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2-6 Human Rights: Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association




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This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

2-6 Human Rights: Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The right to peaceful and unarmed assembly is provided for by the
Constitution, and the Government generally respected this right in
practice. The authorities require permits for rallies and assemblies
held outdoors, but most legally registered organizations were routinely
granted permission to assemble. However, one non-Orthodox religious
group reported difficulties obtaining a permit for an outdoor assembly,
and several other religious groups also had difficulty renting assembly
halls. In most cases, these religious groups had been denied
registration by the Council of Ministers (see Section 2.c.).

Vigorous political rallies and demonstrations were a common occurrence
and took place without government interference.

The Government has undertaken to respect the rights of individuals and
groups freely to establish their own political parties or other
political organizations. However, there are constitutional and
statutory restrictions that limit the right of association and
meaningful participation in the political process. For example, the
Constitution prohibits organizations that threaten the country's
territorial integrity or unity, or that incite racial, ethnic, or
religious hatred. Some observers considered the Government's refusal
since 1990 to register a Macedonian rights group, Umo-Ilinden, on the
grounds that it is separatist, to be a restriction of the constitutional
rights to express opinions and to associate. The group, which is
seeking registration as a Bulgarian-Macedonian friendship society, was
allowed to hold an outdoor public meeting in April, but police broke up
attempts to hold a second public meeting in July.

The Constitution forbids the formation of political parties along
religious, ethnic, or racial lines, and prohibits "citizens'
associations" from engaging in political activity. Although these
restrictions were used in 1991 to challenge the legitimacy of the mainly
ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), that party is
currently represented in Parliament, and its right to compete in the
October 29 local elections was not questioned.

 

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