112 votes in favor, three abstained
The memorandum that condemns the assimilation campaign applied to Turks and Muslims during the communist regime, which came to an end in 1989, was prepared by Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB) leader Ivan Kostov. Out of 115 parliamentarians that participated in the vote, 112 voted in support, while three abstained. The memorandum calls for a case, which has been on hold for 20 years, in which those responsible for the assimilation campaign are defendants, to be reopened and for those responsible to face punishment.
İvan Kostov stated that the memorandum, entitled "Memorandum Condemning the Forced Assimilation of Bulgarian Muslims" which deals with the "Revival Process" assimilation campaign which led to the deaths of hundreds of Bulgarian Turks and Muslims, is a document that should be supported by all political powers in parliament.
Kostov stated the following: "During this campaign, staged by the communists, over 360,000 citizens of Turkish heritage were forced to emigrate. We strongly condemn this incident which we perceive to be an attempt at ethnic cleansing. We are calling on Chief Public Prosecutor Boris Velchev to readdress the case. We perceive efforts to have the case reach a 'limitations period' as equivalent to an attempt to portray the entire Bulgarian public as guilty of assimilation attempts. We need to open this very significant page in our recent history and read it, and then we must close it."
Kostov referred to Prime Minister's Boyko Borisov's comment in the past on the assimilation campaign, that 'It is good in terms of an idea, however the method is incorrect', and went on to state, "We do not want to play a double game. There is no such thing as, 'It is good in terms of an idea, however the method is incorrect', for this to be true is impossible. There is also no longer any meaning behind stating, 'Communist dictator Zhivkov was good, but those working underneath him were bad.' The sole living suspect in the case, Georgi Atanasov, the last Prime Minister during the Zhivkov era cannot be the sole party responsible."
'We also need to condemn their intentions…'
The majority of members who supported the memorandum were from the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms Party (DPS -HÖH). Party Deputy Chairman Lütfi Mestan referred to the memorandum as being "legal, political and moral."
Mestan stated, "If we are saying that there shouldn't be a limitations period on certain criminal activities, then the legal procedures from here on out should be conducted accordingly. We must inform that we not only condemn the methods of this ugly act from our past, but we also condemn the intentions."
DSB Parliamentarian Lichezar Toshev stated that at least 517 people were killed in the assimilation campaign and that hundreds of Bulgarian Turks were sent to the Belene prison. Tochev went on to say that Belene had been transformed into a detention camp. It was also of note that parliamentarians from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which had opposed views shared by the human rights commission as well as members from the extreme nationalist and racist ATAKA party did not participate in the vote.
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