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Macedonian Anti-Fascists Protest Against Harassment

Vanco Dzambaski published a photo gallery from the gathering that took place on February 16 in the center of Skopje, commemorating the February Campaign of 1944, when Macedonian partisans marched through the snowy mountains to deal a decisive blow to the fascist forces in Macedonia and Northern Greece. World War II veterans and their supporters [mk] protested against the forced neglect of the Allied Forces’ achievements (which include the founding of the Macedonian state), and the continuous harassment of the veterans’ organization by the current government at all levels.

February March, Anti-Fascist Protest in Skopje, Macedonia

Anti-fascist protesters: “Proud of the past that actually happened.” Photo by V. Dzambaski (CC NC-SA)

In December 2012, the veterans’ organization [mk] was thrown out of their premises through a controversial court order, with the help from an out-of-town security agency [mk], after a local one failed [mk] to deal with the old fighters.

The city government tried to stop the February 16 protest [mk] by denying permission to use the public square. They claimed other events were scheduled in the area at the designated time, but refused to specify. The protesters decided to march anyway, continuing the tradition of the original February march, commenced against the will of the then-authorities.

Elderly participants in anti-fascist protest in Skopje, Macedonia

Keeping the memories alive. Photo by V. Dzambaski (CC NC-SA)

On the day of the protest, it was the only event there. Instead of covering the protest, the major pro-government media, such as SITEL TV, propagated the government's communiqué [mk] that announced their respect for the heritage of the World War II.

Media expert Roberto Belicanec wrote [mk; Wikipedia links added]:

1. No news whatsoever about what happened on the square.

2. The image of the monument to Čento, instead of the images of the event. Čento, because he is selected by the ruling party to demonstrate some meager connection to National Liberation War. Čento – abused for ideological whitewash of NLW, because he was not a communist, but participated in the [communist-led] movement.

3. A government spokesman in fact explained that “we witness that we have invested in creation of cultural heritage, to mark this important period of our history, including building of monuments such as to Metodija Andonov Čento, to the participants of ASNOM, and others.” Besides the oxymoronic aspect of “creating cultural heritage,” this phrase also reveals ideological operation of reshaping history and erasing all that does not fit within their worldview. And again, Čento, of course. His murder was not enough, now every opportunity is used for his symbolical killings. Furthermore, the ASNOM monument in the memorial park dedicated to the Women Fighters, a place massacred with new monuments, its original function devastated, was erected only as a counterweight for the monument of the historical VMRO, in order to arrogantly present the current political party with the same name as a continuity of the Macedonian struggle. If they could, they would have circumvented ASNOM too.

4. In the end – “The Government of the Republic of Macedonia,” underscored Gjorgjiev, “has no participation nor contact within the framework of the court case led by the Veterans’ Association with another veterans’ association.” One more frame – rule of law in the form of “I act dumb, and you act as if you believe me.”

According to the latest U.S. State Department report on Human Rights Practices, the most important human rights problem in Macedonia “was the government’s failure to fully respect the rule of law, which was reflected in its interference in the judiciary and the media, selective prosecution of political opponents of the country’s leaders, and significant levels of government corruption and police impunity.”

Anti-Fascist Protest in Skopje, Macedonia

A view of the protest from the stage, with aged veterans in the front row. Photo by V. Dzambaski (CC NC-SA)

Photo galleries of the February March 2013 were also published by Okno and A1on [mk].

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