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In Gyöngyöspata, a small village of 2,800 inhabitants in Hungary North-East of Budapest, the Roma community was literally mobbed by a paramilitary organization which entered the village at the beginning of March.
Hungarians residents reported a situation of strong tension due to the high number of crimes committed by members of the local Roma community, seeking aid to get out from the difficult state of constant fear and terror in which they live daily.
This call of help was welcomed by the new version of the Hungarian Civil Guard, which had been banned in the past, but was unofficially reassembled to bring law and order to the village and solve the “Gypsies problem”.
The Neighbourhood Watch Association “For a Better Future”, a paramilitary organization inspired by a Nazi movement after which they named their group, entered the village marching in black uniforms, armed with chains and whips, and started a campaign of systematic intimidation with foot and car patrols against the Roma community, that counts about 450 members.
Roma journalists from the village reported on the Roma news site “So Si?” (www.sosinet.hu) : “We went to Gyöngyöspata on Thursday, March 10, and found we had to cross two checkpoints reminiscent of war movies to enter the Roma neighborhood. During our interviews, the local Roma residents told us about psychological terror and humiliation they were suffering, the constant fear they felt. It is not safe for them to leave their homes, even to go to work.” In their declaration, the local Roma drew attention to the fact that the members of the Hungarian Guard, hiding behind the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future and “gendarme” uniforms and openly supported by the Jobbik party, have kept the Roma residents of the village in a state of constant fear for the past two weeks. The situation has come to a point where the Roma are terrified to leave their houses, stopped sending their children to school and do not even feel secure inside their own homes”.
Jobbik, the extreme-right party – which got the 17% of votes at the last elections – stands behind the intervention of this paramilitary organization, underlines that the Gyöngyöspata’s issue is not just local, but it’s a national issue, and aspires to expand the action over the country.
The leader of Jobbik party, Gabor Vona said: “Gyöngyöspata provides an example for future situations”.
“The police do not have enough power to handle the situation. The Roma have stolen vegetables and grapevines,” said Gabor Kovacs, a vigilante volunteer in full black uniform born in Gyöngyöspata.
The police in fact didn’t intervene to prevent and not even to stop the actions of the neo-Nazi group.
“I cried when I saw them marching. I can’t see how this could happen in a democratic country? The police are now present, but why did they let it go on for three weeks?” said Janos Farkas, the spokesman for the village’s Roma community.
Gyöngyöspata residents expressed their gratitude for the aid they recived to face the difficult cohabitation with the Roma. They thanked the Civil Guard for their intervention.
“I feel better with For A Better Future patrolling here than with the police”, said a villager. She told that Roma scaled her fence and stole two hens, one this year, one last. She added: “I can’t let my hands rest in my lap for a second while Roma might come along and burn my house down. The best solution would be to take them away”.
The government didn’t take any concrete action in regards to these events
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) took a legal position on the situation in the village: “The frightening act of the people arrogating the role of maintaining public order is not protected by freedom of assembly. With their threatening appearance, they questioned the absoluteness of state force-monopoly. The inactivity of the police caused legal uncertainty”.
The paramilitary group left the village, now other villages could be the next targets for their mission.
The “Gypsies problem” is a serious issue in Eastern Europe countries as Hungary since the first Roma migration from India approximately six hundred years ago. Nowadays its resolution doesn’t seem to be near yet.