Time to transform international obligations into effective implementation at home – Press Release of the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism

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”.

Anti Semitism
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: kognimba@ohchr.org) or write to racism@ohchr.org.


On White-collar Journalism

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.

With irresistible power

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.

Taking the High-stand. Photo by Péter Harkai.

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/

via Index: Bloody Fight in Gyöngyöspata

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.

via hirszerzo: Tension burst out in Gyöngyöspata – mass fight and full blockade of the town

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.

Aliens from Your Home Country

By Péter Harkai
April 7, 2011

Are mafia methods the motives underlying the events of recent weeks in Gyöngyöspata, or patriotism? Hard as it is to tell, the village is undoubtedly nicer without uniforms.

Changing landscape (photo: Péter Harkai)

Dangerous, cowardly and petty gnomes of the political Wild West opine that playing with fire is not only a tolerable act, but a God-given right and an obligation. Driven by their loaded and false beliefs these soldiers of everyday fascism are putting their hoods on to instill fear and trembling in the now iconic slum of Gyöngyöspata. Jubilant patriotism turned bitter: this grim ethnic fiasco is being refashioned by political bandits as an issue of national socialism, but as some claim, it may in fact be motivated by dirty and unsuppressed greed – at any cost.

Some “unconfirmed sources” say that a “group of friends” are rumored to be extorting protection money from well-off entrepreneurs, promising to safeguard their valuables by means of the uniformed “aliens.” In turn, the extorted sums keep reinforcing their positions.

But let’s not give credit to such hearsay, even though it would be a perfectly logical explanation of this national neo-nazi road show orchestrated by moneygrubbing mobsters “concerned” about the forints of the good Hungarian people.

Milk mixed with blood

Kid from the backyard (photo: Péter Harkai)

No matter how hard the extreme right press may be trying to cynically present the local events as fits their agenda, not everything has gone as planned. They have attempted to frame the dismal Sunday events as evidence of gypsy terror. Resulting from an evening provocation local gypsies threw things at the illegal patrol of the ‘Guard’ squad. The incident could be disapproved of, but not in light of the events that had led here: the dark militia insolently provoked the locals by marching through the gypsy slum while photographing and videotaping on their way, thus invading the privacy of the locals without asking for permission and likely not for sociographic purposes.

As it turned out later, tensions ran high after shots had been fired the previous night on Rókahegy, the hill above the Roma houses, causing widespread panic among the residents, which was then captured on film by the marching militia.

The events forced the local representative of CKÖ (the Roma Minority Government), the mayor and representatives of Szebb Jövőért (“For a Brighter Future”) civil guard association. Eventually, they merrily announced – possibly according to a pre-written script – that the Roma would cooperate with the patrolling militia – milk mixed with blood.

Trapped boots

Girls in a hurry (photo: Péter Harkai)

The director’s version of the script, however, had yet a bonus track to follow. Late on Monday night a number of frightened phone calls and emails have informed civil rights organizations about hundreds of militiamen flooding the slum. In the end, the police had to cordon the incoming roads to prevent the worst from happening.

Everyone “got what they wanted:” the Guard members were jeering, the police was keeping up the order and the gypsies were scared stiff.

The next morning members of the the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU, or TASZ in Hungarian) showed up to offer solidarity with the abandoned Roma of Gyöngyöspata, but as the dirty script would make sure, there were no militiamen left in the village. The reason is simple: the extremists had been hoping that the three parties in the talks of the previous day would be willing to sign an agreement, but the vocal Civil Rights groups would stall the agreement in their revolutionary zeal. Then any future militia presence would be justified.

However, it didn’t turn out this way. After some long and heated debate the CKÖ, the mayor, delegates of the HCLU and Szebb Jövőért (“For a Brighter Future”)did not sign an agreement, but reached a compromise to suspend talks until April 7, when they would resume the discussion along with the Police chief of the village and the head of the National Civil Guard Association. The goal of CKÖ and HCLU is to coerce local leaders into publicly denouncing intimidation tactics and stand up for peace and order and a brighter future. Inspired by civil rights groups the local gypsy community would take part in a joint civil guard association, provided that it gets rid of the name and uniform of the current, extreme right-wing civil guard group, Szebb Jövőért (“For a Brighter Future”).

This week Hungary has to submit its national action plan to the European Union for the EU Roma Strategy. Good luck.

To go to the original article: http://www.commmunity.hu/2011/04/07/nyolcadik-utas-a-hazad/
Translated by Péter László

Ghetto Logic: the Hungarian Police in Hejoszalonta

by Tünde Virág
The ghost of Jobbik is haunting the villages of Northern Hungary. Lak, Gyöngyöspata and now Hejőszalonta, all in two months. The reason for their presence and demonstration is always the same: protecting the elderly Hungarian inhabitants from the trouble-maker, useless gypsies. What is more, the latest demonstration was put on explicitly against ‘gypsy terror’. What is common in these villages, why does Jobbik choose them?

All three settlements are very poor. People who live there, both gypsy and non-gypsy hardly have jobs, if at all. Everyday life is burdened by poverty and the tensions of deprivation. There are hundreds of villages of this sort in the country, and if gypsies live there too, the public opinion is easily turned against them. Decades of living peacefully side by side, shared workplaces, childhood experiences and playing football together are all easily forgotten.

Murders were committed in Lak and Hejőszalonta,

which is unforgiveable and shock everyone. When no court decision has been reached yet and the investigations have not even been closed, Jobbik already knew who the murderers were and said the judgment out loud. Who perpetrators really were and why they did these monstrosities were not questioned – only their ethnic origin mattered. During the first few days after the murder they immediately stated, without any doubts, that the perpetrators could only be gypsies. Who else.

If murder happens in a village, everyone gets scared. Everyone double checks if the doors are closed at night and wakes up to any noise or bark for weeks to come. And of course, gossip starts, guessing who the perpetrator could be. In a village, where everybody knows each other, people see each other every day in the pub and the shop. It is hard to imagine that anyone, with whom we may have stood in the line together at the post office yesterday, killed someone the day before. Jobbik marches into this extremely sensitive and tense situation, with its Arpád’s stripes flags, Guard uniforms and torches, claiming and shouting that the murderers live in the gypsy neighborhood.

Nobody called Jobbik to either Lak, or Hejőszalonta.

They just went. To make tensions worse. And they will keep going until they find one village out of the many hundreds where they can tease the local non-gypsies to the point of attacking those in the gypsy neighborhood. Sooner or later they will find one.

Together with the officially banned, but in fact very lively Guard and other uniformed organizations, Jobbik challenge not only the state’s monopoly of violence, but – with their statements about the murders – the monopoly of justice as well. And the state, the government lets them. Why is that? What happened in Hejőszalonta on Saturday afternoon?

Jobbik is on the sports field in the village, civilians in the gypsy neighborhood at the edge of the village. Police on alert. Civilians organized themselves through Facebook – a nightmare of current dictators – to protect the local gypsies from Jobbik’s harassment with their presence and public involvement. Civilians and rights advocates did come – not too many though, so they easily fit in the gypsy area. What really shows the novelty and strength of the joint action is that the protestors were no longer the ‘Budapest intellectuals’ only. I didn’t count them and I might be wrong, but there might have been more of those young intellectuals, mostly gypsy, who live and work in villages similar to Lak, they know and and support each other. Their joint action and organization mean a lot more, because it shows that in various villages more and more communities of gypsies are formed, which are trying to protect themselves and stand up for their rights using their own voice and presence.

Saturday afternoon,

only getting access to the gypsy neighborhood was slightly difficult. The ‘gypsy neighborhood’ of Hejőszalonta is the last street of the village, like in almost any village in Hungary. In most of them, like here, gypsy families live in other parts of the town too, but there is always a need to appoint a place as the ‘gypsy quarter’, which people know about, forget in good times, and then rediscover. So that it is easy to identify that it is ‘those’ living there. Simple ghetto logic. Easy to surround and close down, which is what our police did on Saturday. The ‘gypsy neighborhood was closed and secured by the police. They stopped everyone who wanted to get in to the town and inquired which demonstration they wanted to join. So that they wouldn’t go to the wrong one. Politely and nicely.

Still, there was something creepy about the fact that the local gypsies and the sympathizers were waiting for the outcome of this evening at the edge of the village, cordoned off in a ‘cage’. Music and some chatting with friends not seen for long time or new acquaintances somewhat eased the tension, but the presence of the police and the cordons were more upsetting than reassuring. Who are they protecting from whom? They were probably protecting the civilians, activists, and press more than the local gypsies. If a gypsy in a village is slapped in the face or chased into his house by a whip, it’s no news, it’s no big deal for anyone in Hungary today. But – if it’s someone from the press, especially if they have contacts with press abroad, now that would be a bit awkward. So the torch-lit Jobbik demonstrators didn’t even need words to terrify – although there were enough of that too – but their presence and the march per se was enough.

This says a lot about us and our country,

that Jobbik is marching with torches, shouting openly racist slogans, verbally harassing and humiliating those behind the cordons and they are doing all this with police protection. Because the police’s orders were not to break up the protest and arrest the leaders of those semi-military organizations, which are openly trying to take over the tasks of the police and create order.

This Saturday afternoon was about of the weakness of the Hungarian state and government. It showed that today, Jobbik can say and do anything in Hungarian villages. While the government is messing around with the new constitution, Jobbik is questioning basic rights. The state left these places, the whole Northern part of Hungary, a long time ago, leaving behind social problems and making the locals solve all the conflicts arising from these. And although the locals are not asking for Jobbik’s help, it is loudly offering the easiest solution, always and everywhere.

For the original article go to: http://www.commmunity.hu/2011/04/04/gettologika-a-magyar-rendorseg-hejoszalontan/

Translated by L.B.

The death-march of Jobbik is waiting for an order

In torch-light, under the cloud of flags with Árpád-stripes and Jobbik symbols and between the walls of the armed riot control police unit a crowd of some hundred is marching in Hejőszalonta.

2nd of April, Saturday evening. Ten days ago, a fifty-year old, divorced woman was murdered in this village of Borsod County. The crowd, verbally abusing Gypsies, Jews and liberals was heading to the house of the victim, – called „the poor Teri” by the locals- who was allegedly murdered and robbed by an 18-year old boy. The presumed perpetrator is not from Hejőszalonta, he was just visiting his relatives who were tenants of the woman. The details of the crime are not revealed yet, the only known fact is that the later victim, her tenants and the suspected murderer had been drinking together that night. Nevertheless, everyone around me in the march is convinced that the woman is a victim of the „Gypsy terror”.

Jobbik made sure they fired up these feelings prior to the demonstration. They distributed their brochure called „Bors vezér”, the front page of which shows the alleged perpetrator among policemen. The caption: „We managed to snap a picture of the murderer from Hejőszalonta. The victim is again Hungarian…” White letters on red base proclaim: „Csanád Szegedi is on the warpath again!”; on the 8th page, the article of Gergő Balla, MP of Jobbik, refers to the victim as „Hungarian woman” and to the perpetrator as „Gypsy”. They suggest that the crime was ethnically motivated: “Gypsy killed Hungarian”. They reached their goal: The crowd marching through the settlement takes it as a proven fact, that the fifty-year old women is a victim of racist murder due to the Gypsy-Hungarian ethnic tensions.

I am walking with the crowd. The participants are shaking their fists at the houses where they think Roma live. There is no answer from the houses. The windows are dark, no one is looking around in the yards and the dogs are nowhere to seen. On the wall of a grey house, the name of the street is written incorrectly with cramped handwriting. The crowd is pointing at the words, laughing and saying: well-well, the Gypsies cannot even speak Hungarian. Next to me walks a well-dressed couple, around fifty, staring angrily at the silent houses.

– “All the Gypsies are parasites and workless nobodies! They are not only cutting out the trees, they are intentionally killing the Hungarians, they should all be damned and just get out of here – says the woman, who looks like an average shop assistant to me. Her husband with glasses, looking like an average artisan, goes further: my biggest problems are not the Gypsies but the Jews. Since the change of the political system, they are the lords here!

The politicians, giving speeches at the demonstration do not have to do much to convince the crowd. At the meeting before the torch-light march – where several people arrived in military formation, but the police was just standing by – the Jobbik politician Márton Szegedi was counting the sins of the Gypsy criminals endlessly. Then he threatened the leaders of FIDESZ and KDNP to put an end to the Gypsy criminality otherwise they will blame this government for each and every death of a Hungarian . Their punishment will be death or life-long imprisonment in “self-supporting” prisons. Zsolt Egyed made even bigger hit by “sending a message to those at the Middle-East who are planning to come here”. The message is: “we will clear away all the waste from Hungary!”

After being barded with such “theoretical armour”, the crowd approached the victim’s house. Halfway, we hear the choir of the counter-protesters from the Petőfi Sándor Street, which is closed by cordons: Nazis go home! Nazis go home!

Behind the cordons and the wall of policemen, participants of the counter-demonstration organized by Amnesty International, LMP and other civil organizations protest against the marching. There are approx. 100 persons, they arrived around 4/5pm. Orsolya Jeney, wearing the T-shirt of Amnesty is encouraging people through a loudspeaker: “We condemn the scapegoating of Gypsies. We came here to show that not only Jobbik exist in this country!”

Thanks to the cordons and the police the two crowds do not meet, but they are shouting at each other from a 50 meters distance. I am standing in the crowd of Jobbik. Next to me, a slim young man is shouting with red face: “You will all hang! Die you murderers!” A man around 40 comes closer from the other side to take pictures and the slim guy roars: “You dirty Jew!” The man answers calmly: – “Nazi prick”.

It’s over; the police is accompanying the marchers and won’t let them stop. The final destination is the house of the victim. At the scene of the murder, Gergő Balla sends a message to LMP: “it is Saturday, you should not be working”. The crowd rewards the verbal abuse of Jews with clapping. After that, the “teacher of the nation”, Árpád Miklós, Jobbik MP in Edelény says: “if the governments does not strengthen the police, then we will organize it for ourselves and take the power by force”. The crowd scans: “Arms! Arms! Arms!” and I look at the man with gimlet eyes next to me in uniform and army boots wearing unofficial insignia. I look at the members of the Guard, and the National Defence Army in the light of the torches, at these paunchy family men who stand at attention and wait resolutely for the next order.

Tension-inducing actions

Zsolt Török, spokesman of MSZP explained the absence of the socialists at Hejőszalonta by saying that maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the police, and thus the government. He added that since in situations like this political action can only induce further tension, MSZP is rather looking for solution than going to the demonstrations.

To go to the original article: http://nol.hu/lap/mo/20110404-parancsra_var_a_halalmenet
Translated by Eszter Kurtán