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April 27 2011

Hungary: Hungarian-Roma Tensions Result in Clash in Gyöngyöspata

Last night four people were injured in a clash between ethnic Hungarian members of the far-right group Véderő and members of the Roma community in Gyöngyöspata. Tensions have been escalating in this northern Hungarian village since March. By last Friday, Véderő's show-off military training tipped the scales of the conflict against making peace between the local Roma and Hungarian communities.

Contradictory accounts have been published in the Hungarian media about how exactly the fight started - and neither of the communities has taken responsibility for the clash.

A roma girl cries after arriving back home following her evacuation from the hungarian village of gyongyospata. image by david ferenczy, copyright demotix (24/04/2011).

A Roma girl cries after arriving back home following her evacuation from the Hungarian village of Gyongyospata. Image by David Ferenczy, copyright Demotix (24/04/2011).

Gyöngyöspata Solidarity blog shared a translation of the news report [hu]. János Ladó of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation told the Hungarians had been provoking the Roma community all day and this topped with the clash:

[…] 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. […]

Gábor Vona, the leader of the far-right Jobbik party in the Hungarian Parliament, criticized the way in which the Minister of the Interior, Sándor Pintér, responded to the situation in northern Hungary, calling for the minister's resignation because he hadn't been able to protect the Hungarian citizens from the Roma who “keep the whole village, mostly the elderly, in constant terror.”

Egyenlítő blog reported that Mr. Vona also invited PM Viktor Orbán for a dialogue about the Hungarian-Roma relations. The blogger drew quite a radical conclusion in his post [hu]:

[…] The problem is just that along with verbal slaps there are more and more real conflicts [happening]. In the meantime, the government makes some constitution, some media law, [and] educates Europe. […] Nicely [getting] back to the [1930s]. And, sadly, every sign says the [1940s] will be following them again.

Or there's another opportunity: in two weeks from now, the security of our country could highly increase if Mr. Orbán and Mr. Pintér resigned.


Eskalation der Gewalt - Offene Kämpfe zwischen Roma und Neonazis in Ungarn | - 2011-04-27

Die Situation in Gyöngyöspata eskaliert. Am Dienstagabend gegen 21 Uhr wurde von Schlägereien zwischen lokalen Anwohnern der Roma und Mitgliedern bzw. Sympathisanten jener rechten Gruppen berichtet, die den Ort seit Anfang März belagern und am Osterwochende dort ein Wehrsportlager abhalten wollten. Es gibt mehrere Schwerverletzte.


UPDATE, 27.04. 7:53 Uhr

Aufgrund der Aufmärsche der rechtsextremistischen “Bürgerwehren” in Gyöngyöspata wurden am Osterwochenende fast 300 Roma vom Roten Kreuz “evakuiert”, laut Regierung zu einem "Osterausflug". Der Innenminister ließ sich blicken, die Regierung erließ ein Dekret gegen illegale Bürgerwehraktionen, die Organisatoren wurden kurzzeitg verhaftet. Doch die Realität am Dienstag zeigt, dass die Lage in keinster Weise beruhigt ist.


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April 24 2011

Hungary: For Gyöngyöspata's Roma, Evacuation - or an Easter Excursion?

A village without a mayor

Northern Hungary has recently become the center of rising conflicts between the Roma and the Hungarian communities. In Gyöngyöspata, for example, paramilitary organizations were marching a month ago, claiming they were members of a neighborhood watch, even though their far-right stance was obvious.

On April 19, this video (HUN) was posted by a Roma news site So Si? (HUN), covering the rumors spreading in the Roma community of Gyöngyöspata about a paramilitary organization's plans to hold a training camp in the village. On the same day came the news of the resignation of the local mayor.

Piroslap blog, referring to a news agency, wrote (HUN) that the mayor had explained his decision to resign by health reasons. About the training camp, Piroslap wrote this:

[…] Now the group Véderő wants to hold a military camp at the settlement. On their website they define themselves as [a group] operating far from politics but on the national side, and after the elimination of conscription they would like to offer martial type of training to those who like this kind of education but wouldn't want to be professional soldiers. […]

The Roma have left

By Friday, April 22, some 300 Roma have left Gyöngyöspata, allegedly because they were afraid of the vigilante group arriving at the village for training. According to news reports, the departure of the Roma women and children was organized by the Hungarian Red Cross and Richard Field, an American businessman who had already expressed his concerns about the situation of the Roma in Hungary and even started an NGO to support them.

The Hungarian media used the word ‘evacuation' for what happened, whereas government officials claimed this wasn't an evacuation: according to them, the Roma had been taken on an Easter holiday trip for the weekend. Péter Szijjártó, the spokesman for the Prime Minister, and the Minister of the Interior Sándor Pintér offered this explanation for what had happened.

This video (HUN) shows the Minister of the Interior at a press conference held in Gyöngyöspata on Friday. He said:

They [the members of the paramilitary group] took away the happiness which was offered by the charitable organization Red Cross. The national board of the Red Cross invited the women and children from the Gyöngyöspata families for an Easter excursion.

Gellért Rajcsányi of Mandiner wrote (HUN):

[…] Because of the threats, the Roma are afraid of atrocities. A leader for the action said the [Roma] men all stayed in the village trying to protect their valuables left at home. They are expecting members of the Parliament, representatives of embassies and international human right activists to arrive by Friday afternoon. According to János Farkas, the deputy of the Roma Hungarian Civil Rights Movement, the Red Cross contributed in moving out the people who were accommodated in different camps. A representative of the Red Cross told dpa [a German press agency] that this was the first time since World War II when the organization evacuated citizens threatened by a paramilitary group in Hungary. […]

Also on Friday, the Minister of the Interior announced that the government had designed a “decree to penalise civil guard activities conducted without prior approval by the police or feigning a right to act as a keeper of public order.”

By Friday afternoon, the police dismissed the paramilitary training of Véderő. According to news reports, the leader of the group Tamás Eszes was detained. Far-right news site re-published (HUN) these reports, adding an important piece of information: Tamás Eszes is a man who was disqualified from the Hungarian Guard. (Other sources wrote that Mr. Eszes would run for the mayor position now that Gyöngyöspata has no mayor.)

Gellért Rajcsányi wrote that the biggest responsibility is that of the government:

[…] We've been keeping the state for millennia to maintain the outside and inside security. The improvident promise (HUN) of making order in two weeks in those points of the country that looked hopeless was unavailing. We know it's impossible to meet close-to-perfect public security even in two-years time but at least there would be signs if we were heading that way! But today, on Good Friday, we have reached another touch bottom. Hungarian citizens fearing for their property and going about in bodily fear are longing for the presence of paramilitary organizations; [meanwhile] other citizens fearing for their property and going about in bodily fear are expecting the solution from leaders of civil rights movements and the Red Cross. The devil is raised in Gyöngyspata. In the international news [broadcasts] there will, hopefully, be good footage with crying children and vigilantes wearing uniforms among the news about Libya and Cote d'Ivoire. […]

Political action?

Photographer Levente Hernádi expressed his doubts (HUN) over whether there was no interest in motivating the events. He pointed out that the result of the events have been articles like this one on a Hungarian news site (HUN), illustrated with photos about the Roma leaving the village, members of Véderő, the Roma who stayed in the village and a Roma child. The article is a full report about the Roma who left Gyöngyöspata for the weekend and who applied for refugee status in the United States and Canada because of their threatened situation:

[… ] I think Gyöngyöspata was an extremely well-prepared play taking advantage of the always crying and ambiguously speaking Roma and of the national front that always acts nationalistic. It just had to be started and the rest went by itself.

Maximum respect to the one who [does stories] like this one […].

By Sunday, the Roma women and children were back in the village.

April 22 2011


Gyöngyöspata Solidarity | blog


From the 6th of March, the Hungarian Civil Guard (successor to the infamous Hungarian Guard) have been actively intimidating and exercising unlawful control over the local Roma community in Gyöngyöspata, a village of 2500 people about 75km northeast of Budapest.

Although they have since left Gyöngyöspata, the Civil Guard (in collaboration witn Jobbik) is already planning to occupy more Roma communities in other towns and villages in Hungary, as evidenced by Gabor Vona’s statements reported here. We are keeping close track of the situation.

This blog aims to provide regular English updates to the international community. Besides posting first-hand updates, we are also compiling relevant pieces of news from various sources. In particular, articles from across the spectrum of the Hungarian media are being translated and posted here. Hopefully they will give you a fuller picture of how the Gyöngyöspata situation in the past 3 weeks has been reported and percieved in Hungary. We do not necessarily agree with everything posted here, but rather aim to ensure that non-Hungarian speakers have access to a variety of information.

Please visit the How to Help page for more information on getting involved.


Ungarn: Regierung dementiert "Evakuierung" von Roma | - 2011-04-22

Die ungarische Regierung und das Rote Kreuz haben heute eine „Evakuierung“ der Roma-Frauen und -Kinder aus dem nordungarischen Ort Gyöngyöspata dementiert. Es handle sich um einen „Osterurlaub“, nicht um eine „aus plötzlicher Notwendigkeit vollzogene Aussiedlung“, sagte der Sprecher von Premier Viktor Orban, Peter Szijjarto, laut der Nachrichtenagentur MTI. Auch Erik Selymes, der Direktor des ungarischen Roten Kreuzes, erklärte, das Ferienlager sei bereits zuvor geplant gewesen.

Im Gegensatz dazu betonte der Chef der Roma-Gemeinde, Janos Farkas, gegenüber der Nachrichtenagentur AFP, dass die 277 Frauen und Kinder das rund 81 Kilometer nordöstlich von Budapest gelegene Dorf sehr wohl wegen eines „Ausbildungslagers“ der rechtsradikalen Vedero-Miliz verlassen hätten. Diese will in Gyöngyöspata am Wochenende ein Trainingslager für „militärische Grundkenntnisse“ abhalten.

Nach Angaben des Roten Kreuzes wurden 172 Betroffene in das Ferienlager Csilleberc am Stadtrand von Budapest gebracht. Rund 100 weitere wurden in das ostungarische Szolnok gefahren.

Vedero, Hungary Far Right Group, Causes Roma Mass Evacuation With 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.

Read More..
Reposted fromsigalonhuffpost sigalonhuffpost

March 17 2011

Roma neighborhood under control of uniformed vigilantes in Hungary
Budapest, 16 March 2011
R. I. S.


Nearly 2,500 persons marched in black military-like clothing on 6th March 2011 in Gyöngyöspata, after the rally supported by the Jobbik party, through the village’s Roma neighborhood, chanting slogans about the restoration of public safety. The police arrived on the scene on the day of the demonstration but did not interfere in any way, regardless of the “abuse caused to the rights of the local Roma residents, which could have been a ground for the authorities to break up the protest”, as mentioned in the letter written by the members of Gyöngyöspata’s Roma community to the Hungarian Minister of Home Affairs.

After the end of the protest the activists wearing the black uniforms of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future, the “Defense Guard” or the “gendarmerie” did not leave Gyöngyöspata. They are there to this day and still terrorize the local Roma population. They stand in lines and surround the neighborhood. Because of their threatening appearance, the Roma do not dare leave their houses or send their children to school. Their stated goals and behavior clearly questions the state monopoly on the legitimate use of force. The village has a local police chief who had earlier initiated investigations into some thefts and closed some cases. However, many local residents considered it necessary to strengthen public safety by calling on the civil guards to protect their village. While the police doubled their presence on the scene two days after the protest, the members of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future and its sympathizers are still forming a human chain around the houses of Roma residents and say they are there to stay. The police, while present in large numbers, still do not interfere in any way, regardless of the fact that there is reasonable suspicion that offenses such as harassment and bodily injury are occurring on a day to day basis against many of the village’s Roma residents. Some of the protesters have vowed to stay on and guard the village until the local Roma self-government does not sign a declaration stating that the Roma will stop committing crimes. Attila Laszlo, the leader of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future said that he had heard about the municipality requesting that the Civil Guard should leave but that this was later retracted by the mayor. The mayor’s office confirmed his statement. According to their initial plans, they intend to stay until they train and organize a local branch of the organization made up of local residents.

Reposted bykrekk krekk
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