Violent evictions of Roma in Hungary

05 December 2000

On November 9, 2000, according to the Roma Press Center and the Hungarian daily Népszava of November 10, an evicted Romani woman from Magdolna street, in Budapest's eighth district, kicked the court executor in the ankle after he laughed at her demand that the local government's representative provide accommodation for her family. In response, the court executor reportedly kicked her in the belly and called the police. When the police arrived they did not intervene in the fight, but asked to see the ID card of the woman's brother. After receiving the document the police officer threw it in the face of the Romani man, and threatened to take him into custody for not speaking politely, and not taking his hands out of his pockets. The police took the evicted woman to the police station, and she was released after a few hours, without being examined or receiving a medical certificate.

On October 19, 2000, according to the Roma Press Center, a group of Romani families was evicted from apartments in Budapest's eighth district by a local government notary order. Among others was a family of five Romani children and their mother: they had moved to Budapest from the countryside in order to find work. As they could not afford the high costs of renting an apartment, they had been squatting in an apartment in Budapest's eighth district. According to current regulations, after the eviction they should have been accommodated in a temporary family hostel. However, the eighth district does not have such a facility, and the one they were sent to was under reconstruction, so the family was obliged to spend the following nights in the subway. In May 2000, an amendment to the Housing Act authorising notaries to evict squatters and unlawful tenants within a matter of a few days went into effect. In practice, this amendment allows local governments to evict unlawful tenants and families even if an appeal against the eviction is pending. The situation is particularly alarming because, unlike in previous years, no moratorium was accepted for evictions during the winter months. Furthermore, many of the evicted families face separation, as evicted children are frequently taken into state custody if no alternative accommodation is found.

Evictions are not limited to Budapest: the Roma Press Center reported that at 7:00 AM, on November 30, 2000, in the town of Monor, 30 kilometers southwest of Budapest, a Romani family of five adults and two small children were evicted from the municipally owned flat in which they had lived illegally for years. The eviction was carried out by approximately twenty armed police officers and about twelve masked guards. The eviction was first attempted on October 27, when more than fifty local Romani families protested, and managed to postpone, the eviction of three Romani families. During the protest, organised by the Budapest-based Foundation forRomani Civil Rights, protesters gathered in and around the families' units, physically hindering the eviction. These families are among approximately twenty to be displaced by a wave of evictions of Romani families in the town. The mayor has reportedly stated that the local government has no obligation to accommodate the evicted families. According to legal defense activists and the local Romani community, the mayor has rejected the accusations that the local government is taking these measures in order to expel the Romani population from Monor.

(Népszava, Roma Press Center)


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