(indymediacalling) On April 2, two different groups of people went to a small village Hejőszalonta (near Miskolc, ca. 160 km east from Budapest). The first one went there to make a “Demonstration against Gypsy Terror”. This group of people mostly dressed in black Hungarian Guard uniform consisted from right-wing representatives of Hungarian society including far right Jobbik party representatives. A lot of local people from Hejőszalonta joined them. The second group consisted of Roma rights activists, anti-racists and other civilians, a big part of whom were foreigners, who are willing to stand up against neo-nazi terror spreading out in the country. There were also the representatives of Amnesty International and TASZ.
The right-wing group registered a commemoration walk with candles in order to commemorate the recently murdered woman who was a victim of a Gypsy crime according to Jobbik. This woman was murdered on March 6 by her tenant who was living at her place for about a week. The murderer turned out to be a Gypsy. He is said to be caught by the police already. So, this murder was a good opportunity for the far right to burn another village with hatred towards Roma people, so they decided to make a demonstration in Hejőszalonta. Anti-racist civilians and Roma rights activists from Budapest decided to prevent the far right from marching and harrasing the local Roma community and to protect the latter, so they also decided to make a peaceful people’s chain in Hejőszalonta. As Jobbik registered their march earlier, it was impossible to register a counter demo, a people’s chain in the same place, so at the end the situation turned out to be as follows: the anti-racist civilians together with the local Roma people had an opportunity to make a peaceful demo in a different place divided from the far right demo buy the police cordon.
Around 100 anti-racist activists went to Hejőszalonta from Budapest. We arrived there shortly after 5. At the entrance of the village the police was checking everyone’s IDs and asking to which demo people were going in order to direct cars of the far right and anti-racists to different directions in order to provide security. So, the whole village (at the entrance you can see the board telling that this is a EUROPEAN VILLAGE – how pathetic – a far-right march in an EUROPEAN village in 2011, are we coming back to WW II times?) was flooded by the police. As we arrived to the place where the anti-racist demo was registered, it was pretty overcrowded by the activists, media and some local Roma people. All together there were around 200 persons there.
It turned out that the people’s chain is impossible to form in order to prevent the far right from marching, so the people were just standing there, having some speeches and listening to the music. The activists were talking to the locals, sharing some food they brought, making transparencies and just walking around the limited space. Among the speakers there were some Romani activists who made inspiring speeches about situation with far right in Hungary, racism and Roma.
The mayor of the village Joseph Anderkó held a neutral speech that condemned the crime in general, and he also stated that Gypsies and non-Gypsy inhabitants of the village are at peace. Unfortunately, this is not true any more. Later on we talked to some local Gypsy families, and they told that before there were no major problems among Gypsy and non-Gypsy population, but the far-right demo “against Gypsy crime” put the start to the greater division, as a lot of locals joined it. A Roma woman told that her best friend (non-Roma friend) is taking part in the far-right march on the other side of the fence.
Around 8 the far-right march approached the peaceful anti-racist demo. To understand the situation better, it is important to know that the far-right people with torches and Jobbik and Arpad flags were marching in the streets of Hejőszalonta from ca. 5 until 9-30 with the culmination at the house of the murdered woman. Their route was perpendicular to the street where the anti-racist demo took place. So, we could see the far-right chain of people coming from the right. As they approached the place where the anti-racist demo was, they started shouting some anti-Roma slogans, and the demonstrators on the other side were shouting “Nazi go Home” (as it was also written on one of the banners).
Among the far-right marchers we could see a lot of representatives of the Hungarian guard, as well as local people including old ladies and small kids. As the anti-Roma chain went away, people were still staying for a while until 9-30, and then the activists went home to Budapest, and the local Roma went to their homes.
There was no violence, everything went pretty peaceful, but at the same time this evening revealed who is who in the village, as it was the first event of this kind there. Now it is up to the local community to deal with the co-existence of Roma and non-Roma people in the village.