Romani victims of recent murders in Hungary commemorated in Canada and Europe
It has been three years since a tragic event took place in the small northern Hungarian village of Tatárszentgyörgy, where a gang of assassins murdered a five-year-old boy and his father. The incident was part of a series of anti-Romani murders that took place throughout the country from 2008 - 2009.
The six victims of that murder spree were remembered yesterday in Canada and various cities across Europe. Civic associations working on issues of racism and Romani integration chose 23 February as the day of remembrance. That was the day that the most tragic of the murders, involving the five-year-old, took place.
In the center of Budapest's Romani quarter, candles were lit, music was played, and Romani artists recited their poetry. Commemorations also took place in Tatárszentgyörgy and other small towns in Hungary, as well as in Berlin, Paris, Toronto and Vienna. The organizers wanted to draw attention to the fact that the worst response to these matters is indifference, and that the majority society in Hungary was indifferent while the two-year-long murder spree went on. They say that posture of indifference has to change and that people must be woken up to the idea that Romani people belong to society too.
After the sixth murder was committed, police arrested four young men from northeastern Hungary who were said to have committed the murders for sport. They included a former member of the international KFOR forces in Kosovo. The suspects are said to have haphazardly sought out Romani neighborhoods or villages, where they usually would attack Romani homes with Molotov cocktails in the early morning hours. When the startled residents fled their homes, the suspects are said to have begun shooting them like animals.
The trial of the four suspects began a year ago. The court has said it would like to close the case during this year.
Coincidentally, a Hungarian film about this series of anti-Romani murders won this year's Silver Lion prize at the Berlin Film Festival. The film's young director, Benedek Fliegauf, is said to have truly captured the atmosphere of fear in which Romani people are now living, and not only in Hungary.