Hundreds of Roma (gypsy) residents have fled a village in the north of Hungary to escape possible vigilante attacks by far-right nationalist vigilantes on Easter weekend. Reportedly, some were moved to a camp in Budapest and others were transferred to an unnamed location in eastern Hungary.
Reuters reported that a vigilante group named Vedero [Defense Force] established a training camp near the village of Gyongyospata (about 55 miles east of Budapest) to conduct exercise, but rejected notions they were there to harass local Roma.
United, we will be strong and we can protect the nation from internal and external enemies alike, the Defense Force said on its website.
Last month, about 2000 men in Defense Force uniforms marched through a poor Roma neighborhood in the village,
Aladar Horvath, head of the Roma Civil Rights Movement, accused the Hungarian government of failing to protect Roma families.
We had called on the Red Cross to help evacuate these people, he told Reuters.
They are scared, and they want to be safe for the Easter holiday. Holding war games by Defense Force during the Easter holiday goes beyond anyone's imagination. The government is standing by, meanwhile, doing nothing. Police were ordered to Gyongyospata with a huge delay.
Vigilante groups like Defense Force have the support of the far-right Jobbik party, which won 46 seats (greater than 10 percent) in Hungary’s parliament in elections last year.
Conflict between Roma (who have been in Eastern Europe for centuries and are believed to have originated in northern India) and the rest of the Hungarian population fluctuates, though recently there has apparently been an upsurge of violence against Roma.
Roma currently account for about 10 percent of Hungary’s population, making them the largest minority. Far-right political groups have repeatedly condemned Roma for their inability (or unwillingness) to integrate and for what are perceived to their criminal behavior.
Zoltán Balog, Hungary’s State Secretary for Roma Inclusion, estimates that 85 percent of adult Roma men in Hungary are unemployed. That figure has skyrocketed from only 15 percent in the 1980s, due to the collapse of the labor market in the 1990s.
Thus a whole generation of Roma have grown up without knowing any work.