Address of the Aegean Macedonians to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Balkan Monitor News Letter February 1996

The Association of Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia recently addressed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, and requested Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia (northern Greece) to be recognized their status of political refugees. The document submitted reads:

‘The Association of Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia is an Association of Macedonians expelled from Greece, more precisely from the Aegean Part of Macedonia, during the Greek Civil War (1945 – 1949). For Greek people, it was a civil war, and for Macedonians it was a liberating one – a war to obtain national equality with Greek people in Greece, to obtain the right for Macedonian language, alphabet, religion, history, tradition, and everything that makes the identity of a nation.

Our fathers, brothers and sisters fought under the Greek flag in the wars with Turkey, Italy and Hitler’s Germany next to Greeks. During the Civil War from 1945 – 1949, Macedonian people fought together with the progressive forces of the Greek people against the monarcho-fascists in Greece, to establish a democratic society. They fought to bring a democratic government that would pass modern laws and guarantee the freedom and the human rights of all, including minorities who live in Greece.

The participation of Macedonians in the Civil War was abused by the Greek chauvinistic regime to finish the genocide upon Macedonians, started at the period of Metaxas regime and even before it. That regime used all the possible ways and means of terrorizing, torturing, raping, murdering, rigged trials and expelling. Their methods were even more cruel than those used by fascists.

The following data show the terror of the monarcho-fascists in Greece upon the Macedonian people in the period from February 1945 till May 1947:

Murdered
Raped women
Imprisoned
Put on trial
Convicted
Interned
Kostur (Kastoria)
66
42
596
320
285
122
Lerin (Florina)
90
96
3 000
1 500
1 200
500
Voden (Edessa)
74
150
2 050
1 950
1 300
550
Enidje Vardar
48
9
810
430
430
115
Total
278
297
6 456
4 200
3 215
1 287

 

Bitten
Tortured
Burned houses
Robbed villages
Villages expelled
Unemployed
Kostur (Kastoria)
1 369
6
110
10
350
1 365
Lerin (Florina)
10 000
5
60
4 500
2 500
Voden (Edessa)
1 080
2
813
80
7 898
4 800
Enidje Vardar
1 000
1
268
10
1 190
400
Total
13 449
14
1 191
160
13 938
9 065

 

After the war ended in 1949, the terror, exiles, tortures and frightening of Macedonians continued. The people continued to look for salvation in foreign countries. All Macedonians’ houses were spied 24 hours a day, as they were not allowed to speak their mother tongue.

Cases like the following happened: Macedonians from more than 100 villages were gathered in the village Krpeshino near Lerin (today’s Florina), in the presence of Greek nationalists, the Lerin Bishop and priests, and were forced to give the following statement:

“I promise in the eyes of God, people and the state, that I shall from today on stop to speak in the Slav dialect, which can only provoke misunderstandings with the enemies of our country, that I will always and everywhere speak in the official language of our country, the Greek language, in which the Holy Gospel of our Jesus Christ was written.”

The next years were marked by the economic migration provoked by the general situation, but also because Macedonians were not given work, and were sabotaged in all possible ways in the field of economy. Due to all the above mentioned reasons, the ethnic structure of the villages and towns in northern Greece was changed, and the established policy for ethnic cleansing gave its results.

However, despite the fact that half a century has passed from the Civil War and despite the ethnic changes were made, Greek authorities have continued their genocide measures upon the Macedonians in Greece. Our brothers and sisters who remained in the country and endured all the pressures, still can not speak in their mother tongue, must not use their alphabet, do not have the right to practice their religion, tradition, press, radio or any other civil right. They are even forbidden to have their tombstones writings written in Macedonian.

We, Macedonians, expelled from our native places to all over the world, can not enter in Greece, although we all have regular passports of the countries we live in now, because we are not Greek by birth!

According to the Statute of the UNHCR, Article 10, as According to the Statute of the UNHCR, Article 10, as political refugees we are guaranteed the right to double citizenship, to free entering and living in Greece, and to possess and work on our properties.

1. We ask from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to intercede with the Greek authorities for us to be given the possibility to regularly use these rights;

2. We, who now live in the Republic of Macedonia, in former Eastern European and Asian countries, in Western Europe and overseas, to be able to freely enter Greece and to govern with our parent’s properties there;

3. We demand our returning to the native country not to be conditioned by anything;

4. We want to be able to return as ethnic Macedonians, with our national names;

5. Our brothers and sisters who still live in Greece to be allowed to use their Macedonian first and family names, and all the toponyms to be returned to what they were;

6. Macedonians who live in Greece to be allowed to have papers in Macedonian language, written in Cyrillic alphabet; to have radio and TV program in Macedonian, besides those in the official Greek language;

7. Macedonians who live in foreign countries to be issued documents by their countries diplomatic and consular offices in Athens for free crossing of the Greek border;

8. To carry out a free census in Greece, and an international monitoring commission to be sent in the northern part, so that the people are given the right to freely declare their nationality;

9. We want the Greek Government to translate in Macedonian language of all international instruments on human rights.

We express our gratitude in advance for fulfilling our requirements.

Political refugees settled, data issued in October 1950:

Romania
Czechoslovakia
Poland
Hungary
Bulgaria
USSR
Men
1 981
4 000
4 730
2 161
1 583
8 573
Women
1 939
3 475
3 138
2 233
764
3 407
Children
5 132
4 148
3 590
2 859
672
Total
9 052
11 623
11 458
7 253
3 019
11 980
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