Rainbow Party Erects New Macedonian Language Sign
Source: Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
25 July 2002
Sign below the damaged window of Rainbow's
office in Florina announces
"Rainbow - European Movement" in Greek, Macedonian and
Lerin / Florina -- On the afternoon of Thursday, July 25, 2002,
the Rainbow Party erected a sign outside their office in Florina. The
sign contained the text Rainbow European Movement in Greek, Macedonian and English.
That morning, Pavle Voskopoulos, a member of the Political Secretariat
of Rainbow, visited the public prosecutor with a written statement informing
him of Rainbow's intention to hang the sign. Rainbow also informed the
local police as well as the Ministry of Public Order. There was good reason
for all this caution.
The Rainbow Party first erected a bilingual sign (in Macedonian and Greek)
on September 6, 1995. At that time the public prosecutor immediately announced
the indictment of the Rainbow leaders for having incited discord
among citizens (Article 192 of the Greek Penal Code) through the
use of the Macedonian language. The police were also ordered to remove
On the night of September 13, 1995, a mob, led by the mayor of Florina,
attacked the Rainbow office and destroyed it. No member of the mob was
ever charged while four members of Rainbow were forced to stand trial.
Their crime, according to Greek authorities, was that the public use of
their mother tongue (Macedonian on their signage) had provoked the local
citizenry to use violence.
Greek authorities often intimidate minorities to prevent them from speaking
publicly about the discrimination they endure. Official Greek policy denies
the existence of any minorities and promotes Greece as an "ethnically
pure" state. Rainbow's use of Macedonian on their sign contradicted
that policy -- "that in Greece there are only Greeks."
After three years of legal limbo the "Rainbow Four" were acquitted
of the crime of writing their organization's name in Macedonian -- their
mother tongue. This positive outcome was due in part to the huge publicity
the case had attracted outside Greece and the negative effect it was having
on Greece's reputation.
Now, seven years after authorities incited a mob to destroy the office
of the Rainbow Party we shall see whether using one's mother tongue is
still a prosecutable offence in Greece.
here for background on Greece's reaction to
Rainbow's inclusion of Macedonian in their first sign