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Hungarian Police arrest leader of Roma Guard

Pécs, Hungary, 10.9.2012 23:47, (ROMEA)

The Roma Guard (Roma gárda) established by Romani people in the southern Hungarian town of Pécs has found no understanding either from local Romani representatives or from the authorities. News server politics.hu reports today that the commander of the guard has been arrested by police.

Ferenc Bagó, otherwise known as "Colonel Daflics", positioned himself as the leader of the Roma Guard. Media reports now indicate that a police anti-terrorist unit arrested him last Thursday. Police claim he has broken the law by establishing the group.

In an interview published by the newspaper Dunántúli Napló, Mr Bagó said the task of the defensive organization was to protect Jewish people, Romani people, and all minorities living in fear. Hungarian Police often address conflicts between Romani people and members of the militant Hungarian Guard, which was banned by the courts in 2009. Members of that group are closely linked to the ultra-right "Movement for a Better Hungary" (Jobbik) party, which sits in parliament, and have continued to convene marches through Romani neighborhoods together with the party despite the ban.

The "Unification of the Romani People of Pécs" group is behind the Roma Guard and is seeking patrons and sponsors online. According to Bagó, 1 000 Romani people have already joined the initiative.

Be that as it may, other Romani representatives disagree with this new form of defense. István Hegedűs, who represents Romani interests in his local community, has distanced himself from the Roma Guard and from those supporting the group. Hegedűs claims such groups have no place in public life.

Not only is the Roma Guard itself controversial, but its commander is as well. Bagó has previously had problems with the law. According to the Hír TV station, he was a member of the Foreign Legion and has served a prison sentence for attempted murder. The media have also reported that he has called on Romani people in Hungary to demonstrate "open resistance."

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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