Hungarian Watch

Roma Residents Under Neo-Nazi Siege: So Where’s the Press?

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

More and more details are emerging on the dreadful situation for Roma residents in the Hungarian town of Gyöngyöspata, although, you’d never know it from the complete dearth of coverage coming from the international media. Searching around on the internet finds that, as of this afternoon, NO major international media outlets have picked up this story.  Please pass this information far and wide and encourage any local, regional, and national media contacts to begin covering this unfolding story.

Some of the most detailed reporting on the events in Gyöngyöspata is being done by the Roma Buzz Aggregator website:

According to the local representative of the Jobbik party in the Heves County village, crimes against property have become unbearable to the locals, who have therefore called the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future to protect them. Gábor Vona, the president of Jobbik said in Gyöngyöspata[1] that „those are not willing to integrate should leave the country.” More than 2,000 members and sympathizers of Jobbik and the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future held a protest in the village, which counts 2,500 citizens, against „Gypsy terror”, fearing that „crimes committed by the minorities could create a civil war situation.”

The Roma were astonished. According to them, generalizing and exercising arbitrary control over the whole village because of a few trouble makers is not a solution. Nearly 2,500 persons marched in black military-like clothing on 6th March 2011 in Gyöngyöspata, after the rally supported by the Jobbik party, through the village’s Roma neighborhood, chanting slogans about the restoration of public safety. The police arrived on the scene on the day of the demonstration but did not interfere in any way, regardless of the “abuse caused to the rights of the local Roma residents, which could have been a ground for the authorities to break up the protest”, as mentioned in the letter written by the members of Gyöngyöspata’s Roma community to the Hungarian Minister of Home Affairs.

After the end of the protest the activists wearing the black uniforms of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future, the “Defense Guard” or the “gendarmerie” did not leave Gyöngyöspata. They are there to this day and still terrorize the local Roma population. They stand in lines and surround the neighborhood. Because of their threatening appearance, the Roma do not dare leave their houses or send their children to school. Their stated goals and behavior clearly questions the state monopoly on the legitimate use of force. The village has a local police chief who had earlier initiated investigations into some thefts and closed some cases. However, many local residents considered it necessary to strengthen public safety by calling on the civil guards to protect their village. While the police doubled their presence on the scene two days after the protest, the members of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future and its sympathizers are still forming a human chain around the houses of Roma residents and say they are there to stay. The police, while present in large numbers, still do not interfere in any way, regardless of the fact that there is reasonable suspicion that offenses such as harassment and bodily injury are occurring on a day to day basis against many of the village’s Roma residents. Some of the protesters have vowed to stay on and guard the village until the local Roma self-government does not sign a declaration stating that the Roma will stop committing crimes. Attila Laszlo, the leader of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future said that he had heard about the municipality requesting that the Civil Guard should leave but that this was later retracted by the mayor. The mayor’s office confirmed his statement. According to their initial plans, they intend to stay until they train and organize a local branch of the organization made up of local residents…

“We went to Gyöngyöspata on Thursday, 10th March, and found we had to cross two checkpoints reminiscent of war movies to enter the Roma neighborhood.” wrote the http://www.sosinet.hu website. At that point tension was intense between the Roma and the people clad in black uniforms surrounding them. “During our interviews, local Roma inhabitants told us about the psychological terror and humiliation they are suffering, the constant fear they are feeling. It is not safe for them to leave their homes, even to go to work.” In their declaration, the local Rona draw attention to the fact that the members of the Hungarian Guard hidden behind “Civil Guard Association for a Better Future” and “gendarme” uniforms and openly supported by the Jobbik party have kept the Roma residents of the village in a state of constant fear for the past two weeks. The situation has come to a point where the Roma are terrified to leave their houses, stopped sending their children to school and do not even feel secure inside their own homes.

The Hungarian Democratic Charta and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), two NGOs, have expressed their shock at the lack of response of the Hungarian authorities: “We are shocked by the inaction of the police, which could encourage others to take similar actions and could deepen the loss of trust of the Roma minority in the authorities and the administration.” While many representatives of European governments and journalists from all over the world are currently in Hungary for the EU Presidency summits, neither the events, nor their statement have made it into the international press.

Watch video of the ultra-nationalist barikad.hu website on the events in Gyöngyöspata:
http://barikad.hu/barik%C3%A1dtv_gy%C3%B6ngy%C3%B6spata_feket%C3%A9n-feh%C3%A9ren-20110307

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