Firebomb attacks on Roma in Hungary
15 August 2001
Unknown persons threw a firebomb into the house of a Romani family in Hencida, Hajdu-Bihar County in northeastern Hungary, shortly after midnight on June 18, 2001, according to reports in the Hungarian daily newspapers Népszabadság and Magyar Nemzet and by the Roma Press Center. The firebomb landed in a children's bedroom and two children sustained burns; a fourteen-year-old girl, Hajnalka A., was taken to a clinic in Debrecen and required plastic surgery to her hand and arm, and a younger sister of hers suffered light injuries to the head.
In a similar incident, the Roma Press Center has reported that three men attacked two houses in the village of Jászladány, Szolnok County, with firebombs on June 5, 2001. The houses belonged to a Romani family and to an elderly former priest, known in the village for his good relations with the Romani community. No one was injured, and the houses did not sustain any serious damage as the fires were put out quickly. The police have arrested three local non-Romani men on charges of attempted murder, but the police deny a racial motive in the attack. The Roma Press Center, however, reports that the victims and witnesses heard the attackers shouting anti-Romani statements, such as "you will die, Gypsies." According to local Gypsy minority self-government representatives, the incident is not an isolated one; the Roma Press Center has reported that members of the Romani community in Jászladány have repeatedly complained that groups of hooded men regularly roam the streets at night, verbally abusing and threatening Roma they see. Local Gypsy minority self-governments are advisory bodies to local councils in Hungary. More information on the human rights situation of Roma in Hungary is available on the ERRC website at: www.errc.org.
(Népszabadság, Magyar Nemzet, Roma Press Center)