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Archbishop Jovan (John) VI

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COMMUNIQUE OF THE HELSINKI COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN SKOPJE

Filed under: General — August 9, 2005 @ 11:30 am

On August 9, 2005, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Skopje issued a Press Release entitled “On the Desecularization of the Republic of Macedonia” most strongly objecting to any form of restriction of the freedom of belief and religion.

The Helsinki Committee called upon the state to abide by both the international documents it had accepted and the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, according to which: the restriction of the freedoms and rights, even in war conditions, may not encompass … the freedom of belief, consciousness, thought, public expression of the thought and religion. The Communique states that the state has failed to protect the freedom of belief of all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia equally over the past period, and that it has demonstrated unhidden preference towards one religious community, the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church, whose interests and problems have been raised to the level of state interests. The Communique also cites the case of the violence in the Islamic Religious Community, and the problems faced by the Bekteshi religious community to exercise a constitutionally guaranteed right, where the state was passive and failed to undertake appropriate measures.

It is emphasized that the Law on Religious Communities was used for direct interference of the state and its structures in the case associated with the establishing of the Archdiocese of Ochrid, as well as for direct violation of several basic human rights (the right to confession of faith, the right to privacy, the right to movement and the right to equitable trial).

The non-secularity of the state was manifested on several occasions and in different ways at all levels of authority. The Helsinki Committee cites the following instances: the Declaration for Supporting the MOC passed in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia; the Decision of the Commission for Relations with the Religious Communities and the Religious Groups to deny registration of the Archdiocese of Ochrid; and abuse of the police (the activity or the passivity thereof depending on whose rights needed to be protected) in the interventions that it had undertaken.

A flagrant manifestation of the non-secular nature that the Macedonian state has acquired cited by the Helsinki Committee is the accusation, the trial and the sentence pronounced the Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, His Beatitude Jovan Vraniskovski, the head of the Archdiocese of Ochrid.

The explanation included in the sentence is a classical example of a manifested religious hatred and intolerance. The Bitola court of first instance further sent Archbishop Jovan to serve the prison sentence in “Idrizovo” (instead of the Bitola prison) and revoked the conditional prison sentence in another matter, even though this revocation is absolutely out of line with the current practice of the courts in the Republic of Macedonia.

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