Skinheads attack Roma in Hungary

07 December 1999

On October 17, 1999, a group of skinheads reportedly attacked two Roma, Mr József D. and Mr Tibor O. when they stopped at the Fekete Boszorkány, a pub in Kakucs, Pest County, to buy cigarettes. The pair were returning to Tatárszentgyörgy after visiting relatives.

According to testimony provided by the victims to the Budapest-based Roma Press Center, Tibor O. went inside to get the cigarettes while Jósef D. waited in the car. As soon as he was inside, somebody grabbed Tibor O.'s hair and tried to hit him with a baseball bat. When Jósef D. heard the noise coming from the pub, he got out of the car, and saw several skinheads assaulting his companion just inside the front door of the pub.

According to the victims, there were eight skinheads and they carried a variety of weapons including guns, baseball bats, swords and iron pipes. The two Romani men tried to escape in their car, but the skinheads followed them into a nearby Romani settlement. Jósef D. ran into a house and hid inside the bathroom. Meanwhile, the skinheads caught Tibor O. and beat him while shouting racial epithets. Eight skinheads then allegedly threatened the owner of the house where Jósef D. had hidden. They said if he did not turn him over, they would "set fire to the whole Romani community", and they kicked him. Upon hearing the commotion, six other Roma arrived at the scene of the attack wielding spades and hoes. They were led by the head of the local Gypsy Self Government, Mr József Oláh. At that point, attackers fled in their car.

Tibor O. reportedly suffered serious physical injuries and was incapacitated for more than eight days. According to the head of the crime department at the Dabas Police Station, as of November 11 an investigation was underway into allegations of disturbing the peace and bodily harm. Police statements indicate that they may not apply available provisions of the Hungarian penal code pertaining to racially motivated crime.

According to the Roma Press Center, another case of anti-Romani violence in Hungary occurred on August 29, 1999, when a group of approximately thirty persons attacked a Romani family in Újfehértó, a village near Nyíregyháza in eastern Hungary. Nine cars pulled up in front of the house of a Romani family and approximately thirty people jumped out and started to assault the male members of the family. The group was armed with iron rods and baseball bats. Eight of the victims were taken to hospital, and the eldest of them needed surgery on his arms. According to witnesses, the attackers continued threatening the Roma even as police officers were arriving at the scene. Some of them shouted, "If you want to live here, you have to play by our rules. If not, move away from Újfehértó." It is not clear exactly to which rules the mob was referring.
Mr Miklós Pásztor, the head of the Crime Department in Nyíregyháza said that two suspects had been interrogated, but they had refused to make any statements. One of the suspects is from Újfehértó, the other from Debrecen. Mr Pásztor confirmed the claim that the attackers had been skilled in the martial arts, and he suspected they had probably all belonged to such a club. As of November 11, no arrests have been made and the investigation is continuing.

(Roma Press Center)


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