10 Facts about Hungarian Roma

20 October 2015

There is growing debate following remarks from the Hungarian Justice Minister László Trócsányi in Brussels yesterday talking about Hungarian Roma in connection to radicalisation. On this occasion the European Roma Rights Centre reminds everyone that Hungarian Roma are an integral part of Hungarian society:

  1. Roma have been living as part of Hungarian society since the 14th century.
  2. Today approximately 750,000 Roma live in Hungary. That is 7.49 % of the population.
  3. All Hungarian Roma speak Hungarian and only 17% of them speak Hungarian as a second language.
  4. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49 the Roma sided with the Hungarian cause, and many repaired weapons or worked as cannon-casters or camp musicians who assisted the county-level recruitment campaigns.
  5. Numerous Hungarian Roma participated in the Revolution of 1956. One of them was Ilona Szabó, who was shot dead at the age of 17 by Soviet forces.

Regardless of the shared history and shared struggles Roma in Hungary face neglect, discrimination and oppression.

  1. Thousands of Hungarian Roma were killed for being Roma during the Holocaust. Later the Roma worked largely in sectors which went bankrupt after the democratic transition of Hungary in 1990 (mining, heavy industry) and they have not yet recovered: today, only 26% of working-age Roma are employed.
  2. The areas where Hungarian Roma live are mainly disadvantaged areas and small villages where there are no job opportunities. The average life expectancy for Roma in Hungary is ten to twelve years less than for non-Roma.
  3. Between July 2008 and August 2009, six Romani people, among them a 5 year-old child, were killed, and 55 others injured, in a string of racist attacks in rural Hungarian villages.
  4. The openly anti-Roma radical right-wing populist party Jobbik secured 20.54% of the votes during the Parliamentary elections of 2014.
  5. Hungary’s Supreme Court recently declared that the segregation of Roma children in church schools is legal.

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