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Hungarian nationalists deny paramilitary guards attacked Romani people

Budapest, 16.10.2011 22:46, (ROMEA)

The MTI press agency reports that the Hungarian State Secretary for Social Inclusion, Zoltán Balog, has stated that the tensions and unrest that broke out between some members of the Romani minority and the Hungarian majority this past April in the town of Gyöngyöspata are said to have come to a head as the result of a "provocation" sparked by the opposition media with the assistance of "a certain American citizen." Balog made the announcement after a government commission to investigate the affair convened to discuss it. A strongly nationalist government now rules in Hungary and this interpretation of the events corresponds to its current ideology.

"It is clear that this past spring there was a provocation of some people in the media and a certain American citizen who believed he had good intentions and did his best to profile himself as some kind of rescuer facilitating an escape or an evacuation," the MTI cites Balog as saying. He was referring to US entrepreneur Richard Field, a volunteer with the Red Cross, who rented buses in order to evacuated about 300 Romani children and women from the village who had been subjected to tensions and violence. "It is clear the role of Richard Field was not to provide humanitarian aid, but to stir up passions, " the state secretary told the media.

Balog said the main core of the problem was rural social problems which the previous government failed to resolve. In his view, the "explosive situation" that has developed was very easy to exploit. "It is now up to the secret services to reveal the specific actors and their roles in this affair," he said.

According to all available information, the unrest was sparkled by a fascist, self-appointed militia - a paramilitary organization built on the model of the Nazi SA. In April, the "guards" convened a training camp near the village and sent out patrols "against Romani crime". Their illegal actions sparked mass brawls, which police say involved between 40 and 50 people. Romani activists then organized the departure en masse of Romani children and women from the village in the buses rented by Field, which eventually led to international and government reaction.

Balog has now stood up for these "guards" and blamed Field, a UN volunteer, and some journalists. According to the state secretary, the fascist "people´s militia", by terrorizing the village, "did not spark these events, but were just a symptom of them".

The situation of the local Romani residents has not changed and the attacks against them have essentially not eased up. The rising nationalist hysteria peaked in July with the election of a candidate from the ultra-right Jobbik party (Movement for a Better Hungary) as Mayor of Gyöngyöspata.

The Government of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, which came to power after last April´s elections and has a constitutional majority in Parliament, has taken a strongly nationalist course and is quietly implementing a "national revolution". The cabinet blames the previous liberal, center-left government of PM Ferenc Gyurcsány for the country´s problems, saying he "sold off Hungary to supranational capital".

Orbán has instituted a new Constitution which will take effect as of the New Year, as well as a new press law which many believe "muzzles" media outlets. He is overseeing cultural institutions and granting citizenship en masse to ethnic Hungarians living abroad. He is ignoring the protests and warnings of the EU and NGOs, according to whom the measures adopted are restricting democracy in the country.

ČTK, František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, fk, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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