Corner Press release

Hate speech at the protest in front of the State Election Commission and on the social networks 16 December 2016

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia harshly condemns the hate speech observed during the protest in front of the State Electoral Committee on 15.12.2016.

While the State Election Commission was reviewing and discussing the complaints submitted by the political parties regarding the early parliamentary elections, a protest rally was organized in front of the Commission which attracted the supporters, members and officials of VMRO-DPMNE and their coalition.

Those attending the protest could be heard chanting messages calling for hate, discord and intolerance, such as: "The Kyose  is alive!"* In addition, in some of the speeches during the rally we could trace elements of the crimes Inciting hatred, discord or intolerance on national, racial, religious or other discriminatory grounds and Endangering the security of more people, punishable under the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia.

The Head of the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities and Religious Groups, Valentina Bozhinovska, while addressing the protest rally, threatened the opposition and the SEC, telling them to be careful on how to decide on the complaints, and to not even consider discarding the people's will, because what would follow would be the "Night of the Long Knives", referring to the massacre of political opponents which occurred in Germany in 1934, when the Nazi regime executed at least 85 people for political reasons.

MP Amdi Bajram in his speech advised the leader of SDSM, Zoran Zaev, that "his funeral is about to happen", that "he will have a stroke in a few days", and that "we will be lighting candles for him at the cemetery". During the entire protest in front of the SEC the people were chanting "damned Shqiptar", while the Head of the State Archive used speech which contained threats to a certain ambassador in the country.

In accordance with Article 144, paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia anyone who threatens the security of several people with a serious threat to attack their bodies or lives or the lives or bodies of persons close to them, shall be punished by a sentence of imprisonment of up to six months.

At the same time, Article 319 from the Criminal Code stipulates imprisonment from 1 to 5 years for anyone who by force, mistreatment, endangering the security, ridicule of the national, ethnic or religious symbols or otherwise causes or incites hatred, discord or intolerance.

The list with the addresses of some of the MP candidates and activists from the Colorful Revolution circulating around the social media with a call to the supporters of VMRO-DPMNE and the coalition to "knock on the doors" of those people, is in the same vein. This call for lynching circulating through the social media constitutes a crime - Spreading racist and xenophobic material through computer systems stipulated in Art. 394-d from the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia. A crime which is punishable with a sentence of imprisonment from one to five years. Anyone who commits  the same act through the media will face the same sentences. If one commits this crime by misusing one's position or authority or if these crimes lead to riots and violence against people or property damage of a large scale, he/she shall be punished with imprisonment from one to ten years.

Therefore, the Helsinki Committee urges the competent state institutions, including the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecution, to take urgent measures and prosecute hate speech, because the impunity of the dissemination and promotion of hate speech in public spaces, only serves to condone and justify hate speech itself.

*Andon Lazov Janev, also known as Kyose, or "The Butcher" is a historic figure, famous for his killings
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