Macedonia has more political prisoners now than it did under occupation on October 11 1941, observed former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in his statement on the occasion of the day celebrating the beginning of the World War Two uprising. Gruevski, who is himself a political emigre in Hungary and who had dozens of associates persecuted in an attempt to topple his VMRO-DPMNE party from power, offered a grim reading of modern Macedonian history and where the country finds itself now.

We have more political prisoners and politically persecuted people in Macedonia now, by this “Macedonian” Government, than we had under occupation in 1941. The victims are those who did not agree to have our Constitution and laws violated in order to change the name of the Republic of Macedonia, to have our identity and the Macedonian history altered in accordance to someone else’s wishes. Most of those who are persecuted belong to a political option through which, for over a decade, they offered a well argumented and just resistance to the pressures, a resistance that was supported by the majority of Macedonians. The victims are now handpicked and persecuted in order to allow the Government to stage a display of force, to intimidate all others, to punish one group as an example for all who might also want to resist and prevent the further horse-trading of our fundamental national interests. This trade is meant to allow some parties to accomplish the goals they once failed to reach with force and with a gun, Gruevski said.

The persecution of former VMRO officials has been ramped up again after Zoran Zaev managed to secure a new mandate as Prime Minister, with the imprisonment of former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and continued judicial assaults on former Transportation Minister Mile Janakieski, among others. In his message Gruevski expressed his admiration for the partisan fighters during World War Two, and siad that their struggle should not be overshadowed by the subsequent “undemocratic and crual Communist regime which ruthlessly attacked all opponents and patriots”.

That generation, and the generation of the Ilinden Uprising, fought and sacrificed a lot, and deserved to have a state. They made history, strengthened our identity and elevated our name to the point that all could proudly say we are Macedonia and we are Macedonians. Let’s fight to celebrate the holiday as it was, and not as others want it to be, portraying it as some kind of a civil war, and not as the uprising of the Macedonian people against the fascist occupiers, Gruevski said in his message.