06 December 2006

Petitions To Sign to Call For The Release of Archbishop Jovan In Macedonia

KiM Info Newsletter 06-12-06
Primate of Orthodox Church in America calls for release of Imprisoned Archbishop Jovan
It has been 120 days since His Beatitude the Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje Jovan (John) has been imprisoned for second time in the state prison “Idrizovo” in Skopje, FYR Macedonia. The terror which the FYROM government, in interaction with the state-sponsored and self-proclaimed "Macedonian Orthodox Church", has been conducting over its own citizens, not only does it not cease, but it increases in force. Archbishop Jovan is the only Christian cleric in Europe who is imprisoned as a prisoner of consciousness under disguis of false accusations of money misappropriation. Blatant violation of basic religious rights in FYR Macedonia is a sad indication of absence of basic democratic standards in that country.
Metropolitan Herman calls for release of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid
SYOSSET, NY December 1, 2006Orthodox Church in America In a letter dated December 1, 2006 and addressed to Nikola Gruevsky, Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, expressed his deepest concern for His Eminence, Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, who recently was imprisoned for the second time.
In the 1960s, the Orthodox Church in the Macedonian Republic unilaterally declared itself autocephalous, thereby breaking communion with the Serbian Patriarchate and the world's Orthodox sister Churches. The schismatic Macedonian Church has maintained a bitter dispute with the Serbian Church over the patriarchate's presence in the republic.
The patriarchate's Archbishop Jovan, who broke ties with the schismatic Church in Macedonia and returned to the patriarchate a several years ago, has been the target of anti-patriarchate parties and civil authorities. He was first arrested in July 2005 and sentenced to 18 months in prison in Skopje for allegedly "inciting national, racial, and religious hatred, schism, and intolerance." He was subsequently released until his most recent imprisonment.
The text of Metropolitan Herman's letter, a copy of which was also sent to His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle of Servia, reads as follows.
"Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
"My letter to you is motivated by deep respect for you and your office as Prime Minister and by feelings of good will for your nation of Macedonia and its citizens.
"As the Primate of The Orthodox Church in America I write to you in order to intercede on behalf of Archbishop Jovan, who is imprisoned for the second time. I appeal to you to extend your good offices to secure the reconsideration of the sentence imposed on Archbishop Jovan.
"That a hierarch is judged and imprisoned for speaking and acting in accordance with his conscience is a serious violation of both the freedom of conscience and the freedom of religious faith and practice. These freedoms represent the ideals of human rights characterizing the values of all civilized peoples. I encourage you to lead your government and nation in pursuing ways of settling disputed issues that are more appropriate than the imprisonment of religious leaders.
"We are also well aware that the Archbishop's physical health is precarious, and we trust that he is receiving all the medical attention and care necessary for his condition.
"I urge you as the head of a government that has asserted its desire for all citizens of Macedonia to be free and equal citizens to adhere to the international standards of human rights and religious freedom. By doing what is honorable and just in the case of Archbishop Jovan you will reveal before the international community that you stand by these principles in practice.
"The prayers of the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and faithful of The Orthodox Church in America are offered to God for the health, well-being, and release of Archbishop Jovan. We hope that our prayers for you and your nation will guide your government to a just resolution of the most grievous situation of Archbishop Jovan – a situation which is grievous not only for him, but also for the Republic of Macedonia."
5000 signatures for liberation of Archbishop Jovan on the ongoing petition
At the beginning of November, in the United States of America, an Internet petition was started for liberation of His Beatitude, the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, kyr kyr Jovan from the prison in Idrizovo (http://www.petitiononline.com/3001sd/petition.html).
Republic of Macedonia is the only country in the civilized world which displays rigid violation of the religious freedoms of its own citizens. Archbishop Jovan is still in prison and the state refuses to register the existence of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric.
However, people from around the world, who care about the most basic principles of the free and democratic world, with the voice of reason, peace and good will, sign the Internet petition for liberation of Archbishop Jovan and reinstatement of the violated religious freedoms in the Republic of Macedonia.
So far the petition has been signed by nearly 5000 citizens (with different religious and national origins, among which there are Bishops, doctors, priests and eminent intellectuals), from different countries: the United States of America, Bulgaria, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Australia, China, Serbia, Great Britain, Greece, Russia, Macedonia, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia…
Links to the petition have been published on several web sites. After completion of the Petition signing, the Petition together with the request for the Republic of Macedonia to cease the persecution and imprisonment on religious basis of its own citizens and to register the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, will be sent to the American State Department, to the seat of the European Union in Brussels, to the Government of Germany as forthcoming President of the European Union, to the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and the other relevant international institutions.
The petition is ongoing.
Respecting the religious freedoms of all citizens – one of the conditions for the Republic of Macedonia to integrate in the Euro-Atlantic institutions
Recently, the deputy of the assistant secretary in the American Bureau for European and Euro-Asian questions, Rosemary di Carlo, was staying in a working visit in Republic of Macedonia.
She pointed out unambiguously that the obligations which Republic of Macedonia should fulfill so as to become a candidate for membership in NATO are the following: judicial reforms, fight against corruption, fight against human trafficking, and respecting the religious freedoms and rights of all citizens.
This information has been broadcast by all Macedonian media (for example, A1 TV, News, 25. 10. 2006; Dnevnik, 27. 10. 2006…).
The weekly Macedonian magazine with the biggest circulation”Fokus”, in its newest issue (number 591), has published its attitude about the incoming obligation of Republic of Macedonia:
“One of the conditions for entering NATO, was the guarantee for religious freedoms. The whole farce in the organization of MOC and Macedonian politics connected with the image and work of bishop Jovan is contained in this poor information…

Macedonian judiciary gave him a prison sentence on the base of his neighbors’ conviction that the building’s entrance smelled like incense instead of sauerkraut, which is interpreted as sowing religious and racial hatred. Meanwhile MOC was “enlightened” and announced defrosting of the dialogue with SOC since the way to autocephaly lead through Belgrade, and which is identical to what Jovan had claimed, for which in the public harangue he has been proclaimed a traitor.
As it comes to the state, it still refuses to register his religious organization, despite the pressure made by the deadlines. Thus the state has been caught in its trap and built the newest case against Macedonia. Now, if we want in NATO, we have to recognize Jovan. And, normally, we are all playing fools. We do not comment on the “condition” that Rosemary di Carlo has announced again. We do not comment on the decision made by MOC, neither. We hope that this shame will be forgotten…”
Problems cannot be solved by postponing them endlessly. On the contrary, they multiply.
It is a fact that in the Republic of Macedonia there are citizens, who belong to Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, and whose religious freedoms are fully taken away. Is it possible that the state forces those citizens to belong to the favourized religious community - MOC, to which they do not wish to belong!
Due to the insistence by the bishops of MOC, after many releases by the Principal Court Veles, Archbishop kyr kyr Jovan is in the prison “Idrizovo”. The reforms in the judiciary, the interruption of the political trials and imprisonments of Archbishop kyr kyr Jovan, and the registering of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, are in fact acts compatible with the European Convention for respecting human rights and freedoms, whose signer is Republic of Macedonia. Such efforts effectively, not only declaratively, will accelerate the integration of our country in the desired Euro-Atlantic institutions, thus putting it in the line of countries which cherishes the values of a civilization.