BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Macedonia Referendum: Block the Vote
HITS: 3240 | 7-01-2005, 03:14 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Macedonia , Politics

Referendum on the proposed re-districting of local government units 7th November 2004

Macedonia, the missing jigsaw piece of the European superstate. A poster on display in the weeks leading up to the referendum

On 7th November 2004, fewer than 30% of eligible voters turned out in Macedonia’s referendum on local government re-organisation which required a minimum 50% participation. Hardly a subject to disturb the headline-writers, one might have thought. Yet Washington and Brussels worked overtime to achieve that level of apathy. The low turnout was hailed as a triumph for Euro-Atlantic values. Perhaps an invalid Balkan referendum on an obscure local issue tells us more about the New World Order than anyone might have expected.

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Events in Kosovo: Prizren
HITS: 2802 | 18-08-2004, 22:34 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Serbia , Analyzing, War and peace

Prizren is about as far from Kosovska Mitrovica as it is possible to get in Kosovo. This south-western city of medieval Orthodox churches and Ottoman mosques was one of the worst affected parts of the province by the anti-Serb pogrom. Although Western media reports routinely attributed the March 2004 Albanian on Serb violence to a reawakening of the desire for revenge as a result of Albanian sufferings at the hands of Serb forces in 1999, the mass attack on Serbs in Prizren casts doubt on the idea of revenge as the psychological root of the violence.
Contrary to common assumptions, Prizren did not suffer from brutal ethnic cleansing in the spring of 1999. Local Albanians there could not have harboured barely repressed anger against any erstwhile Serb persecutors in 1999 because the city was not the victim of ethnic cleansing. As television footage of the arrival of German troops on 12th June, 1999 revealed, large numbers of Albanians of all age groups and both sexes were in the city to welcome their liberators.
Prizren survived the 78-day NATO war against Yugoslavia almost undamaged. At the outbreak of the NATO bombing campaign radical Serb nationalists blew up the League of Prizren monument in the city.

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Vandalism not religiously motivated
HITS: 2068 | 18-08-2004, 00:10 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Serbia , PR and human rights

J.A. Cuddon’s classic Companion Guide to Jugoslavia mentions the churches and monasteries of Prizren but insists, “The [sic]church to see in Prizren is Sv. Bogorodica Ljeviška (the Virgin of the Falling Asleep). It is an interesting mixture of Serbian, Greek and Romanesque styles built with five cupolas, an ex-narthex and a belfry” Begun in 1307, it had been converted into a mosque under the Turks who whitewashed over its medieval frescoes. After 1950 restoration began after the church had been returned to Orthodox control in 1913 after the Serbian army expelled the Turkish rulers. Turkish iconoclasm damaged the frescoes but the intention was only to cover them over. Cuddon noted, “Every few inches there is a white scar on the paintings giving the effect of a heavy snow storm. This was done to make it easier for the walls to take plaster. However, between and behind the flakes of this ‘blizzard’ one can still see the frescoes which are among the finest in the fourteenth century.” Whatever Cuddon saw is now locked away behind barbed wire. Fire damage is visible on the window frames and because KFOR prevents access to the interior the exact state of the wall paintings so admired by visitors before 1999 can only be guessed at.

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