On 30 May 2015, the Court of Rome condemned the city for discriminating against Roma by forcibly relocating them to La Barbuta camp in the outskirts of the city. We waited for more than three years. It was worth it.
This short history of segregation and its challengers shows that there is nothing incidental or accidental about the practices that perpetuate school segregation and inequality in Hungary. It is deliberate, knowing and systemic. And that is why it’s time for the EU to intervene to challenge ethnic discrimination in this illiberal democracy.
I remember when I started the first grade in my home village in Transylvania. We were between twenty and thirty classmates, with six or seven Roma kids among us. They sat in the last row of benches and I myself had very little communication with them.
During a panel discussion last week at the PILnet European pro bono forum, the question was put to us whether there was a risk that those litigating Roma rights might lose touch with the wishes of Roma litigants. The concern was that complex and lengthy legal battles might become unrecognisable to those supposedly waging them.
The town of Miskolc in north-eastern Hungary is at the segregation game again. The town, once the centre of coal, iron and steel industries, and once a major employer for thousands Roma is not new to controversies regarding segregation. This is the town that was forced by the High Court to shut down segregating schools.