The EU Ambassador in North Macedonia, David Geer, on his Twitter profile requested that the hate speech and the smear campaign against the Metamorphosis Foundation’s staff be promptly investigated and expressed his support to the staff.
Just spoke to Metamorphosis following smear campaign against them. There should be no place for incitement of hatred or spreading false accusations in the media. Threats against @fmeta staff should be promptly investigated.
— EU Ambassador David Geer (@AmbassadorEU) November 16, 2020
Four days ago, during the night when most of the citizens in Macedonia were celebrating the victory of Macedonian’s national football team and its entry in the European Football Championship, around midnight, on Lider news site www.lider.com.mk an article with the following title was published: “These are the people who delete content from Facebook in Macedonia!” where more lies and false claims were stated. Among other issues, the article featured a collage of photographs of some of the employees of the Metamorphosis Foundation and the title stated that these are the people that have been erasing content from Facebook. The article also had the names of almost all of Metamorphosis’ staff.
During the night between the 12th and the 13th of November, but also in the following days, this article was republished or was linked on other websites such as: kurir.mk, netpress.com.mk, bregalnicki.mk, times.com.mk и dokazm.mk. The article, the photographs of the staff and their names, were directly shared in the social networks more than 40 times. The article was shared by official pages of two political parties. The comments following these posts are overflowing with hate speech and calls for public lynching of the staff of Metamorphosis Foundation.
Apart from the hundreds of comments with hate speech, some social networks’ users called for hanging the staff on electricity poles, to be sent funeral wreaths, to be publicly spat at, to get infected with COVID-19,” etc.
Even though Metamorphosis issued an official denial of the mailiciuos and smearing insinuations, that represent repression of freedom of speech, it wasn’t published neither by the medium that instigated the smear campaign nor was it published by the remaining media that published the same content. The denial was published only by the portal bregalnicki.mk.
Last week, journalist associations such as AJM, MIM, CMEM, and ISJMW, condemned the hate speech towards civil society organization Metamorphosis’ staff and have called upon the Ministry of Interior (MOI) to start an investigation which would help to determine the identity of the persons that instigated the hate speech through comments on social networks. They also called upon the Basic Public Prosecution to start a case where those people would be sanctioned in accordance with the Criminal Code.
During the weekend, AJM, CMEM, and ISJMW have once again repeated their call to MOI and BPP to react against hate speech, which lately is on the rise not just against the Metamorphosis Foundation but also against other renowned journalists in the country.