by TASZ / Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
The 2/3 majority Hungarian Parliament, with a resolution published on June 7, set up an ad hoc parliamentary committee to investigate the events in Gyöngyöspata. Despite the fact that based on the title and preamble of the resolution, the task of the committee is to investigate the background of criminal activity by uniformed personnel and to assist in eliminating it, out of the nine tasks listed by the resolution five (!) are concerned with the evacuation of the Roma by the Red Cross and the role of Richard Field. The resolution – recalling the documents of the staged trials of the 1950s – is prejudiced when, among others, it states: “establishing who and why claimed untruthfully with regard to the long-existing activities of the Red Cross that the evacuation of the Romas from the scene was taking place, what was the reason and objective for this causing of panic”.
In Gyöngyöspata, Hungary, ever since March 2010 extremist anti-Roma groups – pretending to be militiamen and vindicating the right to maintain public order – have started a systematic campaign of intimidation against the Roma. For weeks they illegally patrolled the village and provoked the Roma adults and children. The government and the police have contributed to the escalation of the situation by their inaction.
To read the full press release go to this link: http://tasz.hu/en/news/show-parliamentary-committee-investigates-events-gyongyospata
by Bernard Rorke
Agnes Osztolykán, the first and only Roma woman elected to parliament in Hungary, recently received the 2011 International Women of Courage Award. At the awards ceremony, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton paid tribute to Osztojkan: “For overcoming racism and discrimination to emerge a leader in elected office, serving as a proud defender of the Roma people and culture, and tirelessly pressing for equal rights and the inclusion of minorities in society, we thank you for your work, we thank you for your example, and we will stand with you.”
In the following conversation, Osztolykán reflects on her life and career to date as a Roma activist in Hungary, where the personal is acutely political.
Did you expect to win this award? Has it been a long road for you as a Roma woman to national politics and international recognition?
The award came as a total surprise … I assumed it normally went to women active in civil society in Africa and Asia, and I know it was not given to me as Agnes, but rather it was to acknowledge the importance of the whole Roma issue.
It’s been a long road, but not a hard one. I was born in a small village where my parents still live. They were manual workers but always cared deeply about my education. I was an excellent pupil in primary school, and with the encouragement of my teachers and the support of my parents, I was enrolled to attend an elite high school in Budapest alongside the children of the rich and famous in 1989. The first two years were very hard because my level of knowledge was lower than the others, and I spent all my free time in the library to catch up, and I did. My teachers were very kind and encouraging and my parents strongly believed in me. Coming from a small village of 800 people, there were many who assumed I would fail in Budapest and have to come home. I was determined to prove them wrong.
And where did you study in university?
At the time, my parents had jobs and could support me financially, and my first wish was to go to the law university, and they organized special courses for high school students. But this was just a short time after the system change, and I was advised that it would be difficult for someone from my background—as the first generation from my family to pursue third level education—to be admitted to the Law Faculty, which was still the preserve of the offspring of the Hungarian elite.
I was accepted to the newly established Political Science Faculty in the university in Miscolc. I had lived in dormitories with other students before, but the environment was completely different from Budapest—in Budapest, it was not an issue whether I was Roma or not, the only thing that mattered was the possibility to achieve and progress. But in Miscolc, it mattered: the fact that I was Roma mattered very much to staff and students alike.
…in a negative way?
Yes of course, and this was precisely the time when young right-wing people in Hungary started to organize in skinhead gangs and this trend was very visible in Miscolc and Eger. I decided then and recognized that I cannot deny my identity or ignore this issue. It wasn’t the best of times I can tell you, and it was made worse by my father losing his job and my mother falling ill. Many times I offered to quit my studies and go to work but my parents insisted I complete my studies.
How did you first come into contact with Roma activists in Budapest?
During my university years I spent a lot of time with friends and relatives in Budapest and in 1996 I met with Horvath Aladar and the young Roma intelligentsia who had set up Romaversitas, and they invited me to work with them as an organizer. My thesis dealt with the plight of the homeless, and I spent a lot of time among them in homeless shelters, it was hard for the soul to witness such deprivation.
I graduated cum laude in 1998, and faced a choice whether to work in civil society or in government. Fidesz had just won the election and I decided this was not the party and politics not the path. I began teaching in an afternoon school in the 8th district with young Roma students from very deprived backgrounds. I loved this work very much, and it made a lasting impression on me.
In 1998 the Soros Foundation–Hungary hired me as a program manager responsible for Roma law, Roma media, and visual education. At the Soros Foundation I met the most open, most intelligent, and most progressive people in Hungary, and it was the first opportunity for me to deal seriously with the Roma issue.
What prompted the move into politics?
Around 2009, a loose grouping of young non-Roma from civil society who knew my background and experience, approached me for discussion and friendly consultations as they wished to organize and establish an official political party. This became LMP, which translates as “Politics can be different.” They wanted me to join them, and I said OK, let’s see your program and your position on Roma. We began working together, and I drafted a lot for them and invited other young Roma to join. In the 2009 European Parliament elections, I had a symbolic place on the party list but I think it was important for me and for LMP.
The party wanted me to run in the national elections in 2010, and due to personal circumstances it took a lot of persuasion before I agreed. Another Roma woman turned down the opportunity. I argued with her that we always say the non-Roma never make room for us to take a leadership role: “Now we have an opportunity to be in the front row and take our places in the Hungarian Parliament.” I eventually agreed to be placed second on the Budapest list.
I can still remember the evening of the election: one minute huddled over the TV in the party offices, the next minute the party leader grabbed my hand and pulled me into the full glare of the TV cameras and crowds of reporters. At that moment it dawned on me that we had won seats in the parliament. I called my father and told him “Dad, I think I’ve become a member of the Hungarian Parliament.” He was stunned; he said “I see,” wept, and then hung up the phone.
Entering Parliament must have been daunting. In the 2010 elections, the neofascist Jobbik party emerged as the third force in national politics. Do you remember the first day in Parliament?
At the swearing-in ceremony of the new parliament, the men and women from Jobbik were clad in black and white uniforms, and the rest of the MPs were in dark suits. I wore a very special colorful traditional Roma dress with vivid floral patterns, made by a Roma fashion designer. This not only provided photo opportunities for the media and a strong contrast to the black and white uniforms of the far right, but was acknowledged by Roma and non-Roma as a very important symbolic message.
And what is it like in Parliament, sharing the opposition benches with a radical racist party whose election campaign was first and foremost an anti-Roma hate campaign? How difficult is it for you, as a women of undoubted courage?
After the election I chose education as my expert brief. I was not going to be just “the Roma MP,” but of course in a situation with far-right people sitting close to us in the Parliament it became inevitable that I would deal with Roma issues as well.
Sometimes it’s very hard for me personally to listen to them when they speak of “gypsy criminality,” and basically use parliament to spread hate speech. And very painful for me when they began to organize with hate groups and paramilitaries outside of Parliament, going to the villages declaring that they will create order and intimidating Roma communities. When it started in Gyöngyöspataa, I was actually in Washington but returned to witness the same thing in Hejőszalonta.
I was there and what was particularly chilling was to see that so many of these people marching and screaming “gypsy killers” and “gypsy criminals” had brought their children with them. Of course I get a lot of abusive and threatening emails, especially after Hejőszalonta because I made a speech in Parliament calling on Zoltan Balog and the government to halt these racist provocations engineered by Jobbik, and asked if they were waiting until somebody is killed, or the conflict escalates before they intervene. It was the first time I heard Balog speak harshly, but his remarks were directed not to me but to Jobbik, and he demanded that they bring a halt to this because maintaining law and order is the task of the government and the police and not Jobbik.
In parliament Jobbik are relentless in their crude hate speech. At the outset I thought that there must be some intelligent people in this party that through discussion could be cured of their prejudice. Now I see that there is no possibility and that the majority are hard core racists. We recently had a week of argument and debate in a parliamentary committee to modify the criminal code to deal with hate groups.
The other day, after four hours listening to rubbish about “gypsy criminals” and how they will kill the whole Hungarian people I told my fraction leader; “Andris, I don’t have enough energy to listen to any more of this.” Like any human being I have my good days and bad days, and on a bad day it’s much harder to tolerate this—but I always face them and would never show weakness—I face them and smile to show I am stronger than they are.
It’s funny but they have a grudging respect for me; they are racists and use foul words, but not when they speak to me. When they speak ill of Roma leaders, they tell me that I am the exception. I smile and remain courteous, but this is not an easy time in my life.
Fidesz, the ruling political party in Hungary, has come under fire and attracted international criticism on a range of issues, but has made Roma integration a priority of their EU presidency. What’s your opinion?
I will acknowledge the achievements of Fidesz when I see progressive Roma people in their party. I cannot imagine how Roma people of good will and self-respect, can sit silent in parliament, just listening to concrete hate speech. I argue with them in the corridors afterwards about why they don’t speak up. They say it’s not their task. When I contacted the Fidesz Roma after Gyöngyöspataa and called on them to make a joint statement, their reply was that they have read the papers, listened to and watched the news, and that nothing happened! Fidesz Roma guys—how can I work with them when they say nothing happened in Gyöngyöspataa?
It sounds good that the Hungarian EU Presidency launched the Roma Framework and that the government wants to deal with Roma integration, but I would like to see concrete steps taken when it comes to budgeting time. During the negotiations from October to December last, I made several amendments related to education, LMP made several recommendations related to Roma—all were ignored, nothing we submitted surfaced.
Beyond declarations I have yet to see anything concrete. They speak of two priorities in the media: to increase the number of Roma students in the high-school system; and to create 100,000 job placements for low-skilled Roma. I don’t see where or from what budget line these jobs will be created because no provision has been made for it. There’s money for scholarships and that’s it.
So it’s very good that we can begin to speak about a European Framework for Roma Integration. I know that this situation is so thanks to the Decade, because I remember how for years we pushed the EU to take the issue seriously and respond as an institution to Roma inclusion. But when you read the Communication, which I am absolutely sure will be accepted by the Council, the tone is that “we should,” “we encourage”—what’s missing is strong words about what we must do. I am sorry to say it but I think this is just going to be another piece of EU paper.
Looking to the future, do you imagine it will be better or worse for your son and other Roma children growing up in Hungary?
Sometimes I felt that I should flee the country and that I don’t want to bring my son up here. I don’t think the future looks too good for our children, but of course it depends on your standard of living and lifestyle. Its easier for my son; he has the opportunity to go to a good school, lives in a nice environment and of course with my circle of friends and their children he never has to experience prejudice. It’s totally different for Roma kids from poor families in the countryside. The situation is so bad. There needs to be a strong and clear message from civil society concerning anti-Gypsyism and a show of solidarity with Roma in the countryside.
Every country to some extent reflects the attitudes of its elites and as long as the Hungarian elite is incapable of taking action to counter this, then the wider non-Roma population will do nothing. And just yesterday I read the latest research from Katalin Klaus, which finds that anti-Roma prejudice is stronger and more common among the better educated and better-off parts of society than it is among the least educated and poorest people in the villages.
This is all very disturbing, and these are not the best of times, but I do believe that “politics can be different” and will continue the struggle to make it so, and to convince more young progressive Roma to take an active part in LMP to make that difference.
To go to the original interview: http://blog.soros.org/2011/06/politics-can-be-different-a-conversation-with-agnes-osztojkan/
Time to transform international obligations into effective implementation at home – Press Release of the UN Special Rapporteur on RacismPosted: June 1, 2011
Hungary / Racism: “Time to transform international obligations into effective implementation at home” – UN expert
BUDAPEST / GENEVA (31 May 2011) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism, Githu Muigai, commended the Hungarian Government’s efforts to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the country. However, at the end of his first mission* to Hungary from 23-27 May, Mr. Muigai drew attention to a number of crucial challenges yet to be overcome.
Since the last visits of the Special Rapporteur on racism in 1999 and the Independent Expert on minorities issues in 2006, the expert noted that Hungary has made significant legislative, political and institutional efforts to fulfill its international human rights obligations and commitments with respect to the situation of national and ethnic minorities and the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
“But challenges remain,” according to Mr. Muigai, “including as to the implementation of the measures taken.” These are some of them:
Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants
The situation of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants is a matter that calls for some attention. Complaint of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia by refugees and asylum seekers on a daily basis were reported during the mission and the Special Rapporteur expressed his concern at the conditions of detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants, including women, elderly persons, and children. It is important for the Government to ensure that it fully complies with its international human rights obligations.
National and Ethnic Minorities
Efforts undertaken by the Government to address the needs of, and problems faced by national and ethnic minorities ought to be noted. However, it is important to ensure that the recent constitutional changes will not weaken the current legal and institutional framework for the protection of minorities rights.
While the Government has developed key important measures to address the situation of Roma, their situation has not improved in the last years but rather worsened. They have been the most affected by Hungary’s difficult transition period from socialism to a market-based economy and they continue to face racism, racial discrimination and intolerance in the areas of employment, education, housing and health. Reports of violence and abuse against Roma by the police, and discrimination in the judiciary, including in the criminal system, were also brought to Mr. Muigai’s attention. “If we do not act now, there may not be a tomorrow on this issue,” he said. “There is a great urgency to reinvigorate the education of Roma with all the necessary resources of the Hungarian Government. Hungary will have succeeded when it removes Roma from poverty, lack of education and unemployment”.
Immediate action is required to tackle anti-Semitism in Hungary. The Government must be vigilant and the necessary mechanisms to address this issue should be set up.
Extremist political parties, movements and groups
“Hungary is a young and dynamic democracy,” the Special Rapporteur said calling upon the vigilance of the Government vis-à-vis the resurgence of extremist political parties, movements and groups, some of which are alleged to have racist platform. The expert also drew the Government’s attention to hate speech. It is important to prevent such behaviour and ensure that those responsible for racist acts are held accountable and the victims provided with appropriate legal remedies.
During his mission, Mr. Muigai travelled to Ózd, Gyöngyöspata, Pécs and Mohács. He held meetings with the local authorities, the representatives of the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, the Ministry of National resources, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The expert also held discussions with the Parliament, members of the municipal court in Budapest, political parties, representatives of civil society, lawyers, community members, academics and private citizens. The expert also met with the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. Mr. Muigai also visited a prison in Budapest (Fővárosi Büntetés-végrehajtási Intézet) and a school in Ózd.
A full report of the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Hungary will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012.
Githu Muigai (Kenya) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in August 2008. He is a lawyer specialized in international human rights law. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on racism was established in 1993 by the former Commission on Human Rights to examine incidents of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and official measures to overcome them. It was further extended by the Council in 2011.
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur’s: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/NewsSearch.aspx?MID=SR_Racism
OHCHR Country Page – Hungary: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/HUIndex.aspx
For more information and media requests please contact: Ms. Kellie- Shandra Ognimba (Tel: +41 22 917 92 68 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or write to email@example.com.
CoMMMunity.hu is putting on a Media Workshop about Crisis Reporting.
Time: 2:30 pm – Wednesday, 1 June
Location: Gödör Klub (1051 Budapest, Erzsébet tér).
The event is open to public! Please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The workshop will be moderated by Ferenc Hammer, media sociologist, and will examine the media coverage of the recent Gyöngyöspata events. The event is organized with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Runa Hellinga, a journalist from the Netherlands.
Élő Anita (Heti Válasz)
Gavra Gábor (Hírszerző)
Magyari Péter (Index)
Papinot Ferenc (Sosinet) és
Tódor János (MaNcs, ÉS, Amaro Drom)
To go to the original invite: http://www.commmunity.hu/2011/05/28/krizisujsagiras-muhelybeszelgetes/
To go to the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=169037479823481
Author: Dániel Vince
2011. 05. 06.
The events at Gyöngyöspata have been thoroughly dealt with by the entire Hungarian press; our site relied largely on the reports of the Facebook Group called “Százezren Gyöngyöspatáért” (A Hundred-thousand for Gyöngyöspata) constantly tracking the events for two days. There is a clear need to cover what’s happening in Gyöngyöspata, since the conflict – long feared, suspected and in some subcultures expected – between the Roma and the members of certain illegal, paramilitary organisations eventually broke out in the town. It makes a huge difference though how we cover the story.
There have been several ways for press correspondents to cover the events. One – the least exciting one – was the viewpoint of the right-wing extremists, who claimed that it was thebloodthirsty Roma who attacked the peacefully walking Hungarians. This is not even worth discussing. Another possible viewpoint for the journalists to approach the events is to take into consideration all the past prejudices that have been out there for centuries, the exclusion and discrimination against the Roma – and at the same time to not forget the hardships faced by the non-Roma, either. A third possible way is to apply a hyper-correct glaze and deal with the topic in a thoroughly civilisatorian manner.
According to the footage of the surveillance camera, it is likely that the local Roma attacked members of “Véderő” (Defence-Militaries), who had long been provoking them; this was a law breaching act, even in light of the frustration that had accumulated by then. In local reports, however, the events had of course another scene, which was hidden from the camera, and it was probably there that the Véderő-members were throwing stones at the houses of the Roma – an act that has since been kept in silence by press.
Covering the lives of the local Roma and non-Roma would be an exciting sociography or reportage. Clearly, there is frustration and fear – prejudices and bad experiences – on both sides. It is not quite obvious though that journalists need to build on these thoughts and take the viewpoint of the white middle-class male looking down upon gypsies – who of course steal, refuse to work, frighten lcal elderly women, and kick schoolteachers to death.
On 29 April, index.hu published a long report on the events of Gyöngyöspata, called Az ördög gyöngyöspatája (The Devil’s Gyöngyöspata – the pun being that “pata” means “hoof”). The text wanted to be very correct, so much so, that even commenters of Mandiner loved it – this is crucial as the commenters at Mandiner are famous for their bluntness. The article was such a success that even Szent Korona Rádió (Holy Crown Radio) praised it and what’s more – reposted it.
The article evoked long debates in several Facebook groups. In one group, which is largely visited by journalists, the common view seems to be that the Index article was in line with professional rules and was informative. In another one you can read angry comments and many claimed the text was soft-racist and only added to the frustration.
Since the tension of the debate is perceptible, it is worth analyzing the article step by step.
The introduction of the article generates some tension right away: “The local Hungarians say, they had been driven away from one of their favourite hills by the Gypsies, and that now a street is likely to be going under.” Is this only a bad reflex or unconsciously dividing language? Why divide the locals into Hungarians and Gypsies? Are the Gypsies not Hungarian or not that Hungarian?
How is it possible that the Index’s correspondent was asked by the police to identify himself six times? An exciting question. Such vexation is indeed upsetting, but with just minimal awareness of the topic, it is not surprising at all. Many of the Roma in the Borsod region experience such harassment by the police on a daily basis, as documented by the videos of the TASZ Roma Program (TASZ – Hungarian Civil Liberties Union). In addition, the situation in Gyöngyöspata has been critical for weeks, culminating in that particular night. So is it bad just a bad automatic response again, or is it the arrogance of “the man in trousers”?
The non-Gypsies in the article – or to use the Index terminology, the “Hungarians” – complain that they have to live closer and closer to the Gypsies, who commit crimes, are loud, etc. Of course, you can write this all down, but the Gypsies will be forced in a defensive position throughout the article, having to constantly refute the statements of the non-Gypsies. Such an approach would be a violation of human dignity in any case, but in this one it is outright humiliating. (No wonder that even the Mandiner readers liked the article)
It seems that Index has successfully taken over the intolerable infantilisation introduced by the tabloids. The author, Péter Magyari, writes the following: “it was in this street that the right-wing extremist website barikad.hu shot the film that Jobbik used for its nationwide propaganda around the village. And this is where Uncle Józsi lived, who, according to the party, committed suicide because the Gypsies were preparing to move into his neighbourhood.” It is not quite clear why he had to use “Uncle Józsi” since the vast majority of the readers have definitely no idea who József was, so this odd use of “Uncle Józsi” could have easily been avoided. Besides, instead of “objectively” taking over Jobbik’s narrative, it would have been worth mentioning that the road to the man’s suicide had been rather long and complex and opinions vary even in the village as to what the motives really were. It could have been expected that the article at least mention this – it could have also referred to the article of the Magyar Narancs. They cited barikad.hu after all…
The article raised the important point that it is impossible to sell property in an area inhabited by a lot of Gypsies. This is probably true, but it is not self-explanatory at all that the Roma are to blame for it. Glenn C. Loury’s ‘The Anatomy of Racial Inequality’, a crucial book about African Americans in the US, reveals that the process often works just the other way around. For some reason – bad school system, shortage of jobs – the price of real estate begins to drop and the ghettoization slowly begins. The article however fails to mention anything along these lines and instead accepts the premise that when Gypsies appear, the price of real estate drops. It thus involuntarily suggests that once again Gypsies are to blame. (Not to mention the rumour that the aim of the Nazi scandal had been to keep decreasing the prices even further, so that they can buy land in areas in crisis…)
The myth of the Roma unwilling to work also features in the article – at least as told by the local non-Gypsies – saying that they are not willing to work for 3000HUF in the vineyards, so unskilled workers must be brought to the town. No Roma was asked by the reporter to comment on this. The journalist fails to report that there might be historic conflicts out there for decades which have generated the need to import workers. The bottom line is that the Gypsies (= the non-Hungarians) are not willing to work. Relating to work, an obscure experiment is also mentioned, where some seeds and potatoes were given to the Gypsies, who devoured the whole crop. The story is unclear, flawed, and of course the parasitic ones are once again the imaginary Gypsies. (Meanwhile we can see from other interviews that the Roma have indeed sowed their gardens, and have similarly been robbed, which could hardly be the fault of the robbed ones…)
This is a paradoxical situation. The leading correspondent of the leading online outlet is clearly acting bona fide in an exclusionary manner with the already tormented Roma of Gyöngyöspata . The reason why the article can be popular among the xenophobic but haughty audience of Mandiner is that it completely lacks any empathy. It does however have all the cultural superiority of the white middle-class male, who is of course, always right.
To go to the original article: http://www.commmunity.hu/2011/05/06/a-fehergalleros-ujsagirasrol/
On Tuesday evening, a fight broke out between the local Roma and supporters of Véderő, who sneaked back to Gyöngyöspata. The Roma say the extreme right wingers in uniforms were prvoking them all day and hit one of them in the end. The leader of Véderő said, around 100-120 loval Roma attacked four men, who were walking peacefully without uniforms. Four are injured, one is badly hurt. Hundreds of police have arrived.
A fight burst out around 9 pm at Gyöngyöspata on Tuesday night. The local Roma – recently known because of the trainings held there by the extreme right-wing group, Véderő– said to Index that something snapped for good in this town, where many are fleeing from. The representative of the National Ambulance service told index, four people were taken to hospital in Hatvan, one with severe and three with less severe injuries. Hundreds of police have arrived to Gyongyospata.
János Ladó, representative of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation who was on the ground, said to Index that more and more uniformed Véderő members were sneaking back on Tuesday. They, and their local Gyöngyöspata supporters were provoking those Roma who live not in the Roma neighbourhood, but in the central areas of the town. Allegedly, they also threatened them with a gun during the day.
By the evening, in the middle of a birthday celebration, the provocation increased, and more and more gathered on both sides. The Roma called the police, first one patrol arrived, then more policemen.
While the crowd was gathering in the central areas of the town, some threw stones at the windows of one of the houses in the Roma neighbourhood, some 10 minutes walk from there, then assaulted a 14-year-old local Roma boy. A serious fight in the Roma neighbourhood followed; according to Ladó some were seriously injured, he saw three. Police called for more police backup. This was also confirmed by representative of TASZ [HCLU- Hungarian Civil Liberties Union] who saw a group of police cars on the highway, on their way to Gyöngyöspata.
Captain Bálint Soltész, spokesman of Heves Megye Police Headquarters, confirmed to Index that the two groups really ’got across’ on Tuesday night. According to Soltész, some were injured, at least the ambulance was called, but he could not report any details, such as how many police arrived and whether they asked for backup.
Ladó claims that the situation is very tense in the town. After Tuesday’s fights panic is palpable, the situation got worse even compared to the recent days.
A local Roma activist said to Index that he cannot report as he is about to evacuate his family from the village. He says that there was no peace even in the recent days: many villagers hosted extremists of Véderő, who were ‘hiding out’ there in the recent days after having been sent away from their camp during the weekend. There is news spreading in the town, that an armed attack happened, but there is no information about shootings. We must remember that upon the return of the local Roma women and children on Sunday, after they fled on Friday, Janos Farkas, local Roma leader said after the next incident the minority will leave the town for good.
Tamás Eszes, leader of Véderő who bought land in Gyöngyöspata and organised the military training during the weekend, said after 11pm that he was on his way to Gyöngyöspata, where – according to him – 100-120 Romas attacked four civilian, peacefully walking men with pegs. He says that one of them was a member of Véderő, but others were locals, and all of them had to be taken to the hospital.
Political catastrophe tourism
Laszlo Horvath, county government representative said to MTI: it is impossible to handle the situation now. He says the ‘catastrophe tourism’ must end, this is where the political festival that started in March has led. The politician walk around a few streets in Gyöngyöspata and the locals told him “they are tired of being threatened as Hungarians in their own homes” and “there are a lot of policemen here, where have they been?”. There were some who said the video recordings of on the ground events will disappear again – the fight was recorded. Many criticized the party LMP [Politics Can Be Different], because they are said to turn up after such incidents and give money and such to the Roma, who then feel what they do is right.
What has happened so far?
Members of Véderő arrived to Gyöngyöspata 16th April, according to the local Roma only to intimidate them. The right-wing group planned to organise a training camp at a wine-cellar that they were provided by the villagers. The self-appointed guards planned to invade the area at the weekend.
The series right-wing organisations’ marches started when a local inhabitant committed suicide in the end of February. According to the local Jobbik president, the elderly man killed himself, because some Roma, whose houses were damaged by floods, were to move in as his neighbours. The topic was snapped up by Jobbik, members of For a Better Future Civil Guard group appeared, then Véderő bought a land on the hillside above the Roma neighbourhood.
The camp was dismantled by the police 22nd April. Red Cross and and American entrepreneur took the Roma women and children from the village in the morning: some 300 hundred left Gyöngyöspata by bus. They were taken to a camp in Csillebérc, but have gone back home by now.
Members of Véderő appeared in Gyöngyöspata on Monday again, where they still plan on holding their military camp about self-defense and weapon use.
To go to the original article: http://index.hu/belfold/2011/04/26/verekedes_gyongyospatan/
Translated by L.B.
The tension that has been growing for weeks between members of Véderő – the paramilitary extremist group – and the local Roma has burst out.
A fight broke out between the two groups in Gyöngyöspata, many are injured and they called the ambulance – confirmed Bálint Soltész, press spokesman of Heves Megye Police Headquarters, to Hírszerző. Bálint Soltész could not yet tell how many were involved in the fight, how serious the injuries were and why the conflict burst out. According to the spokesman there is enough police is presence in the town, as there has been increased police control in Gyöngyöspata.
According to messages posted on the ‘Hundred Thousand for Gyöngyöspata’ [Százezren Gyöngyöspatáért] Facebook group, members of Véderő and other extreme right-wing groups invaded the Roma neighbourhood and broke windows. Leader of Véderő claims that Roma attacked the members of Betyársereg and Véderő.
The ‘Hundred Thousand for Gyöngyöspata’ Facebook posts state that the police blocked entry to Gyöngyöspata, the town is completely cordonned off.
According to the description on the ‘Hundred Thousand for Gyöngyöspata’ Facebook site “Véderő and their associates stirred some tension in Arany János street, the police appeared there, but in the meanwhile their Véderő fellows got into the Roma neighbourhood from Bajcsy street. Allegedly they knocked over a woman, threw stones at the houses, and the fight burst out, while the police was at Arany János street. Many are injured, on both sides”.
A witness claims that there are no serious injuries. A Roma teenager boy was beaten up by Véderő members, then the Roma who rushed there, beat up two of them. The injured were attended to, one Roma was taken into custody. According to a witness, storm-troops also arrested those members of Betyársereg and Véderő, who were involved in the fight.
There has been no news posted on the Facebook page about the Attila O., the Roma man who was taken into custody. Dozens of Civil Guards For a Better Future [Szebb Jövőért] members, who were not involved in the fight, are gathering at their headquarters. Based on the accounts of the locals, the police is sending the Roma home after they have gathered in the streets hearing what had happened. The police interrogated Gyozo B., the 14-year-old boy, who was abused by Vedero members – based on the accounts this was the primary reason of why the fight broke out.
There have been four injuries in the fight that broke out in Gyöngyöspata, Heves county, on Tuesday night – said MTI. The representative of the National Ambulance Service said to MTI, the first findings have revealed that one of those injured has serious injuries, the other have lighter ones. The injured were taken to the hospital in Hatvan.
To go to the original article: http://hirszerzo.hu/belfold/20110426_gyongyospata_tomegverekedes
Translated by L.B.