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
Terror of extremists and state inactivity in Gyöngyöspata – Report published by the Hungarian Civil Liberties UnionPosted: March 19, 2011
In HCLU’s view the terror-inducing activity of the people vindicating the role of order-makers in Gyöngyöspata did not fall under the category of freedom of assembly. Through their threatening appearance the persons „patrolling” the village for ten days questioned the exclusivity of the state’s monopoly on force, while the inactivity of the police created a legal uncertainty.
Associates of HCLU’s Roma program went to the village several times, preparing the casework for and video-recording the events and the Roma residents’ complaints. Based on our on-site experience we took a legal position on the situation, in which we analyze in detail, which measures the authorities should have taken based upon which paragraphs of the law.
On March 17th associates of HCLU personally made known HCLU’s legal position to Zoltán Balog, Secretary of State Responsible for Social Inclusion.
As we already emphasized in our letter sent on March 13th together with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) to the Minister of the Interior, in HCLU’s view a well-founded suspicion of serious crimes (especially the hate crime: violence against a member of the community) arises with regards to the events in Gyöngyöspata, as well as the criminal and disciplinary responsibility of the policemen and police force management failing to take appropriate measures.
Further we called Mr. State Secretary’s attention to the fact that the government failed to take a political stance at the appropriate time and on the appropriate level. We asked that the government make it clear for its citizens that the Gyöngyöspata activities of the members of paramilitary organizations were both legally and humanly unacceptable and that the police management failed to act, thereby endangering the security of the law. We asked that the government instruct the police via the Minister of the Interior to start appropriate criminal proceedings.
We called Mr. State Secretary’s attention to our conviction that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that in an effort to protect the minorities such situations do not develop in other villages, and therefore we asked the government to stop such situations with all possible means of the law from occuring in the future.
State Secretary Zoltán Balog made a promise that the government will consider our propositions.
HCLU provides legal aid to the victims of the Gyöngyöspata crimes and those wishing to press charges in the matter.
Link to the original article
17 March 2011
Budapest, London, New York, 18 March 2011: Yesterday, the European Roma Rights Centre, Amnesty International and Human Rights First sent a letter urging Hungarian authorities to intervene and protect the Romani residents of Gyöngyöspata from the intimidation and harassment they have been subjected to by the vigilante organisation, Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület (Civil Guard Association for a Better Future), since 1 March.
The Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület have been patrolling the town of Gyöngyöspata day and night. They reportedly prevent the Romani residents from sleeping by shouting during the night, threaten them with weapons and dogs and follow them every time they leave their houses, unimpeded by local police. The desperate Roma residents are afraid to go to school, to work or even to buy food. Finally, the Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület indicated that, having successfully established their presence in Gyöngyöspata, they will also set up chapters in other towns to expand their “patrols”.
The Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület patrols have been supported by the far-right political party Jobbik, which organised a march of thousands through the village in black military uniform on 6 March. According to the ERRC’s monitoring, there were at least 48 attacks against Roma in Hungary between 2008 and 2010, which resulted in at least 9 deaths. The presence of anti-Roma vigilante groups in Roma neighbourhoods adds to growing inter-ethnic tensions and fuels a climate of violence.
The organisations called for Hungarian authorities to fulfil their domestic and international human rights obligations in Gyöngyöspata, to intervene immediately to ensure the situation does not escalate into physical violence and to protect the Roma from intimidation and harassment.
Robert Kushen, Executive Director of the ERRC, said: “On April 7-8, Hungary will play host to a major European Union meeting to address Roma exclusion. It is critical that the Government of Hungary lead by example, and protect Roma within its borders from intimidation and harassment.”
For further information, contact:
ERRC Media and Communications Officer