Father Nikodim Tsarknias
Father Nikodim Tsarknias is a monk of the Orthodox Christian faith. He is a citizen of the Republic of Greece and is a member of the ethnic Macedonian minority of that country. He was an ordered member of the Greek Orthodox Church (the only church legal in Greece) from 1973 until 1991. Father Tsarknias served as a personal secretary to the Florina (Lerin) diocese's bishop, Augustine. Father Tsarknias opposed bishop Augustin's attempt to eradicate the Macedonian religious customs, which have been suppressed by the Greek government since it annexed part of Macedonia (Aegean Macedonia) in 1913.
After openly declaring his ethnic Macedonian identity in 1991, and having communicated with parishioners in the Macedonian language, he was dismissed from his ecclesiastical post in the diocese of Florina (Lerin). He assumed the same post in Edessa (Voden) but was subsequently dismissed there also. On March 11, 1992, he was expelled from the Greek Orthodox Church altogether. Because the Macedonian Orthodox Church is not recognized by the this church, or the Greek government, Father Tsarknias became an ordered member of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in the Republic of Macedonia. Although he has no church in which to carry out religious services, Father Tsarknis continues to provide for the religious needs of his parishioners in their homes, at their call.
He has been continually harassed by Greek government officials in an attempt to stop his activities. He is under constant observation by the Greek secret police, the K.I.P. He has been subpoenaed over twenty times to answer the charge of "falsely impersonating a priest". Several human rights organizations and international observers have attended the trials of Father Tsarknias.
- "On May 10, 1994 Amnesty International wrote to the Greek government expressing concern for the Archimandrite and his sister Maria who on May 4 were beaten by Greek border guardswhen crossing the border check point at Nikki (Negochani) between the towns of Bitola in the Republic of Macedonia and Florina (Lerin) in Greece (Aegean Macedonia)."
"Amnesty International stated 'Archimandrite Tsarknias was arrested and sent to the Regional Office of the Department of Defence in Florina (Lerin) for further interrogation. Hecollapsed there and was transferred to the General Hospital of Florina for medical treatment. It is not clear on what charges he was arrested; however the charges were later dropped and he wasreleased.'"
"Amnesty International stated that it believed that the human rights of the Archimandrite and his sister had 'been violated by the Greek authorities purely because of their non-violent activities on behalf of the Macedonian minority in Greece.'"
"Harassment of the Archimandrite continues. On May 11 he was again unable to leave Greece to visit Canada and was told that his safe passage across the Greek border could not be assured. On June 18 he was due to appear in court at Edessa (Voden) on charges of misrepresenting religious authority but the trial was postponed due to a lawyer's strike."
"Outside the courtside the Archimandrite and his sister Stoyanka were physically assaulted by Greek police and taken to the General Hospital where medical staff verbally abused them anda male nurse attempted to choke him." 3
To this day, the Greek government continues its policy of trying to eradicate anything Macedonian. The 300 year old cemetary at St. George's church in the village of Gorno Pozharsko (Greek name - Ano Loutraki) was destroyed in May, 1998. The old Macedonian church has been left in ruins while a new Greek church was built on the site of the old cemetary. The following picture shows the demolished Macedonian tombstones beside the new Greek church.