26 Feb 2018

Few Hungarians willing to commemorate Roma victims

Ten years after a wave of hate crimes against Roma, only a handful of people bothered to attend a memorial service for the victims -- and one village refused to erect a statue of one of the victims.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava Online
Few Hungarians willing to commemorate Roma victims - NewsMavens
Roma woman. Wikiconmmons

Why this story matters:

In 2008 and 2009, Hungary witnessed a series of cruel attacks on members of the Roma community. In many cases the perpetrators threw Molotov cocktails on the houses of innocent people and shot them while they were fleeing. Six people, including a 5-year-old child, died in the attacks. 

Ten years later, almost no one attended a commemoration held in Budapest.

“It seems like as if Hungarian society does not want to remember,” wrote Nepszava editors.

In their speech, the organizers of the memorial event underlined the link between racism and physical violence, and rightly so: the indifference shown to the Roma victims is fueled by the same feeling that prompted people to light Molotov cocktails. Ten years later, the same crimes could happen again.

illiberalism,human rights,violence,Romacommunity

Details from the story:

  • Three men conducted a wave of attacks against Roma in nine villages across Hungary starting in 2008.
  • The attackers threw 11 Molotov cocktails into homes and fired 78 shots at Romas running out of the burning houses. 
  • Six people, including a 5-year-old, died. Five others suffered serious injuries.
  • The attackers received life sentences.
  • Alexander Schikowski, a German artist based in Hungary, offered a wood sculpture to commemorate the victims of the village of Tatarszentgyorgy. The local government declined, saying locals wanted to forget the tragedy.
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