Paramilitary camp dispersed after Roma evacuation

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Címkék:  Gyongyospata
 22th of April 2011   Source: mti

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A paramilitary camp was dispersed in the north Hungarian village of Gyongyospata on Friday afternoon after hundreds of Roma women and children had been evacuated in fear of attack by the campers.


The organiser of the camp and seven of his aides were detained on charges of rowdyism, Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said at the site.


"The suspects generated fear among locals," he said.


On Friday morning the Hungarian Red Cross evacuated 276 Roma women and children to temporary shelters in Budapest and Szolnok in central Hungary.


Male members of the community have decided to stay and protect their properties, local civil activist Tamas Bango said.


Nearly 400 police arrived in the village to cordon off the campsite belonging to radical paramilitary group Vedero (meaning "defence force") earlier in the day.


Bango said it was the Roma who decided to send the women and children away from the village.


Red Cross volunteer and Hungarian-US businessman Richard Field, who carried aid to the village and oversaw the evacuation, said "the Roma are afraid and they have reason to be", noting that there had been a paramilitary march in the village last weekend and a Roma child had been beaten.


Field added that "once the exercise is over, the Roma will return to their homes." He described the evacuation as "professionally organised".


Aladar Horvath, head of the Roma Civil Rights Movement, said "if Hungary is unwilling to defend Roma people, we would ask the UN Security Council to discuss if there is a real danger of a far-right coup in Hungary and if the Roma would have to count with further racial and social discrimination."


Zoltan Balog, state secretary for social inclusion and Roma affairs, qualified reports about the local Roma needing to flee Gyongyospata out of emergency as irresponsible.


Balog asserted that nobody had faced any maltreatment in Gyongyospata over the past weeks.  


There is a conflict situation in Gyongyospata, he said, adding that police were there to handle it in the short term. But he said it was the government's task "to ensure jobs and conditions of education and peaceful co-existence" in the long run.


Peter Szijjarto, the prime minister's spokesman, announced a new government decree designed to penalise civil guard activities conducted without preliminary police approval or feigning a right to act as a keeper of public order. Violators may face a fine of up to 100,000 forints (EUR 370).


He added that police had deployed a skilled force in sufficient strength in the village.


"If some are still unable to understand that law and order should prevail in Hungary, the government will pass even stricter decrees," he said.


Minority ombudsman Erno Kallai welcomed the government decree. "The government finally seems to be paying attention to the minorities," he said and called for halting all organisations that generate fear and attempt to take over the duty of maintaining law and order from police.


All the three opposition parties reacted vehemently to the conflict. The Socialists called on the Fidesz-Christian Democratic government to step down. Spokesman Zsolt Torok told reporters that the "government is unable to govern, both its economic and social policies have failed".


The green Politics Can Be Different (LMP) urged Vedero to "pack and leave" the camp.


The radical nationalist Jobbik party dissociated itself from Vedero.


Jobbik leader Gabor Vona challenged Prime Minister Viktor Orban by inviting him to a public TV debate on the co-existence of ethnic Hungarians and Roma.


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