BUDAPEST, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-four intellectuals,
including clergies, artists and researchers from many parts of the
world, issued a joint statement on Saturday protesting against Slovakia's newly
amended language law which restricts the use of all languages in that country
other than Slovak, local wire service MTI reported.
The law, signed by Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic
last month, stipulates that only Slovak language can be used in most public
offices and institutions. Repeat offenders must pay a fine of up to 5,000 euros
(7,125 U.S. dollars).
"It is a birthright of all people to communicate with
others who speak the same language in their common tongue. Restricting this and,
in particular, punishing it is one of the most serious violations of human
rights, one we believe all freedom-loving people must protest against," the
It called on European public opinion to become vocal
in protesting the Slovak law and the decision-makers of Europe and the North
Atlantic to halt the worrisome process before tension increases.
"We believe in a Europe whose citizens can live
freely, free of fear and with no impingements on their human dignity," the
It also urged the prevention of tensions between
nations and ethnic groups, criticizing the recent language law amended by
The issue of Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian minority has
long been a source of tension between Slovakia and Hungary. Hungarian accounts
for about 10 percent of Slovakia's population.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said that his
country respected the rights of national minorities and that Hungarian
politicians should not interfere with Slovakian affairs.
Signatories to the statement include Jozsef Palinkas
and E. Szilveszter Vizi, former and current presidents of the Hungarian Academy
of Science, Roman Catholic Archbishop Balazs Babel and Calvinist Bishop Istvan
Bogardi Szabo, Australian historian Ann Major, American history professor
Charles Ingrao of Purdue University, Israeli poet Yaakov Barzilai and American
literature professor Ivan Sanders of Columbia University.