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22 Apr, 2009 05:30

Hungarian Neo-Nazi lead war on gypsies

In Hungary, fascist groups are targeting Roma gypsies, but the government seems to turn a blind eye on the problem of ethnic minorities, and offers no protection for them.

A cold and brutal crime has torn a young family apart. Robert and his five-year-old son were shot dead, and his two other children seriously injured when their home was attacked. A homemade bomb was thrown through the front door and immediately sent the entire house up in flames. The young family had just finished building their small but modern house.

Their only crime was being Roma gypsies.

Robert’s family lives next door, and are reminded daily of the terror of the tragedy, but what haunts them more is the way the criminal investigation is being carried out.

“They pretended not to see 18 bullet holes in the small boy’s body. How is it possible that an experienced police official could not see this? Then it was reported that the fire was electrical. But there are remnants of a bomb everywhere,” says Robert’s mother Erzsebet Csorba.

The European Roma rights centre strongly supports the family’s claims.

“The police were not acknowledging that a murder had taken place. I’m not aware that there has been any progress,” said Rob Kushen from the European Roma Rights Centre in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

Fighting for their rights, activists also fear that the economic crisis will lead to an increase in hate crimes against Roma in poorer EU countries.

“So far they have done a good job in keeping the peace – which is a recipe for disaster,”
Kushen believes.

Attacks on Roma haven’t only increased since the onset of the crisis, but a neo-Nazi trend is also growing in Hungary. The far-right Jobbik party, said to be affiliated with a banned fascist group called the Magyar Guarda, is growing in popularity. They often hold protests against Roma, insisting they are criminals.

Bela Kovacs, President of the Jobbik Party for a Better Hungary is unequivocal in his views:

“Gypsy crimes are growing every day, and it's getting so bad that people are afraid to go out at night,” he said.

But the party refused to comment on its connection with the extremist group which often attends their protests.

Robert’s family believes the Magyar Guarda brutally attacked their loved ones, and will never be punished, especially under the wing of a growing political party.

In the past year alone in Hungary, there have been 18 attacks on Roma homes, and six people have been killed. No one has been caught.