my mother, father, and my friends have identified ourselves as Bulgarians, we have been arrested, harassed, beaten and even killed, only for stating our Bulgarian nationality.
Is this not genocide, Mr. President? Is it not assimilation, discrimination and psychological pressure? Not to mention, after an individual identifies him/herself as Bulgarian, this is followed by fixed, unfair trials.
II. BASIC FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND CITIZEN
1. Civil and political freedoms and rights
Citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political and religious beliefs, property and social status.
All citizens are equal before the Constitution and law.
What equality are we talking about?
Not only does the government of Macedonia refuse to listen to us Bulgarians, but it also incites hatred towards us by means of movies, written media and Internet sites. The most recent example of hate-mongering is the film titled “Third Halftime”.
The human right to life is irrevocable. The death penalty shall not be imposed on any grounds whatsoever in the Republic of Macedonia.
This article concerns the human right to life.
I want to ask then who ordered to kill me. I know the answer and I am going to talk about it in front of the European Parliament. But I am not going to mention names in this text. I will not talk only about myself but about many lives that have been taken as well.
The human right to physical and moral dignity is irrevocable. Any form of torture, or inhuman or humiliating conduct or punishment, is prohibited. Forced labour is prohibited.
This article is about physical and moral integrity and about every act of torture, humiliation and inhumane attitude being forbidden.
In practice, it is not forbidden; on the contrary, it is allowed by the Macedonian authorities.
Mr. President of the United States, not only is it not forbidden but there are new methods of psychological and physical torture and inhumane attitude inflicted on people. I will now present several arguments regarding the things inflicted on me and my family.
In 2003 when I was working as a policeman for the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Macedonia, a minister of that government was personally present as my wife and children were beaten and humiliated, an act personally overseen by a high-level officer of the Ministry of the Interior (whose names I shall not mention in this letter). On their orders my wife was insulted, beaten and humiliated in our own house in front of our four young children.
In 2009 while I was serving my sentence in the prison of Prilep, the prison wardens pulled my teeth out with a pair of pliers and without anesthesia. The whole day afterwards I was kept tied up in the toilets, forced to inhale hydrochloric acid, and at the same time the beasts who tortured me spat on me, cussed at me, called me “a Bulgarian dog” and even urinated over me. All this - just because I called myself a Bulgarian.
As for the other acts of torture and humiliation I will talk about in front of all of you, Mr. President.
The human right to freedom is irrevocable. No person’s freedom can be restricted except by a court decision or in cases and procedures determined by law. Persons summoned, apprehended or detained shall immediately be informed of the reasons for the summons, apprehension or detention and on their rights. They shall not be forced to make a statement. A person has a right to an attorney in police and court procedure. Persons detained shall be brought before a court as soon as possible, within a maximum period of 24 hours from the moment of detention, and the legality of their detention shall there be decided upon without delay. Detention may last, by court decision, for a maximum period of 90 days from the day of detention. Persons detained may, under the conditions determined by law, be released from custody to conduct their defence.
A person indicted for an offence shall be considered innocent until his/her guilt is established by a legally valid court verdict. A person unlawfully detained, apprehended or convicted has a right to legal redress and other rights determined by law.
In my case, as well as in others, the Ministry of Interior proclaimed me guilty publicly, with no prior police investigation. No court procedure was carried out and up until my appearance in court I was not informed about either the charges against me or the reasons why I was being held in custody; without any proof presented, I was quickly given a two-year sentence whose term I served doubled. The time I had spent arrested and imprisoned prior to the court decision was not subtracted from my sentence as it should have been according to law.
Citizens are guaranteed freedom of association to exercise and protect their political, economic, social, cultural and other rights and convictions. Citizens may freely establish associations of citizens and political parties, join them or resign from them. The programmes and activities of political parties and other associations of citizens may not be directed at the violent destruction of the constitutional order of the Republic, or at encouragement or incitement to military aggression or ethnic, racial or religious hatred or intolerance. Military or paramilitary associations which do not belong to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Macedonia are prohibited.
As we all know, in the Republic of Macedonia there are a number of political parties of Albanians, Roma, Serbs, Turks, Bosnians as well as their citizens’ associations. The political agendas of some of them call for the disruption of order and encourage hatred; still, they are allowed.
Only we Bulgarians in Macedonia are not allowed to form political parties and citizen associations of our own, we are sometimes even banned from commemoration services.
Each citizen is guaranteed the respect and protection of the privacy of his/her personal and family life and of his/her dignity and repute.
I have already explained how none of these rights have been granted to me or to anyone calling themselves Bulgarian in the Republic of Macedonia.
Everyone has a right to education.
Education is accessible to everyone under equal conditions.
Primary education is compulsory and free.
In Macedonia all nationalities have the right to be educated in their native language, for example Albanians, the Roma, Serbians, Turks have their own primary, secondary and higher education institutions where children are taught in their mother tongue.
Where do we Bulgarians figure here?
Not only is it forbidden to educate our children in their native Bulgarian language but they are also expelled and thrown out if the educational system when stating their Bulgarian nationality in front of the school principals. Not only is this right taken away from us but in 1944 the alphabet of our grandparents was changed. Why don’t we Bulgarians in Macedonia have the same right of education as the other nationalities living in the republic? Are we ever going to attain this right?
I, Zdravko Zdraveski, and my family can remain silent no longer. So we ask you, in the name of truth, in the name of democracy to let us tell the truth, to tell the truth about the Macedonian lies and about the discrimination, assimilation and genocide that they commit on us Bulgarians who live in Macedonia. Let us talk about the state that claims itself democratic and at the same time uses methods of torture from the 18th century, let us talk about the country that does not honour its own laws.
Once and for all, to tell the truth straight from the heart.
Mr. President, there is no way I can tolerate the forced assimilation and antiquisation that is being carried out by the present power in order to quietly assimilate the Bulgarians in Macedonia.
I, Zdravko, refuse to be called an antique Hunza simply because of the pressure of the state. I, Zdravko, and my family remain Bulgarians by nationality and nobody has the right to take away what they have not given to me.
Mr. President, let the truth see the light of day. The present government in the Republic of Macedonia carries out secret genocide, torture and discrimination against a whole Bulgarian diaspora living there. The fact that in the 21st century there is a country in the heart of Europe which encourages destabilization is unacceptable. It’s impermissible that a state and a government in the heart of Europe incite hatred towards the Bulgarians wherever they may reside. The state and the government which I am speaking of are called Macedonia.
I believe that, in your fair judgement, you will let me tell the truth.
The truth and nothing but the truth.