Only one day ahead of the commencement of the high school students' protests in several cities throughout Macedonia, and one day ahead of the big protest scheduled on 19 March 2015, once again throughout the country are visible leaflets with content meant to discourage the young people from expressing their opinion.
It is obvious that these leaflets follow in the wake of the negative propaganda which has been launched in the public by the authorities, and which attacks the so-called “internal enemies” of the Republic of Macedonia, as are some international foundations, NGOs, and representatives of opposition parties. The distributed content bears signs of perfidious attempt to misuse the present political crises and defocus the high school students' dissatisfaction, by associating them with representatives of the opposition parties. Unlike the first wave of slander and attempts to obstruct the right to free association and expression, this second wave directly places the young people into partisan framework and thus again offends the dignity and reputation of anyone who dares to join the movement.
The Committee was also approached by high school students from Resen, who are targets of violence threats, attempts of bribery and pressure exerted through their parents. Specifically, the complaints are about allegations of bribes offered to the high school students and distribution of small amounts of money to those who promise not to join today's protest. The young people also claim that they were threatened that if they join the protest they would be facing major consequences, as expulsion from school, decreased deportment grades, ban on taking exit examination, exclusion from school field trips, shutting the school's gates and doors, and ignoring the potential need for assistance on passing the external examination. Especially worrisome are the allegations that some of the parents whose children are members of the Plenum were contacted by the authorities and confronted with indecent proposals, such as: dismissals, offers of restoration to the old working place, and exerting pressure on parents through relatives who are members of the ruling party.
The Committee holds that such acts represent fulfillment of the substance of the criminal offenses of endangerment of safety of multiple persons, prevention and obstruction of public assembly, and violence. On this account, the Committee invites the parents to file criminal charges against the school principal who abused his position in order to obstruct public assembly through threats and attempts to corrupt the youth, but also against all those who attempted to prevent the young people's gathering through similar means. The Committee remains at disposal to all those who need legal advice in the matter of undertaking such legal actions.
Due to the frequent threats against the high school students, the Committee announces that it will observe the high school students' protest scheduled on Thursday with great attention, and calls in advance upon the competent institutions to undertake measures which will ensure the young people's right to protest.