UPDATE: Hungary School Incident: CCTV Footage Does Not Rule Out Suspicion of Racist Acts in Konyár
23 September 2013
Budapest, 23 September 2013: Hungarian and international NGOs have responded to police statements about a possible racist attack in front of a primary school in Konyár. The Hungarian Police force has stated that there were no human rights violations on 5 September when a busload of football fans stopped in front of the school. The police based their conclusion on an unclear, mute recording, which they recently released. However, according to human rights organisations, the legality of the police reaction is disputable, and the recording is not sufficient to explain what happened in Konyár.
The CCTV footage released by the police does not give a clear picture of what happened on the scene. The recording is mute, so it is impossible to tell whether any racist or threatening statements were made. In addition, the video only shows part of the schoolyard and the street. The footage does not show a mass identity check leading by the police even though, according to the first police announcement, it took place on the spot. As a consequence, the statement of the police that says that public urination, for example, did not happen, because it is not visible on the recording, is disputable, since footage from other cameras covering the area has not been released.
The website hvg.hu released a briefer, but clearer version of the video (the police version has been blurred), which proves the necessity of further investigations.
- On this recording it is clearly visible that the bus passengers held a large banner with a symbol that is linked with the Hungarian far right/facist parties. Also, one of the passengers is waving towards the children in the schoolyard.
- It shows that the majority of children turn towards the bus and – contradictory to thse statement of the police – stop playing even before the bus passengers line up opposite the school. This increases the probability that provocative noises took place even before the passengers sang the anthem and shouted a national chant “ria-ria”.
- The recording clearly shows the teacher leading the children from the schoolyard into the school about half a minute after the group of football fans has lined up. The police stated that the children went inside because it was the end of their break, however this cannot clearly be shown based on the recording. The end of the break and the threatening actions are not mutually exclusive.
- It is not clear whether the children showed fear, based on the recording. Even if the video doesn’t clearly show that the children were afraid, the provactive behaviour against the community has the potential to cause fear. In any case, some of the residents and children declared they were afraid. The police annoucement referred to these declarations, however with an attitude of blaming the victims.
The police seemingly ignored the fact that one of the bus passengers was a former teacher who was fired from the school after he shared a video which supported the use of violence in the education of Romani children. He gave reasons for the presence of the fans on the far-right extremist website kuruc.info. According to his explanation: “we thought that we would sing them the Hungarian and the szekler anthem in order to form their identity – in schools they do not sing these anthems very often... So leading by this aim we sang the two anthems and said a loud ’ria-ria-Hungária’ chant.”
Civil organisations furthermore maintain their statement, stating that the passive nature of the police response is a serious human rights abuse. The organisations call upon the police to investigate the case based on the requirements of equal treatment. The recording does not rule out a suspicion of hate crime. Based upon the law, police should have already launched proceedings ex officio and interrogated eyewitnesses. It is inexplicable that the police have made public announcements full of unproven statements, insteading of clarifying the questions by adequately investigating. Without a proper investigation it cannot be determined what happened and whether there was a crime or not.
For further information, contact:
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre