The Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights today filed a denunciation against academic Katica Kulavkova for her statement on social networks, which incites intolerance among ethnic communities, as previously reported by Meta.mk.

According to this leading human rights protection organization in the Republic of North Macedonia, Kulafkova’s tweet ‘We are paying the price of coexistence with our lives’ implies that the reason for the spread of the virus is inter-ethnic relations, and not the largely disregard of the public health measures.

“Given the fact that in our country hate speech is dominantly on ethnic grounds, the spread and incitement of such language has a special weight because it leads to hate crimes. It is especially dangerous when such language is used by intellectuals, politicians, journalists and other people with great social influence,” Helsinki Committee noted in their official announcement.

These forms of hate speech simultaneously act as disinformation, as they are based on selective interpretation of individual events and spin, instead of comprehensive objective analyses of the statistical data.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights noted with great concern that the crisis caused by the emergence of the corona-virus, these days is intensively passing into the sphere of inter-ethnic relations.

“In the first weeks of the state of emergency, discriminatory statements were made against those infected with COVID-19, through requests to publish personal data, violations of patients’ rights and similar forms of stigmatization. Tensions caused by restrictive measures gradually shifted to the realm of nationalism largely due to the fact that we are in a pre-election period. Unfortunately, all calls for solidarity and understanding in the face of the disaster that is affecting all citizens, become meaningless when the health crisis and the economic crisis are joined by the crisis in inter-ethnic relations,” stressed the Helsinki Committee.

They listed the following that have contributed to this situation: the silence of institutions before the arbitrariness of religious authorities who acted contrary to all recommendations for the protection of public health, the functioning of the state with a technical government, selective media information and massive presence of misinformation, but also incitement of hate speech on ethnic grounds by public figures.

Meanwhile, academician Katica  Kulavkova closed her profiles on the social networks Facebook and Twitter on June 7, which contained other  contents which previously incited praise from extreme right wing circles and associated media.

When asked why by media outlet 360 Degrees, she failed to answer. She promised them to send an explanation by e-mail, but by the time of closing of this news item, these journalists have not reported receiving such a message.

Besides the high function as member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU), Katica Kulavkova (sometimes also written as Kjulavkova) occupied or occupies a number of other high posts within the hierarchy of Macedonian society. According to her official biography, she had been professor at the University of Sts Cyril and Methodius, and honorary president of the Macedonian PEN center.

As a representative of the Macedonian PEN, she has become a member of the management structure of PEN International, as one of the 25 vice-presidents from various regions in the world, including Nobel Prize laureates Svetlana Alexievich, J. M. Coetzee, and Orhan Pamuk. Among these 25 vice-presidents is also Margaret Atwood. PEN International’s mission includes defending free expression and promoting linguistic rights.

Helsinki Committee also noted that “Although practice shows that the prosecution and the court almost never process cases of hate speech, we consider it necessary to condemn the actions of all public figures who influence the deepening of divisions and incitement to hatred. At the same time, we call on all citizens and other actors in society to show higher awareness and responsibility and not allow the escalation of these extremely negative phenomena.”