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Macedonia: Peace March – Enthusiasm, Controversy

Today's March for Peace in Skopje has overwhelming support, evident through the positive uproar in social media. Lone voices, however, warn the initiative is used as a PR opportunity by celebrities, and even as a hypocritical alibi for known hatemongers.

Several videos in which a ‘Band Aid’ cast of local celebrities proclaim they are for a peaceful life together were published by the YouTube user ZaednoZaMir (Together for Peace). They received overwhelmingly positive response by social media users.

On the other hand, Jovana Tozija asked [mk]: “Pardonne moi, sleazeballs, where were you when we asked you to record a video…” as part of the protests against police brutality. She wrote [mk] she was not trying to undermine the March for Peace Initiative, but what she did mind [mk] was that people who did not have the decency to respond by declining were now jousting to get in front of the camera.

Seasoned blogger and human rights activist Zarko Trajanoski wrote [mk] that he would not attend the March for Peace, even though many of his closest friends would:

The reason is: I cannot stand the hypocrisy any more!

At first glance, the statement by the march organizers is enchanting: “We unite Gandhi-style, with the power of pacifism.” With curiousity, I see the famous faces, trying to recognize the Macedonian Gandhi who will unite us in nonviolent resistance to tyranny. I watch the TV screen intently, in vain searching for the Macedonian Gandhi. Instead, the director of ‘Ednooki', Alek Rusjakov, appears on Sitel TV and says: “This movement is not against anyone. It is not against the government, not against the opposition, not against a race, not against a nation, but for peace.”

“Ednooki” [The One-Eyed] is an animated TV show aired on TV stations owned by the coalition partners of the current government (first Kanal 5, currently SITEL; before it run on A1 while it was pro-government). The show usually includes statements demonizing the opposition, the dissenters from the NGO sector, and foreign diplomats. The show also caricatures key government figures in a positive, mild-mannered light. The same team also produces an “educational” TV series about the Ancient Macedon for the state TV. One of their “historical” claims is that homosexuality was not practiced by Ancient Macedonians, just by the Greeks.

Trajanoski continued:

Wait a minute. Freeze frame. The director of “Ednooki” as an initiator of peace march? Suddenly, we have to forget that “Ednooki” is a hate-mongering series that incites hate against all who criticize the work of the government?
We have to forget that “Ednooki” promotes ethnic and other kinds of stereotypes and prejudices that create an atmosphere of hate and violence? The last time I watched “Ednooki” the A1 TV journalists were portrayed as violators and criminals, while the special police forces which occupied the TV-station were presented as victims of violence. And at least several people have told me that in the “art” work by Rusjakov, the character representing me has been shown as being shot by gun.

Personal is political. I cannot “march” for peace together with the hate-propagandist Alek Rusjakov. Would the victims of Nazi propaganda join Goebbels if he called for a march for peace between the members of the pure Aryan race and the “degenerics”? Would you join [Latas] if he invited you to march for peace between the “lice,” “cunts,” “savages,” and Macedonians? Would you join Milenko if he called for march for peace between the “guardian” Macedonians and the “treacherous bastards”? Would you join Janko “Jadi Burek” if he called for peace between the believers and the “bunch of gays and atheists” who were [forcefully dislocated from the square]?

Please, I am sick of hypocrisy. I won't march for peace together with hatemongers. I will peacefully protest against the haters – the propagandists of the regime which amnesties war criminals and tortures political prisoners who get 109 years in jail.

Anonymous readers commenting on Trajanoski's post said they would go to the march even though they agreed with some of his arguments. One of them provided a link to an interview [mk] by Rusjakov in which he claims that members of NGOs who disagree with the government's decisions (“Sorosids”) are traitors on the Greek chauvinist payroll who enjoy being sodomized by the Greeks while working on changing the Macedonian identity.

Some pointed out that the protests against police brutality had been joined by some opposition figures, and they still attended even though they were not supporters of those political parties.

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