Bulgaria: Information on UMO-Ilinden (Ilinden United Macedonian Organization); on its location, organization, activities, and mode of operation
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 January 1996|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BGR22462.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bulgaria: Information on UMO-Ilinden (Ilinden United Macedonian Organization); on its location, organization, activities, and mode of operation, 1 January 1996, BGR22462.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ab412c.html [accessed 22 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
In a telephone interview on 4 January 1995, the Chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) in Sofia provided the following information. The UMO-Ilinden organization, whose leader is Yordan Kostadinov, was not permitted to register as a political body in 1991 and continues to be regarded by the authorities as an illegal organization. For a reference to an attempt in 1995 to legalize the organization, please consult the Chasa attachment of 9 July 1995.
The Chair of the BHC also provided the following information. The organization convened a general assembly in 1990 when an executive committee was elected that included a general secretary and president. There has not been a subsequent general assembly, and a portion of the original executive committee remains. The source has met several members of the committee, and estimates the committee to be comprised of roughly ten members. The executive committee meets irregularly and publishes sporadically a newspaper called Awakening (Skornuvane). This newspaper is published by a private firm composed of several members of the executive committee.
As a result of the organization's illegal status, executive committee meetings are privately held. The authorities do not intervene in the private meetings, although participants suspect that the meetings are electronically monitored. The president periodically issues declarations and sends them to various media in Bulgaria and in the Republic of Macedonia. The outdoor activities of the group are annual public gatherings in August and in April to celebrate historical events. The authorities normally do not permit the organization to publicly gather during these commemorations, and UMO-Ilinden members that do so are susceptible to harassment and violence. However, the authorities permitted the gathering in April 1995 to commemorate the anniversary of the death of a Macedonian hero, Yane Sandanski. For further information on activities of UMO-Ilinden and the police treatment of its members, please consult pages 20 to 23 of the DIRB's Question and Answer Series Paper Bulgaria: Ethnic Minorities, which is available at regional documentation centres.
The source estimated that there are approximately 200 to 300 UMO-Ilinden members. According to page 771 of Country Reports 1995:
Thousands of Bulgarians, mainly in the southwest, identify themselves as Macedonians, most for historical and geographic reasons. Active members of the two organizations which purport to defend the interests of ethnic Macedonians, UMO-Ilinden and TMO-Ilinden, are believed to number in the hundreds (see Section 2.b).
For the response of Yordan Kostadinov to questions pertaining to the size of UMO-Ilinden's membership, please consult the fourth to ninth paragraphs of the first column of page five of the Kontinent attachment of 25 April 1995.
The source added that the majority of UMO-Ilinden members reside in Pirin Macedonia; few reside in Sofia. Pirin Macedonia is the southern half of the Sofiya district, and most of the UMO-Ilinden members there are congregated in or near the towns of Sandanski and Petrich. There is a very small number of members in other districts in Bulgaria, but these members were probably originally from Pirin Macedonia.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently
available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Sofia. 4 January 1995. Telephone interview with Chair.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1994. 1995. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, p. 771.
Chasa [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 9 July 1995. "Ilinden OMO Attempting to Be Legalized." (FBIS-EEU-95-134 13 Jul. 1995, pp. 4-5)
Kontinent [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 25 April 1995. "Ilinden Leader Urges Europe to Unite Macedonia." (FBIS-EEU-95-086 4 May 1995, pp. 4-6)