The far right is very active and the government is silent

On March 3 I wrote about a self-appointed neo-Nazi militia that appeared in Gyöngyöspata, a village of 2,800 in the county of Heves. On that day, I certainly didn't think that the so-called "civilian guardists" would be spending three weeks in the village frightening the local Roma to death. After all, Viktor Orbán promised before he was elected that he will take care of these extremist groups. A couple of slaps on the face and they will go home, not be seen again.

The original Hungarian Guard, Jobbik's paramilitary organization, was banned at least a year ago but every month there was a new organization with a different name. They changed the uniform a bit, they changed their leaders, and they claimed that they have absolutely nothing to do with the original Hungarian Guard.

This latest group is called "For a Better Future Civilian Guard," and it is in some way connected to a splinter group of the Hungarian Guard. The guard was summoned to duty by Oszkár Juhász, who is the local chairman of Jobbik. According to the first version of the story, which turned out to be cock-eyed, an old non-Roma man committed suicide because a couple of Gypsy families wanted to move close to his house. By March 4 the story had changed considerably. Lately the number of crimes has multiplied in Gyöngyöspata where 450 Roma live. As it turned out later, this wasn't true either. The number of petty crimes wasn't any higher than earlier or than elsewhere in the county. The independent mayor of the village admitted that the local Jobbik chairman had called in the guardists, but he believed that their presence was justified due to the unsafe situation in the village.

When journalists inquired at the police headquarters of Heves County, they were told that For a Better Future Civilian Guard is a registered organization and that, although it wasn't really necessary for the leaders of the guard to inform the police of their plans to patrol the streets of Gyöngyöspata, they did. It remains unclear to me how it is possible to legally register a paramilitary organization when law enforcement is the prerogative of the police. And these guys had uniforms and brought pit bulls, axes, and whips along for good measure. The Roma population was petrified and the authorities did nothing.

By March 6 Gábor Vona decided that the events in Gyöngyöspata could be used to the benefit of his party. He decided to hold a mass demonstration in Gyöngyöspata that would not be anti-Roma but pro-Magyar. Vona reminded people that Fidesz had promised that there will be perfect law and order in the country within two weeks after the elections. And yet, he continued, the new government is unable to keep order after almost a year. The demonstration is a cry for government action. He argued that the guardists must stay because the Roma threatened the non-Roma with violence once they leave the village.

A day later MSZP reacted to the events in Gyöngyöspata. László Teleki, himself a Gypsy, wanted to know how long the government will allow the guardists to patrol the streets of the village. The government had been in no hurry to act. It allowed this situation to fester for about two weeks in spite of the constant harrassment of the Roma population. The members of the militia threatened not only the Gypsy population but even the non-Roma mayor, saying "we will cut your throat, you will all die."

The police of Heves County still did nothing. As the spokesman told the reporters of MTI, they can act only if there is an official complaint. And, although it seems rather strange to me, the police claimed that no complaint had come from Gyöngyöspata. Three more days went by and nothing happened. The Roma population was terrified. Some of them didn't dare leave their houses. They were afraid to let their children go to school.

Then came March 15 when legal advocates of minorities went to Gyöngyöspata to protest: Gypsies and non-Gypsies marched together to celebrate the national holiday. By that time there was a police escort. On the same day the Hungarian Democratic Charta called on the government to get rid of the illegally patrolling guardists. Even though the police had appeared in the village, the charge was that "they were silently assisting" the guardists.

On March 16, the local non-Roma held a town meeting where ten or twelve people rose to speak. They announced that the situation in the village had improved greatly since the arrival of the guardists and said that half of the local population had already signed a petition asking the guardists to stay.

However, it seems that the government finally decided to put an end to the situation in Gyöngyöspata and somehow they managed to convince the guardists to leave the village. Whatever method they used, the police and the guardists seemed to be on amicable terms to the very end. The spokesman of the police of Heves County reported that the leader of the guardists told the police that they are organizing a local chapter of For a Better Future Civil Guard whose members will patrol the streets of Gyöngyöspata in the future. It seems that the police didn't deem it necessary to tell them that organizing paramilitary organizations is illegal.

I put the above story together with the help of reports from MTI, which is by now under complete government control. I was therefore greatly surprised when I heard Viktor Orbán say that "it was the forceful deterrence shown by the police that prevented much greater trouble in Gyöngyöspata." According to the prime minister the police came into the village with great force and used all legal means to restore order.

Most observers have a different take on the events. For three weeks the Hungarian government didn't move a finger to put an end to the activities of an illegal paramilitary group. Although Fidesz politicians, for example George Schöpflin (MEP) only a couple of days ago, complain that the opposition blurs the distinction between Fidesz and the far right, Paul Lendvai to whom the accusation was addressed answered that the recent events in Gyöngyöspata prove that Fidesz doesn't stand up against the far right. In fact, at times it lends these extreme right groups a helping hand. The inaction of the police was outrageous and clearly the decision not to intervene has a great deal to do with Fidesz's relations with Jobbik, which seem to be quite cozy.

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jo Peattie
Guest

A shocking state of affairs. I was sad to see that this was not widely reported, to say the least, in the foreign press.

Paul
Guest

Sadly. Jo, it is not only in Hungary that few care about the Roma.
Orbán is playing with fire with his cozy relationship with the far right. He is so sure of his omipotence that he thinks he can use them now, but discard them in the future, if they become too much for Fidesz – perhaps even using this as a propaganda coup for his party.
Unfortunately for Hungary, he is fooling himself. He has helped a particularly nasty genie out of the bottle and he’ll find it impossible to put it back in again.

kormos
Guest

@Ms Peattie:
If you were so concerned about “the shocking state of affairs”, why don’t you drive to Gyöngyöspata and get a real view of events. I am sure the honest, working or studying Rome is not frightened to death. As the Ministry commented, events are closely monitored and controlled.
You are a privileged person, who is a visiting guest in Hungary. Have a good time there.
@Paul: The nasty genie is out of the bottle since long,long time. I believe it was Gyurcsany who blew new energy into the ailing genie.

Member

kormos: “it was Gyurcsany who blew new energy into the ailing genie.” You are kidding, aren’t you? How can you blame Gyurcsany? Let’s not dent to truth here. OK? The root of the Jobbik stems from the MIEP, that was founded in 1999 (while Orban was a liberal). Gyurcsany is gone for a year. He never made a pact with the Jobbik, he never had his best buddy writing articles that puts whole Hungary to shame. Gyurcsany was welcomed in the West, in countries that do not applaud the endorsement of such actions that Orban seem to be oblivious to.
” I am sure the honest, working or studying Rome is not frightened to death.” I did not know that the Romas walking around with their CV to show to the Jobbik, so they would be treated better. Did you talk to any Roma? It sounds you have a great insight.

Member

@kormos Ummm ok, they may not be working or studying. Then what? Let’s get the pit bulls and roam their streets? Or is there anything else you fail to share with us, you brave soul?
By the way why can’t the police patrol the streets? Are they understaffed or just plain lazy and incompetent? Also why do the locals need the Hungarian KKK to patrol their streets? Why don’t THEY do it? Too much work? Here, where I live, we are doing the neighborhood watch thing. I’m on duty a couple of days a year. No big deal.

kormos
Guest

Roma people does not live around me, but I see peoples with different shades, and lots of Moslims. That does not give me much insight into Roma issues of the week. However when I spend some time in Hungary, I walk a lot and see a lot.
There is no KKK in Hungary and by the way what is the different between your neighbourhood watch and the civil patrol in the Hungarian village in question. Yes, Jobbik won a lot of seets because the corruption and doings of MSZP-SZDSZ, regardless how you slice it. Should have they done a good job, this blog would not exist. There would be no need for it.

kormos
Guest

Gyurcsany had a vision, that FIDESZ and/or Orban will fail. He is right. As nothing lasts forever, eventually this Government will be replaced.
Do you all want to hold your breath?

kormos
Guest

Gentle Soul Mutt: What would you like to hear?

Jano
Guest
Kormos: It doesn’t matter what the local Roma population does. I despise racism as one of the most primitive features that can come with a human being, but I’m willing to believe that they didn’t exactly into academics. (But nobody talks of genetic reasons of course, at least not where I write this from.) But! The fact that it is not the police and through that the state which is enforcing the law and keeping order is just simply unacceptable. It’s really what someone write probably in NOL: “The Hungarian state temporarily stopped existing in Gyöngyöspata”. This is NOT what Orbán was talking about. As Eva sort of said it, we can’t wait to see those slaps that were promised. Of course, MSZP-SZDSZ and Gyurcsány didn’t ever really care about the Roma population other than sheer “liberal” populism on the verbal level. Their Roma programs were completely ineffective (assuming that at least part of them were actually meant seriously) and a lot of money was just siphoned off the system using Roma programs (see the Borovszki or the Kolompár cases). SZDSZ together with the “liberal” mainstream pundit army (who were really strong up until about 2006) created an atmosphere in… Read more »
Ron
Guest

kormos: “it was Gyurcsany who blew new energy into the ailing genie.”
Actually, it was Viktor Orban, see this article of 2006. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article648096.ece
Furthermore, in 2006 Fidesz and Jobbik had in some places joint lists during the election.
So Viktor is to blame. And MIEP was founded in 1993 by Istvan Csurka (who came from SZDSZ)

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Fact is when you ask Fidesz politicians like the minister of foreign affairs Martony abroad what is their opinion about the antisemitic journalist Zsolt Bayer, they say not to like him.
But in Hungary Fidesz politicians honor Bayer with the Madach-prize and take care of his legal bills, Esztergom paid already 25 million HUF.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Ron you are mistaken Csurka István came from MDF where he was vicepresident. His antisemitic incitation was tolerated by his party, but when he started to organise a fraction in his party he was expelled.

Ron
Guest

Karl Pfeifer: Csurka István came from MDF where he was vicepresident.
You are so right. I apologize for the mistake made.

Ron
Guest

Btw it seems a new field trip is organized in April. This time they are going to Hajdúhadház in April.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajd%C3%BAhadh%C3%A1z
http://pusztaranger.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/rechtsextreme-burgerwehr-plant-nachsten-groseinsatz-roma-kundigen-gegendemo-an/ (in German)
This field trip seems to become much more interesting as the local gypsy organization decided to participate in this event.

Johnny Boy
Guest

I too have the feeling that the police and the guardists had some kind of ‘peace treaty’.
But this was clearly beneficial to everyone as the guardists helped the police on several occasions to prevent thefts and burglaries in these past weeks. No one was hurt or intimidated, except from those who were to commit crimes. So no problem here, the government has to stand up against criminals, not against those who keep order.
And Paul Lendvai, who gracefully doesn’t live in Hungary, should finally stop lying around about things he doesn’t know. I know he makes a good living off it, but he could as well seek for respectable means to get by, as most other people do.

Kirsten
Guest

@Johnny: “So no problem here, the government has to stand up against criminals, not against those who keep order.”
Your kind of order, sure. Seems equally compelling as seeking to achieve a “szebb” jövö in black clothes of a paramilitary group.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Kristen: why don’t you travel to Gyöngyöspata and ask the locals for yourself. Why do all of you lecture Hungarians from abroad, without any knowledge of the real situation whatsoever?
“My kind of order” is the order of the vast majority of the population. About 90%, which you get after not counting the criminals and their political supporters (former members of the deceased SZDSZ).
You may ramble about black clothes as if the would do any harm, but locals and real people don’t give a flying f00k about the clothes’ colors, all they care about their remaining belongings and life because they don’t have anything else that is left for them.
And here you are, completely ignorantly, lecturing Hungarians about how they should behave. Why don’t you try it for yourself? Go live there for one week and come back to tell us what you’ve experienced. If after one week there is anything that remains of you.

Kirsten
Guest

“If after one week there is anything that remains of you.”
Johnny, I promise from now on I will convey to the world the truth about Hungarians (the 90 % majority that you represent) in presenting this sentence.

Member
Kormos: “what is the different between your neighbourhood watch and the civil patrol in the Hungarian village in question.” We have neighbourhood watch, and there is a huge difference!!!! There are couple of people walk around, they do not wear uniforms, they do not try to enact the law or to suggest that they are part of some kind of military organization. Their role is to call police if they suspect anything funny. You can find them all across in Toronto, in good and bad neighbourhood, and often the members are reired people who actually just look at the window, and they have the phone with them , and also a “calling tree”. There are large signs in these neighbourhoods, letting people know about this , so to deter any criminal activity. For all of those who are suggesting to raise the tourism to Gyongyospata. I have no desire to go there. It does not seem like a welcoming environment. I also would not want to go to Afghanistan, of visit the Fukushima power plant. I do hve an opinion about WWII but I was not even alive yet. Oh, and I think North Korea is a bad news. Should… Read more »
Member

@Johnny How does this klan patrol actually prevent crime? They walked around a few days and then gone home to their day jobs. Now what? Increased police presence and prisons (law and order) prevent crime. Say what? Hiring more police, buying more equipment for them, locals cooperating with law enforcment? Spending money and working??? Waaaiiiit a minute! Beating them to death is cheaper …
This was part of the JOBBIK election campaign for 2014.
By the way I also take my dog to the neighborhood watch. OK, it’s not pitbull. It’s a golden retriever. He could be very intimidating if the poor gipsy perp has allergies to dog saliva. He’ll lick him to death …

Pete H.
Guest
The membership of neighborhood watches in the US tends to represent the ethnic mix of the area. The members are members of the neighborhood. The members are not tied to one particular political party. They do not carry whips and patrol with attack dogs. They do not go around intimidating grade school children. Check out this video: http://hvg.hu/itthon/20110316_gyongyospata_video In this video a local woman admits that only 10 or 15 local Roma are responsible for the crimes committed by Roma. Yet, the militia is directing its campaign of intimidation at the entire population of Roma. And they are directly intimidating grade school children. They are thugs. This video from barikádTV looks like the scenes out of some dystopian movie: barikádTV is part of the propaganda arm of Jobbik. They apparently have no clue that the ominous music they play at the beginning of the clip makes the militia look sinister. Not the type of clip that the Hungarian National Tourist Office is likely to embed on their website. The suggestion by many in these clips that the Roma community as a whole are responsible for the crimes of a few Roma is nothing but a statement supporting collective guilt. Like… Read more »
GW
Guest

Neighborhood Watch groups in the USA are not vigilantes, they work in close cooperation with the police, are often organized directly by the police, but they do not have functions which conflict with the government monopoly on the application of force. They have no ranks of authority, do not wear uniforms, and do not carry weapons. Instead, they know the telephone numbers of those who do: the police.

kis fiu
Guest

Johnny Boys favorite argument is that no one who comments on this blog lives in Hungary and therefore we should have no opinion about any thing that goes on in Hungary. Of course the ‘logic’ to this argument was known to be faulty to the ancient greeks but never mind. (The premise is also wrong; I for one live here.)
Has Johnny boy ever made an actual logical argument on this blog? I cant remember a single instance. It seems that everything he writes is purely meant to discredit his political opponents. He doesnt bother to engage in discussion.

Member

I think the the closest to a logical argument was when said he liked Kenny from the South Park …

Johnny Boy
Guest
Kirsten: “”If after one week there is anything that remains of you.” Johnny, I promise from now on I will convey to the world the truth about Hungarians (the 90 % majority that you represent) in presenting this sentence.” Do that, I’m not surprised one bit if you so clearly prefer lying to everyone you can talk to, despite the fact that my sentence obviously refers to what you can expect to experience in such a roma-frequented environment. Mutt Damon: “How does this klan patrol actually prevent crime?” Look at the news reports. In 5 or so occasions, these patrols helped policemen defend themselves who even had to stir their dogs to escape harm because complete families (read: 20-30 members) surrounded and attacked them. You pretend as if you’ve never heard of how the “inhabitants” of these areas tend to act. “Beating them to death is cheaper” I guess you have no problems in projecting out your violent fantasies out and pretending as if any “beating to death” has happened. The question is, why are you telling such lies? kis fiu: “He doesnt bother to engage in discussion.” You must be indeed very “kis” and very selective, as you elaborately… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Johnny Boy the French say: “C’est le ton qui fait la chanson.” In English:
“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
But in your case it is also what you say.
Now I hope you will not be excluded, because you are such a good representative of the Hungarian polling-booth revolution.
The “keeping of order” by a mob of racists is nowhere else in the EU tolerated. And I hope no tragedy has to occur for Fidesz and its leader to understand, that tolerating this mob is very risky.

kis fiu
Guest

@Karl “I hope you will not be excluded, because you are such a good representative of the Hungarian polling-booth revolution”
I am more optimistic than you. I think it is increasingly clear that Fidesz’s support is quite soft and that a great number of people voted for Fidesz not because they are anti-semitic or reflexively equate gypsys and criminals but rather because MSZP had become toxic. Recent polls have Fidesz’s support at around 30%. This means 70% of the voting age population does not actively support the ‘revolution’.

John G
Guest

Don’t you just miss the previous anglo-saxon named representatives of the Fidesz propaganda squad ??

Kirsten
Guest

Johnny, I do not know what I did wrong again. I repeated your words that one has to be afraid of his life and belongings in Hungary and promised to keep in mind that this is the opinion of the majority of Hungarians. If you consider your own words lies, perhaps you should think twice what you write. There are still people out there who do take Hungarians seriously.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Kirsten: “Johnny, I do not know what I did wrong again”
This does not surprise me, but maybe next time choose your quotation appropriately so that it becomes clear what you are referring to.

wpDiscuz