Tuesday, December 04, 2012

No Memorial Service for the Victims of "Donkey Assasinations," Again

Once again, Macedonia has failed to commemorate one of the darkest days in the history of Štip: On December 4, 1911, as a consequence of the so-called "Donkey Assassinations," dozens of citizens lost their lives, and hundreds were wounded.

The goal of this terror campaign (which also included Kichevo and Dojran) was to incite inter-ethnic and inter-religious hatred resulting in physical violence - mutual slaughter of the population of Macedonia. The primary targets were Muslims, who would took revenge on the Christians, which supposed to create chaos that would invite intervention by the neighboring states, with an end result of complete division of Macedonia. Along the way, those who incited the strife would end up as feudal owners who would privatize and "independently" rule whatever piece of territory they can scoop up from Macedonia.

Štip by the end of XIX century. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia in Macedonian article on the "Donkey Assassinations" („Магарешки атентати“) references the book "Treason and Assassinations in the Macedonian History" („Предавствата и атентатите во македонската историја“, 2004) by the state historians Violeta Achkovska and Nikola Zhezhov. They point out that the primary motive for the assassinations involved racketeering. The operations involved members of the pro-Bulgarian, "Autonomist" IMRO disguised as peasants bringing time bombs on donkeys, and leaving them in markets or near religious objects. An excerpt from the article follows, while the quotes in brackets are from the book, which covers this topic from around page 143:
As a result of such terrorist activity on December 4, 1911 in Štip in less than an hour, 20 Christians were killed by angry Muslim mobs, and hundreds were wounded. Initial reports by the Kaymakam of Štip to the Wali [Ottoman governor] of Kosovo Villayet  justified this act of violence with an alleged bomb planted near the mosque wall, which injured three Muslims, with one of them dying from the wounds.
Citizens of Štip suffered the most due to this event, regardless of their complete innocence regarding any participation or approval of the initial crime. In fact the assassination "was inspired by the desire to punish them, and to provoke an incident." British Consul noted that after the shocking "murder of six Muslims near Kiliseli, and the legal consequences and other processes in Štip, ...last year, the local elders decided to terminate any relations with the organization lead by Todor Aleksandrov, refusing to pay contributions to his funds--which they did until then--and to receive and smuggle his emissaries upon their visits to the city." After that, Aleksandrov announced his intention "to bring them to their senses."

Several months ago, several right-wing political parties including the ruling party running the Government of RM paid respects to the organizer of these assassinations, Todor Aleksandrov.  They organized several Orthodox Christian memorial services in his honor, attended by at least one governmental minister. They even built an EUR 73.000 equestrian monument dedicated to him in Skopje (unnamed at the time of erection, then amended with an inscription of the name), and sang а song about him during party celebration. However, not a word about the victims. So when authorities in Macedonia talk about honoring tradition, remembrance of the hardships of the common people does not come into play. Citizens of Štip did not make a peep.

Several years ago, Zarko Trajanoski asked the same question. Sadly, in recent times, 101 years after those loathsome events, similar modus operandi was used for several incidents to incite inter-ethnic and inter-religious hatred. History should be thought as a way to avoid repeating past disasters, not as a list of models to imitate...

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