By Petar Delyan
More than 10,000 people of Macedonian descent rallied in Melbourne on February 1, calling on the federal government to recognise Macedonia's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia. On February 2, up to 8000 attended a gathering of NSW-based Macedonians in Canberra. Protesters travelled from Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the ACT, with a small contingent from Melbourne.
The Canberra rally took place outside Old Parliament House, near the recently re-established Aboriginal tent embassy. Both groups recognised the similarities of their causes as ancient peoples denied justice and threatened with genocide. The Macedonian flag was raised on the flagpole of the Aboriginal embassy, and a contingent of Aboriginal people joined the rally with their banner "Sovereignty Never Ceded".
The rally was addressed by Verka Paunovska, a young, internationally acclaimed Australian-Macedonian poet. She was followed by federal Labor MP Collin Hollis, who said: "I have long admired the history and people of Macedonia. I have been made aware by Macedonians of the South Coast of the current problem of getting medical supplies into Macedonia. I have taken the matter up with Senator Gareth Evans to see what assistance Australia can give."
Hollis said he was bitterly disappointed that the Australian government had not recognised Macedonia at the same time it recognised Croatia and Slovenia on January 16. "Many of you know that a bipartisan group was set up within the parliament to push for the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. I am prepared to reconvene such a group, representing all the political parties in this parliament, to bring pressure for Australia to recognise Macedonia."
NSW South Coast Labor Council secretary Paul Matters said the SCLC would press for an end to the present blockade on Macedonia and for humanitarian aid and recognition of the newly independent republic.
"To Paul Keating, the Australian government and the Australian people: we are here because we want independence and sovereignty for Macedonia and we want it now. We want no more and no less. Please recognise Macedonia as you recognised Croatia and Slovenia", said Peter Talevsk, of the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee.
He read a letter from federal Labor MP Steve Dubois: "I am sorry I cannot join you personally but I do share your aspirations for self-determination and I sincerely hope that Macedonia's transition to independence will be both swift and without bloodshed".
Kosta Nikolovsk from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation/Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (UMRO-DPME) (Sydney) read a message from the UMRO president in Macedonia, Lupoho Georgievski.
Tax-deductible donations (cheques or money orders) may be sent to the l Relief Fund, PO Box 18 Rockdale NSW 2216 if a receipt is required for taxation purposes. Donations not requiring a receipt may be deposited directly into National Australia Bank account 51-697-6899, branch 082-342 (Rockdale).
In the article in last week's Green Left on Macedonia the date in the opening paragraph should be 1992, not 1922.