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Hungary: Ultra-right experiment in Ozd uses systematic oppression to drive Roma out

29.7.2015 3:49
A member of the Hungarian Guard, the paramilitary wing of the nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary founded on 25 August 2007 and formally dissolved by the Budapest Tribunal on 2 July 2009. (Illustrative photo:  Romea.cz archive).
A member of the Hungarian Guard, the paramilitary wing of the nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary founded on 25 August 2007 and formally dissolved by the Budapest Tribunal on 2 July 2009. (Illustrative photo: Romea.cz archive).

The Associated Press reports that the Hungarian town of Ozd has become a kind of living "laboratory" where the ultra-right Jobbik party is testing the impact of its political decisions at local level. That at least is the warning of Peter Kreko, director of the Political Capital Institute organization, which has long monitored Jobbik's activities.

One example of this "political experiment" is the introduction of very harsh conditions for those performing community service work. David Janiczak, the mayor of this town of 34 000, about one-third of whose residents are Romani, makes no secret of the fact that he perceives systematic oppression as a legitimate path to pushing inconvenient Roma out of town.

The people performing this work are primarily doing so on the town's own farms, and the 28-year-old mayor has introduced longer work hours, a minimum of breaks and CCTV cameras that follow the workers' every move. The vast majority of the 1 300 staffers employed through the program are Roma.  

The Associated Press reports that employees of the project all agree that ever since Janiczak became mayor, their work conditions have drastically deteriorated. "We can't risk sitting down for even five minutes. Not even if we have a nosebleed - we can't stop. We are always working," Czech news server Čt24.cz quoted Bela Biro, a worker in the program, as saying.  

The mayor is also using Twitter to publicly comment on the methods through which he and the radical right-wing party Jobbik are doing their best to drive inconvenient Romani residents out of Ozd, according to Čt24.cz. Janiczak has said he believes there are only two ways to get that result - either violent expulsions or systematic oppression.    

His "work project", combined with a discriminatory housing policy, represents the second option, for the time being. Jobbik is now in the leadership of about a dozen towns in Hungary and holds 12 % of the seats in the national Parliament.  

The party is most popular with young voters. In the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2018, Jobbik could be a serious competitor to the Fidesz party. 

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Diskriminace, Extremism, Hungary, Jobbik



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