Hundreds of prisoners in Skopje start hunger strike demanding general amnesty

By bne IntelliNews December 11, 2018

Hundreds of Macedonian prisoners started a hunger strike on December 10, calling for the planned amnesty law for some people who participated in the parliament violence on April 27, 2017 to be extended to other offences.

The Macedonian government is preparing a draft law in cooperation with the opposition to pardon some of those who participated in the parliament protests, when around 100 people were injured, including Macedonia’s now Prime Minister Zorna Zaev.

However, Zaev said that there would be no amnesty for all, but just for those who did not organise the protests and were not involved directly in the violence in the parliament.

Striking prisoners said the hunger strike is a warning sign after the government ignored their demands.

"We are starting with a two-day warning hunger strike as the authorities did not respond to our demands,” broadcaster 24vesti reported on December 10, citing the letter sent by prisoners to the management of Skopje's main prison Idrizovo.

“We demand a general amnesty for all offences allowed by the Constitution, and also for life sentences to be lowered in line with European laws,” they said further in the letter.

About 600 prisoners, or 60% of convicted people who are serving their sentences in Idrizovo, refused to eat on December 10.

Idrizovo’s director Bobi Mojsoski was cited as saying that he will forward prisoners’ requests to the government.

The amnesty law is a condition of the opposition MPs to vote for the constitutional changes related to the name deal with Greece that will change the country's name to North Macedonia, and will unblock EU and Nato integration processes.

The final vote on the amendments should take place by January 15, 2019, for which a two-third majority is needed, which can be achieved only with some opposition lawmakers.

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