SCOBA Condemns Imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan By FYROM and Asks For His Release

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New York — The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) have declared unanimously their outrage concerning the imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

"With this imprisonment," they declared, "the right of freedom of thought and belief has been denied and trampled upon by the state authorities of FYROM."

"That a recognized, canonical Orthodox Christian hierarch can be sentenced to a year and a half prison term for fulfilling his religious responsibilities is simply beyond our comprehension," the hierarchs stated. "To seek to impose upon all the people of FYROM one religious organization, abrogates the universal values of civilized nations and denies respect for the right of free choice of belief and opinion."

"We are saddened by this denial of what all civilized nations have declared is one of the basic human rights. Reports concerning treatment by the police during the arrest of the Archbishop are also very disturbing," they noted.

"We join the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in demanding the release of Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid. His imprisonment is an offense to all democratic societies and to all institutions and organizations dedicated to the protection and preservation of human rights."

"We ask the government of FYROM to correct this injustice and to free Archbishop Jovan without delay. Furthermore, we call upon our government to intercede and implement appropriate measures to hasten this process."

Contact: SCOBA Office
8 East 79th Street