HCLU urges immediate measures with regards to the situation in Gyöngyöspata

On the evening of April 26th, 2011, a fight broke out in Gyöngyöspata between some members of the extremist groups present in the village and some local Roma. It is the HCLU’s position that the Hungarian government, the administration of the Ministry of Interior and the police share responsibility for things getting so out of hand.

Extremist groups have been terrorizing the Roma residents of the village since the beginning of March. The police allowed the uniformed extremists, who claimed to be militiamen, to threaten the Roma for days. The police have not taken action against the perpetrators of the – in some cases serious – ethnically motivated crimes (e.g. violence against a member of the community) and no measures were taken following the Roma’s complaints and reports.
Despite the state’s internationally binding obligation, criminal authorities in Hungary have no protocol to investigate hate crimes, they don’t provide their representatives with special training to that effect and in lack of professional expertise, they keep under-qualifying racially motivated crimes. Extremists appear in Gyöngyöspata and other settlements from time to time, threatening the Roma residents. There is a significant difference between a conflict involving local inhabitants compared with extremist groups traveling to these settlements with the intent of threatening the local Roma living in segregation. This in itself constitutes racist motivation.
The police approach the illegal activities of the Hungarian Guard’s successor organizations and other extremist groups from the viewpoint of their uniforms and not their activities: since the uniforms differ from that of the Guard, the police claim no misdemeanor has been committed, while the perpetrators of severe crimes are freely roaming the streets of these settlements.
 
On April 22nd, Sándor Pintér and a force of several hundred policemen stopped the advertised boot-camp of Véderő (Garrison) from taking place, but their theatrical action served the sole purpose of the government being able to claim  maintaining order in Gyöngyöspata.
 
The Garrison members arrested on presumably erroneously interpreted legal charges were set free by the court on Monday. After this, it would have been the duty of the police to secure the settlement with a large force in a preemptive effort to prevent crimes and secure the inhabitants’ Constitutional right to personal safety.
 
Neither between March 1st and 16th, when the “Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület” (Association of Militiamen for a Better Future) were patrolling in Gyöngyöspata, nor since April 16th when members of “Véderő” (Garrison) wouldn’t leave the local  Roma in peace, have the police taken any effective measures apart from the above mentioned arrest to protect the Roma residents.
 
It is unacceptable that the presence of the Police of the Republic of Hungary was so insignificant that they couldn’t stop these events on the Roma row from happening. Had the police secured the territories threatened by the racist attacks with the effectiveness to be expected of them, this clash leading to serious casualties would not have happened.
 
The HCLU urges the Hungarian government, the Ministry of  Interior and the police to take immediate measures with regards to the severe situation that has evolved in Gyöngyöspata and to stop the illegal activities of the extremist groups.

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