UN racism rapporteur visits troubled N Hungary village

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 24th of May 2011   Source: mti

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism Githu Muigai on Tuesday visited the northern Hungarian village of Gyongyospata and met local leaders, representatives of the Roma community and the police chief of Gyongyos, as well as civil-guard organisers.


Muigai said the reason he had chosen to visit Gyongyospata was to get a better understanding or recent events and see how locals are handling the situation. The village has been the scene of clashes between radical nationalists and the Roma community.


After holding meetings with Roma and non-Roma leaders, as well as the local police chief, Muigai said he was not in a position to give an assessment of the situation or present recommendations, but it was important to hear the different positions.


He said he was visiting Hungary not only to explore Roma affairs but also to learn about anti-discrimination activities and the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups.


Muigai also met the deputy leader of the local radical nationalist Jobbik organisation Oszkar Juhasz, sources who did not wish to be named told MTI.


In March, activists of the For a Better Future Civil Guard Association staged patrols in Gyongyospata in protest against what they said was a rising crime rate.


The situation turned critical when the paramilitary Vedero (Defence Force) organised a three-day training camp near the village's Roma neighbourhood between April 22-24, which police eventually prevented.


At the same time, some 267 Roma women and children were bussed out of the village in a move that some described as an "evacuation" but the organiser, Red Cross Hungary, reported as a pre-arranged camping trip.


A fight broke out between members of Vedero and local Roma late on April 26, in which three were hospitalised. Police filed charges against three people on suspicion of disturbing the peace.
Miugai arrived in Hungary on Monday and will stay until Friday. On the first day, he met deputy state secretary of the foreign ministry Janos Hovari and he is scheduled to travel around Hungary in the next few days.


On Thursday and Friday, Muigai will hold consultations with ministry officials and Zoltan Balog, state secretary in charge of social inclusion at the ministry of justice.


The United Nations established the post of Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 1993. Muigai, a lawyer and Associate Professor at the University of Nairobi, has held his UN post since August 2008.


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