Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hungary not doing enough to protect Roma from neo-Nazis

In its 2012 annual report, Amnesty International noted that discrimination against the Roma remained "entrenched in many areas of life" in Hungary. According to the human rights group, Roma suffered intimidation from vigilante groups between March and April and the police did little to protect them. [SourceHungarian nationalists with links to the far-right Jobbik party continue to intimdate and terrorize the Roma with impunity.

The Roma have a long history of discrimination and repression in Europe. Methods of repression suffered in the past by members of the ethnic minority group included enforced assimilation, enslavement, internment, expulsion and mass killings. A few thousand of them survived the Holocaust and Hitler's concentration camps. [Source]

It's a shame that their persecution has taken other forms in modern-day Europe and has continued for the most part unabated. They are segregated, discriminated and stigmatized in European societies that pride themselves as free and democratic.

In a book titled "Human Rights in Europe: no grounds for complacency" (pg. 57), Thomas Hammarberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights stated: "In many European countries the Roma population is still denied basic human rights and made victims of flagrant racism. They remain far behind others in terms of educational attainment, employment, housing and health standards and they have virtually no political representation. Their exclusion from society feeds isolationism which in turn encourages prejudice against the Roma among xenophobes."

It doesn't take an expert in human rights to agree with Thomas Hammarberg. The plight of the Roma in Europe is there for everyone to see. They are treated with disdain and discriminated against and it is no secret that governments in the region have not done enough to restore and uphold their dwindling rights.

In Hungary, the Roma population is having a tough time in the hands of racist, far-right nationalists. According to news reports, Hungarian nationalists incite anti-Roma sentiments with impunity. Hungary's authorities are reportedly not enforcing legislation outlawing incitement of hatred and the Roma bear the brunt of this anarchy. Neo-Nazi thugs with links to the extreme right-wing Jobbik political party attack and terrorize Roma people without fear of retribution. On 5 August 2012, about 1,000 neo-Nazis reportedly staged a "peaceful" demonstration against the Roma during which they shouted "You're going to die here!" and hurled objects at Roma houses in Devecser.

The government of Hungary has an obligation to protect the Roma from organized gangs of neo-Nazis. Such gangs fan flames of hatred against the Roma. "Anti-Gypsyism" promulgated by far-right extremists will not solve any problems in Hungarian society, including what has been termed "gypsy crime" in the stronghold of the radical Jobbik party. It can only worsen relations between the Roma minority and non-Roma majority.

The Roma are in desperate need of adequate housing, education and jobs. They should not be further victimized and terrorized by intolerant [criminal] gangs after many years of failed and discriminatory government policies that have relegated them to the fringes of society in Hungary and beyond.

Anti-Roma activities or demonstrations designed to incite hatred against the Roma and alienate them should be condemned in the strongest terms and members of vigilante, neo-Nazi groups that spread hatred against Roma and other minority groups during peaceful hateful demonstrations should be brought to book.

The following video sheds more light on the plight of the Roma in Europe.

*Photo of Roma women and children. Source: truthdive.

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