Daily Archives: 12/04/2011

(Gyöngyöspata Solidarity) Are mafia methods the motives underlying the events of recent weeks in Gyöngyöspata, or patriotism? Hard as it is to tell, the village is undoubtedly nicer without uniforms.

Dangerous, cowardly and petty gnomes of the political Wild West opine that playing with fire is not only a tolerable act, but a God-given right and an obligation. Driven by their loaded and false beliefs these soldiers of everyday fascism are putting their hoods on to instill fear and trembling in the now iconic slum of Gyöngyöspata. Jubilant patriotism turned bitter: this grim ethnic fiasco is being refashioned by political bandits as an issue of national socialism, but as some claim, it may in fact be motivated by dirty and unsuppressed greed – at any cost.

Some “unconfirmed sources” say that a “group of friends” are rumored to be extorting protection money from well-off entrepreneurs, promising to safeguard their valuables by means of the uniformed “aliens.” In turn, the extorted sums keep reinforcing their positions.

But let’s not give credit to such hearsay, even though it would be a perfectly logical explanation of this national neo-nazi road show orchestrated by moneygrubbing mobsters “concerned” about the forints of the good Hungarian people.

Milk mixed with blood

No matter how hard the extreme right press may be trying to cynically present the local events as fits their agenda, not everything has gone as planned. They have attempted to frame the dismal Sunday events as evidence of gypsy terror. Resulting from an evening provocation local gypsies threw things at the illegal patrol of the ‘Guard’ squad. The incident could be disapproved of, but not in light of the events that had led here: the dark militia insolently provoked the locals by marching through the gypsy slum while photographing and videotaping on their way, thus invading the privacy of the locals without asking for permission and likely not for sociographic purposes. 

As it turned out later, tensions ran high after shots had been fired the previous night on Rókahegy, the hill above the Roma houses, causing widespread panic among the residents, which was then captured on film by the marching militia.

The events forced the local representative of CKÖ (the Roma Minority Government), the mayor and representatives of Szebb Jövőért (“For a Brighter Future”) civil guard association. Eventually, they merrily announced – possibly according to a pre-written script – that the Roma would cooperate with the patrolling militia – milk mixed with blood.

Trapped boots

The director’s version of the script, however, had yet a bonus track to follow. Late on Monday night a number of frightened phone calls and emails have informed civil rights organizations about hundreds of militiamen flooding the slum. In the end, the police had to cordon the incoming roads to prevent the worst from happening. 

Everyone “got what they wanted:” the Guard members were jeering, the police was keeping up the order and the gypsies were scared stiff.

The next morning members of the the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU, or TASZ in Hungarian) showed up to offer solidarity with the abandoned Roma of Gyöngyöspata, but as the dirty script would make sure, there were no militiamen left in the village. The reason is simple: the extremists had been hoping that the three parties in the talks of the previous day would be willing to sign an agreement, but the vocal Civil Rights groups would stall the agreement in their revolutionary zeal. Then any future militia presence would be justified.

However, it didn’t turn out this way. After some long and heated debate the CKÖ, the mayor, delegates of the HCLU and Szebb Jövőért (“For a Brighter Future”)did not sign an agreement, but reached a compromise to suspend talks until April 7, when they would resume the discussion along with the Police chief of the village and the head of the National Civil Guard Association. The goal of CKÖ and HCLU is to coerce local leaders into publicly denouncing intimidation tactics and stand up for peace and order and a brighter future. Inspired by civil rights groups the local gypsy community would take part in a joint civil guard association, provided that it gets rid of the name and uniform of the current, extreme right-wing civil guard group, Szebb Jövőért (“For a Brighter Future”).

This week Hungary has to submit its national action plan to the European Union for the EU Roma Strategy. Good luck.

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Translated by Péter László


( Military Should Not Ratify the Sentence against Maikel Nabil – APRIL 11, 2011

(New York) – The military court’s sentencing of the blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in prison is a serious setback to freedom of expression in post-Mubarak Egypt, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling comes at a time when the Egyptian military is drawing very restrictive red lines around permissible speech.

“Maikel Nabil’s three-year sentence may be the worst strike against free expression in Egypt since the Mubarak government jailed the first blogger for four years in 2007,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The sentence is not only severe, but it was imposed by a military tribunal after an unfair trial.”

Military officers arrested the 25-year-old activist on March 28, 2011, at his home in Cairo. The military prosecutor charged him with “insulting the military establishment,” under article 184 of the penal code, and with “spreading false information,” a violation of article 102 bis. The military judge had announced on April 6 that he would rule on April 10 after defense lawyers had completed their pleadings. On April 10, Nabil’s lawyers were informed that no session would take place on that day and that the judge would rule on April 12.

Adel Ramadan, of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of Nabil’s defense lawyers, told Human Rights Watch that when the lawyers went to the court complex on the morning of April 11, they saw on the court roll that the court had already sentenced Nabil the day before. In violation of the Code of Military Justice, the lawyers had not been present.

The sentence will only be final once ratified by the chief of the military district. The military should drop all charges against Nabil and immediately release him, Human Rights Watch said.

Since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) assumed power on February 11, the military has arrested at least 200 protesters and tried scores of them before military courts. Over 150 protesters arrested on March 9after the military forcibly cleared Tahrir Square of protesters were sentenced to prison terms by military tribunals in Cairo’s high-security Tora prison and are still being held.

Nabil’s trial has serious implications for freedom of expression on the internet more generally, and in particular the ability to expose military abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

On April 11, Gen. Ismail Etman, head of the Morale Affairs Directorate of the SCAF, said on the live television program Akher Kalam that Nabil had used “inappropriate language” and defamed the military, and that his calls for an end to military conscription would have a negative effect on the youth of Egypt.

Over the past two months, victims of torture by the military and human rights activists who have exposed military abuses have found most Egyptian news media unwilling to cover these issues. Two news conferences by human rights lawyers in which torture victims testified – a subject that independent newspapers and satellite TV stations usually cover – received almost no coverage. Only a limited number of opinion writers in some newspapers and certain TV hosts have been willing to raise the issue of torture by the military.

On February 22, Gen. Etman sent a letter to editors of Egyptian newspapers telling them “not to publish any articles/news/press releases/complaints/advertising/pictures concerning the armed forces or the leadership of the armed forces, except after consulting the Morale Affairs directorate and the Military Intelligence since these are the competent parties to examine such issues to protect the safety of the nation.” Human Rights Watch has seen a photocopy of this letter and confirmed its authenticity.

“State institutions, including the military, should never consider themselves above criticism,” Stork said. “It is only through a public airing of abuses and full accountability measures that Egypt can hope to transition away from past human rights violations.”


(Critical Theory Library) From the tragedy of 9/11 to the farce of the financial meltdown.

Billions of dollars have been hastily poured into the global banking system in a frantic attempt at financial stabilization. So why has it not been possible to bring the same forces to bear in addressing world poverty and environmental crisis?

In this take-no-prisoners analysis, Slavoj Zizek frames the moral failures of the modern world in terms of the epoch-making events of the first decade of this century. What he finds is the old one-two punch of history: the jab of tragedy, the right hook of farce. In the attacks of 9/11 and the global credit crunch, liberalism dies twice: as a political doctrine and as an economic theory.
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is a call for the Left to reinvent itself in the light of our desperate historical situation. The time for liberal, moralistic blackmail is over.

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include First as Tragedy, Then as FarceIraq: The Borrowed KettleIn Defence of Lost CausesWelcome to the Desert of the Real, Living in the End Times, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock; and more.

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