The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) denounced Thursday Albania’s state-sponsored persecution of its Macedonian minority during the implementation of its census.
According to the two activist groups, in the region of Golo Brdo, census taker instructors openly stated that the Macedonian language will be excluded as an answer to the question of what language is spoken at home. “This was later confirmed in the field and other reports assert that census takers have been skipping questions 38 and 39 which pertain to language spoken and to ethnicity,” the groups claimed.
“We feel like a threatened species, we are simply erased” declared Edmond Osmani, Vice President of MAEI.
The AMHRC and MHRMI claim that although it is officially denied, the Albanian state applies a rigid minority zones policy.
“If you leave a minority zone, like the Prespa region, you automatically lose your status as a Macedonian and become Albanian” said Vasil Sterjo, from the Macedonian Alliance for European Integration (MAEI).
According to AMHRC and MHRMI, in Macedonia, on the other hand, the Albanian minority have illegally increased their numbers, “evidently to show that ethnic Albanians amount to 20% of the total population of the Republic of Macedonia, so that Albanians can maintain a privileged status among Macedonia’s ethnic minorities. Field reports indicate that two censuses are taking place: one in parts of Western Macedonia where ethnic Albanians live and another one in the rest of the country. In Western Macedonia, identification methods contrary to international regulations have been implemented.”
AMHRC and MHRMI said they condemn the Albanian government for its refusal to amend its minority policy practices and its refusal to heed a joint declaration signed by Albania’s minority representatives earlier this year.
“We call on the EU, OSCE and other relevant institutions to recognise the invalidity of the census in Albania and the severe irregularities in Macedonia and to take steps that will ensure proper census implementation,” said AMHRC and MHRMI.