via Euronews: Vigilantes Force Hungarian Roma out of village

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Attack of the Guardist Clones

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Translation by Orsi Virág.

A Hungarian paramilitary extreme right wing group called Véderő (“Force of Protection”) is building a training camp in Gyöngyöspata next to the Gypsy row while in Hajdúhadház surrounded by the uniforms of the “Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future” Gábor Vona sais that it is not Viktor Orbán, but only the Jobbik (Vona’s extreme right party) that knows the solution for “Gypsy Crime”


It is still not clear at what time Véderő has arrived to Gyöngyöspata last Saturday. According to János Farkas, representative of local minority self-government, it was in the morning when the men in military appeared marching down the Gypsy row. The Roma in the street remember that members of the society showed up around one p.m., while the “commanding officer”, Tamás Eszes sais it was already late afternoon when they went up to the cellar at Kecskekő hill.

One thing is certain: Sunday afternoon when we look out the window of János Farkas’ home members of Véderő are already on the hill side wearing boots and uniforms watching the Gypsy row through their binoculars. According to Farkas they just came to scare the Roma marching several times a day up and down the Roma streets to the village and back. The mayor “doesn’t know” about their presence, and, together with a leader of local Jobbik, denies that there would be any kind of extremists marching on the Gypsy row when we call them on the phone.

All photographs by: István Huszti

A police vehicle passes by and Farkas sais that police is present only in order to prevent that the Gypsies attack the hill and they rather escort the neonazis instead of protecting the Roma. We hear a scream from the street, Véderő has started marching from the hill. When we step out the door self-appointed roma civil guards wearing high visibility waistcoats are trying to get women and children back into the houses with little success. Fear is suppressed by curiosity and anger. Eight Véderő members march in a rudimentary “formation” down the street, some Roma scream “we are not afraid of you” while others are trying to silence the loud ones. People in the formation remain silent marching through the curses with a superior smile.

“Last night an other house was attacked at the end of the Gypsy row, they threw stones at a window” – sais Farkas, while Roma civil guards are trying to get themselves together after the shock. A police vehicle arrives and a motorbike decorated with a nazi flag slowly rolls in. Police checks the identity of the bearded biker dressed in leather while there are more and more people gathering around, some swearing at the biker some at the police. Everybody is taking pictures, Roma civil guards take photos of the police action from several angles but Véderő members are also documenting the scene.

We head off to visit the house that is said to have been attacked. There are children playing in the creek full of trash next to the Gypsy row. Someone screams angrily “Lunch!” from a hut and one of the kids answers “Just a minute”.  The hut that was attacked stands in the end of the row, a little further it’s already the modern, pink and orange houses shining on us. The owners are waiting in front of the house to show the broken window and the two stones that the police took out of the house but of course didn’t send them to the lab.

“I asked when they were going to come but the police didn’t even answer” – sais the owner of the house. “Luckily my kids were sleeping elsewhere so nobody got hurt”

“I have recognized two of the aggressors but the police didn’t interrogate them” – complains the man adding that he didn’t believe the threats that there would be Gypsy blood spilling but now he knows that enraged Hungarians were not joking.

The broken window

We walk back via the Gypsy row and start climbing up the hill where Véderő is cooking on open fire. When they get to know that we are journalists of one of them immediately sais “ah, zsindex” playing on the words “zsidó” (Jew) and “index”.

Nobody is allowed to talk to the press, we have to wait for the commanding officer who is currently doing an “operative job” in the village in his special vehicle. Soon Tamás Eszes, the commanding officer of Véderő, proud new owner of the cellar arrives in his jeep.

Eszes claims that they don’t mean to intimidate the Roma with placing their campsite so close to the Gypsy row, they don’t want to guard public security either: they simply haven’t found a better site for the training.  The organization will also lease the land around the cellar (bought for a symbolic price) as “the owners don’t use it because of the Gypsies so they are happy that someone uses it for a good cause”, adds the leader.

Closed formation

According to Eszes they are not provoking the Roma they just cleaned up the raunchy cellar and its surroundings in order to train there from next week.

“We are organizing military trainings like MHSZ (Hungarian Defence Federation) used to organize, we train the youth how to protect themselves. There will be a formation training too, of course, so that they get familiar with discipline and subordination, so that they don’t only sit in front of their computers at home all the time” – sais Eszes in the uniform of Véderő with arms crossed, in the circle of members of the organization gathering around us. The “commanding officer” thinks that Véderő is not attached to any political parties, though he admits that the head of local Jobbik, Oszkár Juhász has already been to see them “up here”.  He tells us that members of Véderő can not be members of other organizations either, there are no members of the Hungarian Guard nor other extremist groups among them. However, we see many people wearing T-shirts of the “Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future”.

Eszes Tamás sais that they were attacked by thirty drunken Gypsies last Saturday and in the end he had to call the Gyöngyös Central Police himself to ask for protection. According to his story police could only stop the Roma with a warning shot. Gyöngyös Central Police denies this version. A lot of local Roma also say that there was no shot at all, some say they heard it but they think it was members of Véderő who fired it.

Tamás Eszes (ironically “eszes” means “bright” –as smart, clever– in Hungarian)

Tamás Eszes sais that they haven’t attacked any Roma houses but the Gypsies are screaming at them all the time, threatening them, spitting on their cars when they cross the Gypsy row to get from the cellar to the village. After this no one should imagine that they are going to bring them cookies, sais Eszes, and will introduce themselves politely to the neighbors.

Police patrol arrives again under the hill, Roma civil guards send a woman into her house (she is screaming angrily), while Véderő is arriving back from the “corner store”. The village seems peaceful.


Units of neonazi organizations have been patroling for a week in Hajdúhadház. We arrive to the town at four p.m. Policemen in white service caps control the traffic on each intersection where normally there is just one police patrol for 3 towns and villages. In the back-streets riot control police are smoking in small groups while people rush with Jobbik flags on the tip of fishing rods.

Jobbik is holding a grand assembly in the market square, traffic is controlled not only by police, members of the ”Society of Civil Guards for a Brighter Future” are also trying to make themselves useful. The “National Garrison” (Nemzeti Őrsereg) is also present: a few dozen elderly following a silk flag slouching up and down.

The high spirits of the event couldn’t be described better than by “To arms! To arms” (Fegyverbe! Fegyverbe!) chants at regular intervals when the speeches have hardly begun winning a modest ovation and some applause.

Tamás Schneider is giving a speech

After the national anthem it’s time to scream the regular “Lord, give us a brighter future!”. The whole field is chanting together. The last syllabe is still hanging in the air when a voice replies clearly “To you too, rats!”. After a minor confusion a local MP of Jobbik suggests to repeat the chant about the “brighter future” just to make sure, perhaps they didn’t hear well, but the reply comes again “To you too, losers!”

The “Civil Guards for a Brighter Future” are immediately ready to report to duty trying to find the saboteur but somehow there is noone to enforce the action. The crowd is taken over by confusion, people are pointing at each other and the story is soon forgotten because on the stage Tamás Schneider, vice president of Jobbik begins to speak about that Hungarians have finally awaken and they are going to protect themselves from Gypsies and “Gypsy Crime” because certainly, there are good, hard working Gypsies as well, if only we could see them at last. However, for the majority of Gypsies crime, children as means of subsistence and unemployment benefits are the meaning of life and if it goes on like this then Hajdúhadház falls (in the battle) within 20 years and will even be barbarized.

Gábor Vona, president of Jobbik, starts a similar reasoning in the protecting circle of the “Civil Guards”. He mentions the need for sending problematic children to boarding schools and the benefits of self sustaining prisons. The leader of Jobbik also urges the transformation of family aid into a tax refund after the third child, in order to encourage childbirth only into families with a decent income.

According to Vona Jobbik is not being racist as they have no problem with decent Gypsies and all their bills are presented in a way that it equally applies for all Hungarian citizens. It’s not their fault that in the end these bills affect a certain group in a bad way.

The president of Jobbik then attacks Viktor Orbán who is just sending messages from Brussels like ‘nobody can be marching around scaring the public’ instead of finally making an order in East Hungary. In Vona’s opinion if Fidesz keeps destroying democratic institutions it will be impossible to replace the party even if they lose the elections which also means that only public anger will be able to overthrow their power. At this point the rhythm of the “To arms!” chant is increasing in the crowd.

Flags and sympathizers

After the speech of Vona everybody is sent home quick by the organizers, the Leader gives a few autographs and shakes hands with a few sympathizers, and the “National Garrison” marches away into the bleeding sunset or at least towards their microbuses.

There is hardly anyone left in the market square when one of the participants remembers that after all they got together to commemorate the late Ms. Margit so those who have a candle might as well lit it in front of the stage. For a memory.

via The Washing Post: Roma families evacuate village in Hungary to escape far-right vigilantes’ training camp

GYONGYOSPATA, Hungary — The Hungarian Red Cross evacuated hundreds of Roma women and children from their homes Friday because they were frightened of a far-right vigilante group that was setting up a training camp near their village.

The 277 evacuees from the village of Gyongyospata were taken by bus to other parts of Hungary because the local Roma are concerned about potential confrontations with members of Vedero, or Defense Force.

“We are afraid and we have reason to be,” said Janos Farkas, chairman of the local Roma council. “For the past nearly two months, Gyongyospata has been practically a battlefield.”

Several far-right vigilante groups, usually dressed in camouflage gear and heavy boots, have been patrolling the village, and others in eastern Hungary that have large Roma populations, with the stated purpose of defending the non-Roma residents from “Gypsy crime.”

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Easter in Gyöngyöspata

by Dorottya Karsay

This year we will miss our regular family Easter with ham and the well deserved rest. Today we are heading to Gyöngyöspata. We are civilians called by the local Roma who are afraid: police won’t protect them this weekend.

Véderő is organizing a three-day military training in the village. Last week they just “cleaned up” and did some “landscaping” which in fact meant two days of terrorizing the local Roma. However, tomorrow paramilitary forces will start the training. Their time table contains, among other things, use of firearms, target-practice, night tactics. After the passivity of police last weekend locals are afraid for a reason and they immediately accepted a private offer that allowed them to evacuate the majority of women and children for a few days.

Still Life in Gyöngyöspata. Photo by Péter Harkai.

We find it very important in the current situation to express our solidarity with the local Roma constantly harrassed by extremist groups marching in the village since early spring. We also want to be there so that the police protects the Roma and that they take action against the racist and hate-mongering manifestations of Véderő – at least this, if they won’t stop them from organizing their military training.

This Friday, on the Day of Earth, we are going to clean the creek next to the Gypsy neighborhood and the street. Saturday we will continue the work, we will dig canals in the gardens for excess water and dig up some gardens too so that potatoes and vegetables can be planted. Saturday afternoon we will celebrate with cooking together and music. Sunday we will play soccer, show a movie and, as requested by locals, organize a great game of cards. All this organized by civilians, of civil money, just because we want to be there – and because we need to be there.

Join us any time you wish, stay for as long as you want! You will get tools for the work and if you stay for the night it’s an extra cool thing because we will probably have to do nightshifts and it’s important that there is a lot of us. Bring a sleeping bad, clothes to get dirty and food! A photo or video camera can always come in handy!

Everybody is welcome!

The Nights in Gyöngyöspata Team

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Translated by Orsi Virág

“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.

Because your skin is a little darker. Hejoszalonta, 2 April 2011.

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.

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Translated by Péter László