PANEPIROTIC FEDERATION OF AMERICA
P.O BOX 20314, WORCESTER, MA 01602
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Panepirotic Federation of America is urging the United States to take measures to ensure that next month’s census in Albania, which will count ethnic and religious minorities for the first time in decades, is conducted without manipulation, harassment or intimidation.
Earlier this year, the Albanian parliament passed a law stating that a fine of $1,000 will be levied on those who declare an ethnicity in the census that was not previously registered on their family records. This law violates the human rights of Albanian citizens, and the Albanian Constitution and international law, which state that individuals have the right to declare any ethnic identity to which they feel they belong.
This law is a direct attack on the ethnic Greek minority and their basic human rights. During communist rule, members of minority groups in Albania often abstained from officially declaring an ethnic or religious identity out of fear of government reprisal. Now that the opportunity has arrived for the citizens of Albania to freely state their identity, the Albanian government is reverting to its old ways. Ethnic Greeks again have reason to fear openly and officially stating their identity.
As proud Greek-Americans, the Panepirotic Federation of America condemns these actions. The ethnic Greek minority in Albania has faced prejudice for many years. The Albanian government has closed Greek schools, prohibited the teaching of the Greek language, confiscated private land and homes of Greeks, and stolen property of the Orthodox Church. Now the Albanian government seeks to extinguish the Greek identity.
The Panepirotic Federation of America implores Washington to have its representatives in Albania issue statements assuring the country’s citizens that they may declare their ethnic and religious affiliations without fear of reprisals, including the payment of fines.
Demetrios Koutoulas, President of Panepirotic Federation
Father Kosmas Karavellas, Head chairman Northern Epirus Issues
Theodore Retzios, Co- Chair Northern Epirus Issues