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Bulgaria: Information on Black communists and the treatment of Blacks, visible minorities and persons of mixed race (Black and White)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 December 1993
Citation / Document Symbol BGR15982.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bulgaria: Information on Black communists and the treatment of Blacks, visible minorities and persons of mixed race (Black and White), 1 December 1993, BGR15982.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad0324.html [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis 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.

 

Information on this specific subject is currently unavailable to the DIRB in Ottawa. However, a source at Helsinki Watch in New York notes that although they do not have any information directly related to the treatment of Blacks, visible minorities or persons of mixed race (black and white) in Bulgaria, the closest analogue would be Gypsies, as they have historically been considered Bulgaria's "dark-skinned people" (6 Dec. 1993).

For general information on ethnic/racial discrimination in Bulgaria, please refer to Responses to Information Requests BGR8167 and BGR8157. These documents are available at your Regional Documentation Centre. These documents should give an insight into official Bulgaria's current position on ethnic/racial discrimination. For basic information on the treatment of Gypsies and other minorities in Bulgaria, please refer to the following issues of News from Helsinki Watch: "Bulgaria: Police Violence Against Gypsies (2 Apr. 1993), "Destroying Ethnic Identity: Selective Persecution of Macedonians in Bulgaria" (12 Feb. 1991); and "Deep Tensions Continue in Turkish Provinces, Despite Some Human Rights Improvements" (Aug. 1990). These documents are available at your Regional Documentation Centre.

Country Reports 1992 notes that the fundamental freedoms were generally respected officially in 1992, but that the legislation to strengthen these constitutional rights is still weak (1993, 730). For instance, little progress has been made in creating institutions for settling human rights complaints (ibid.). Despite all of the constitutional guarantees, discrimination against ethnic minorities persists in practice (ibid., 734). For example, it is officially recognized that in hard economic times, Gypsies will suffer more from the economic dislocations due to ethnic prejudice (News from Helsinki Watch 2 Apr. 1993, 2). Before the coming into power of the UDF government in October 1991, communist governments for decades denied ethnic minorities their fundamental human rights (ibid. Aug. 1993, 1-4). Today the problem lies in how to achieve these guaranteed constitutional rights in practice (Country Reports 1992 1993, 734).

The following information should give an indication of the public's perception of communism and communists in Bulgaria today. The Bulgarian constitution states that all persons are equal before the law and that no one shall suffer because of their opinion or political affiliation (News from Helsinki Watch Aug. 1993, 6). The source notes that with the introduction of democracy in 1989, former communists have been held accountable for their past actions, but does not indicate that this applies to all communists (ibid., 15-20). RFE/RL Research Report also notes that in 1990 Bulgaria became the first country in history to elect a communist government through free and fair elections (10 Jan. 1992, 12). However, the communists, through the new Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), were defeated by the UDF in the October 1991 elections (ibid.).

The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) government has made several attempts to "decommunize" Bulgaria through prosecutions, and purging from public life of former communist party officials, and reforms have been introduced to reinforce democracy (ibid.; ibid. 10 July 1992, 6-10; News from Helsinki Watch Aug. 1993, 2-5, 21-29). In a 16 March 1992 report, the BBC noted an incident of resentment against former communists. According to the report, the BSP headquarters in Sofia was attacked on 15 March 1993; the BSP attributed the attack to a "group of tough youngsters" (ibid.). In another report the BBC stated that some individuals have used graffiti to express their dislike for the communist era in Bulgaria (13 May 1993).

According to the sources consulted, Bulgarian Gypsies have suffered a long history of discrimination and mistreatment. In spite of the political changes since 1989, this discrimination and mistreatment has continued. Although none of these sources specifically mentions Blacks, one source notes that Bulgarians have historically considered Gypsies to be a visible minority. Some of the sources have also noted the UDF authorities' attempts to bury the country's communist past, but the communists (through the BSP, which holds the parliamentary majority) are still a political force in Bulgaria.

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.

References

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 13 May 1993. Criselda Yabes. "Bulgaria: The Road to Democracy Has so Far Been Rough and Rocky." (NEXIS)

. 16 March 1993. "`Hooligans' Attack BSP Headquarters in Sofia." (NEXIS)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1992. 1993. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Helsinki Watch, New York. 6 December 1993. Telephone interview with specialist on Bulgaria.

News from Helsinki Watch [New York]. August 1993. Vol. 5, No. 14. "Decommunization in Bulgaria."

. 2 April 1993. Vol. 5, No. 5. "Bulgaria: Police Violence Against Gypsies."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Research Institute. 10 July 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 28. Kjell Engelbrekt. "Bulgaria's Communist Legacy: Settling Old Scores."

. 10 January 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 2. Evgenii Dainov. "Bulgaria: Politics After the October 1991 Elections."

Attachments

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 13 May 1993. Criselda Yates. "Bulgaria: The Road to Democracy Has so Far Been Rough and Rocky." (NEXIS)

. 16 March 1993. "`Hooligans' Attack BSP Headquarters in Sofia." (NEXIS)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Research Institute. 10 July 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 28. Kjell Engelbrekt. "Bulgaria's Communist Legacy: Settling Old Scores."

. 10 January 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 2. Evgenii Dainov. "Bulgaria: Politics After the October 1991 Elections."

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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