Int'l intellectuals protest against Slovak language law 2009-08-30 10:30:31   Print

    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 statement said.

    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 statement added.

    It also urged the prevention of tensions between nations and ethnic groups, criticizing the recent language law amended by Slovakia's parliament.

    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.

Editor: Xiong Tong
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