Ethnically Motivated Attacks in Macedonia

Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned over a series of ethnically motivated attacks in Macedonia and urges authorities to take immediate action for a prompt and proper investigation of the violent incidents.

On Wednesday, March 7th, a group of masked man attacked the bus in Skopje and injured several young ethnic Albanians. This incident incited a number of other violent incidents in the following days in several Macedonian cities, involving both ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, where a number of victims have been hospitalized.

On Thursday, March 8th police confirmed that a 17-year-old boy was beaten up in the western, mainly ethnic Albanian town of Tetovo. That same evening, two men sustained heavy injuries from a beating in the Skopje suburb of Gjorce Petrov and similar incident occurred on March 9th as well.

These and several other incidents come as a continuation of ethnic tensions in city of Gostivar. On February 28th, an off-duty Macedonian policeman Jakim Trifunovski shot dead two young ethnic Albanians Imran Mehmet and Besnik Shehapi in the western town of Gostivar. Police officer is arrested but eyewitnesses do not confirm the police version that a gang attacked him and opened fire in self-defense, while investigation is not completed yet.

Macedonian authorities should ensure that all attackers are brought to justice and must take all necessary steps to prevent any violation of right to life and physical integrity, especially the ones of interethnic nature. The fact that 38 persons were injured in 25 ethnic incidents since the beginning of 2012 is another evidence of worrying pattern that could escalate and authorities need to act in order to ensure basic human rights for all citizens.

These violent incidents could endanger the stability of the fragile inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia. The authorities and all relevant stakeholders from both ethnic communities should take necessary steps to ensure the on-going inter-ethic dialogue between the communities, based on full respect of human and minority rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.