“Hungary’s ‘Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future’ should be disbanded”

 Minority ombudsman urges to suspend the activities and disband the “Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future” (Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület). In his report “on the events in Gyöngyöspata” Ernő Kállai came to the conclusion that locals have probably witnessed and suffered political manipulation.

Like a well planned scenario after a few days-weeks of marching the extreme right is provoking new conflicts between the Roma and non-Roma in the next village. They are reaching their goal: the majority’s discontent with the police is growing, prejudices against the Roma are stronger and stronger, increased police presence and extra media attention are guaranteed – writes Kállai Ernő in his analyzis on the emergence and the effects of the ethnic conflict in Gyöngyöspata.

According to the report of the minority ombudsman the events in Gyöngyöspata can not be separated from the socio-economic events of the past 20 years. The Hungarian state has abandoned multiply disadvantaged groups often living in segregation in various parts of the country. Instead of professional action against poverty, public speech is characterized by a fight against the poor.

Problems have started several years ago in Gyöngyöspata according to an investigation on the spot. The ruination of the cellars on Kecske-kő hill was mentioned by everyone but opinions differ on who is responsible. The majority is certain that it was done by the Gypsies, while local Roma say that materials were carried away by mostly non-Roma contractors.

Offences: truth and imagination

Allegations stemming from the world of legends are hard to set apart from real offences. A number of people complained about Roma youth gathering in the church garden scaring the elderly and tourists with their behaviour. The headmaster of the school who supposedly knows the life of local youth well does not know about such a thing. He only mentioned an old incident: a fight in the church garden – years ago.

It is rumoured that Roma students of the local school only let their schoolmates enter the washroom if they pay. The headmaster said that there was such an incident about eight-ten years ago but it doesn’t happen anymore.

It is a real case, on the other hand, confirmed by local Roma and non-Roma too, that last December the son of a local politician was severely assaulted by Roma children at school. The mother of one of the Roma boys personally apologized the following day publicly and personally from the family. The assaulted child was withrawn from the school.

The ombudsman’s report does not contain names of persons or political parties but the politician mentioned is probably the head of the local branch of Jobbik (a Hungarian extreme right party). According to some opinions this unfortunate event was perhaps the trigger of the extreme right’s demonstration.

However, the official reason given by Jobbik is the story of an elderly who committed a suicide. According to majority opinion the man killed himself because the Red Cross wanted to buy a flat for a flood victim Roma family next to his home. Rumors also say that he visited all his neighbours before his death and complained that he couldn’t take it anymore, the Gypsies took all that he had: the only way out that he saw was suicide.

The Roma, on the other hand, know about a different story: the elderly man killed himself because of family matters and health issues. The head of local police has verified this version referring to the statement of the family of the deceased.

In the past there had been no tension between the Roma and the rest of the population in the village

Despite the conflicts investigation on the spot has revealed that before the appearance of the extreme right there had been no serious tension in the village between the Roma and non-Roma. The head of the Heves County Central Police Station talked about similar experiences. The school’s headmaster estimated that there are at most three to five families with members involved in criminal activities: the majority of the Roma community has never committed any crime at all.

Conflicts have escalated right after the extremists marched in. Although part of the non-Roma locals talked about an increasing sense of security, the Roma reported enormous fear, pressure, disstress and feeling of persecution. The “men in uniforms” created a severe atmosphere of tension and fear in the village.

The “occupation” of Gyöngyöspata can repeat itself any time, (it has already begun) as there are several villages in Hungary where the State is not present anymore – warns Kállai. Any political party may take advantage of the situation to grow its own popularity by promulgating the notion of Roma and crime in its rhetoric. According to the ombudsman, from the events and circumstances in Gyöngyöspata it is probable that locals are in fact witnessing and suffering a political manipulation.

Public prosecutor should request disbanding of  ‘Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future’

Ernő Kállai has written more than thirty recommendations and proposals. He urges the Attorney General to examine: has there been a (cime) case of hate-mongering against a community and a criminal offence of violence against a community member in Gyöngyöspata. The minority ombudsman is initiating a legal supervision process against the ‘Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future’ at the attorney’s department. Kállai also urges the Attorney General to request disbanding of the Society and to suspend their activities until court decision.

The minority ombudsman requests legal refinement and stricter laws. He calls for the Home Secretary to prepare the amendment so that a civil guard organization may perform crime prevention activities only with a valid agreement on collaboration with local police and the municipality.

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