Fight for Autonomy
In order to deal with the Ottoman Empire’s inability to placate the discontent of our ancestors, immediate action needed to be taken. This action took the form of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and the Ilinden Uprising of 1903 which fought for Macedonian autonomy. Although the overwhelming majority of our Bulgarian Macedonian ancestors supported this momentous event, it failed miserably and our people suffered terribly through persecution, arrests, and executions by the Ottoman establishment. The leaders of the Uprising knew, without the support of the great powers of Europe, the odds of winning were impossible. They hoped, however, that at least some of the great powers would respond favorably with concrete support, but this did not happen. Life became even more unbearable for our people in the aftermath of Ilinden.
Things got even worse when the Ottoman Empire finally fell as a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. These wars ended with the partition of Macedonia to Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Greece and Serbia got the largest parts of Macedonia, while Bulgaria only received a very small piece. When partition was all said and done, our ancestors in the Greek and Serbian parts suffered even more than they did under Ottoman rule. They could no longer speak their own language, practice their own customs and traditions, and they were forced to worship in Greek and Serbian churches. They could no longer consider themselves Macedonians; they were now Greek or Serbian. Those who tried to stand against these imposed hardships were either imprisoned or put to death.