View Full Version : Discrimination of Gypsies Looms in Hungarian Schools

04-09-2013, 08:35 PM
Hungarian civil-rights groups marked Monday’s International Roma Day by warning that proposed changes to the country’s Equal Rights Act could open the door to cementing the segregation of gypsies in elementary schools.

Late last month, Hungary’s justice minister, Tibor Navracsics, introduced a bill in Parliament that would amend the equal rights law to say that “pursuing equal rights and social catching-up are first and foremost a state commitment” – adding the words “social catching-up.”

Rights groups said the new wording could enshrine in law an already existing practice of channeling Roma children into special-needs classes or separate grade schools originally created for children with learning disabilities regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.

Hungary also has many schools that have become segregated as majority Hungarians have taken their children out of schools with many Roma students.

Critics of such practices, which are also widespread in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, say that rather than helping Roma children, they end up segregating them and perpetuating discrimination. Rights groups argue that children of different backgrounds should be schooled together.

Hungarian government officials have responded that their aim is not segregation, but instead part of a focus effort to assist disadvantaged Roma. At a Roma cultural festival in northern Hungary’s Bodvalenke on Friday, Zoltan Kovacs, a senior official working on Roma integration, called for a pragmatic approach.

“One of the greatest dangers to the Roma is right-wing extremists; we have taken very strict measures against them. The other is dogmatic rights groups,” Mr. Kovacs said in the town of Bodvalenke in Northern Hungary.

Erzsebet Mohacsi, president of the Chance for Children Foundation, which fights for equal rights in the education of Roma and other disadvantaged children in Hungary, said special programs to teach Roma children separately would replicate failed efforts during the communist era and violate current European Union laws.

Laszlo Andor, EU Commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion stressed the school system must be mixed even where there is a large Roma population, otherwise social exclusion will continue at a later stage.

“It’s effectively impossible to remedy this [issue] if it’s not addressed early enough,” Mr. Andor told reporters in Bodvalenke.

Mihaly Simon, a member of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union responsible for Roma issues said in a blog published on the organization’s web site that the government’s communication now shows an aggressive stance.

“This is the first time in the history of Hungary’s constitutionality that a government fiddles with the basic law with the clear intention of unlawful segregation,” Mr. Simon said.

In Hungary’s 2011 census, 315,000 of the country’s almost 10 million people identified themselves as Roma. Experts estimate the real number is between 700,000 and 800,000, since many try to keep their ethnic identity secret to avoid discrimination.

Education was a central topic at the Roma celebration in Bodvalenke on Friday, with teachers and activists saying that drop-out rates for gypsy children are unacceptably high. Even getting students to finish the eight years of primary school is a challenge.

An Amnesty International study published last week found that only one in seven Roma citizens of the EU complete secondary school. The EU has an estimated 6 million Roma.

Children who do go on to high school in many Roma-inhabited areas aren’t well prepared. “Our first-graders many times can’t read a sentence out properly or have trouble with basic mathematics,” said Tibor Derdak, a teacher and activist with Buddhist Jai Bhim, an organization working with Roma and other underprivileged groups to provide access to education and sports.

Bodvalenke is a poor village with a Roma majority and many unemployed. But it has been turned into an outdoor gallery of sorts, with colorful murals painted by Roma artists on the walls of many buildings.

Eszter Pasztor, one of the organizers of the art project, said that poor infrastructure was hindering efforts to turn the village’s murals into a tourist attraction. She and others expressed concerns that EU funds meant to help Roma don’t end up in the hands of those who need them.

Ms. Pasztor and others said the EU should work directly with non-governmental organizations that are close to Roma communities and channel money to them in a transparent way.

“We are of course aware that human rights groups are doing hard work and their job is essential,” the government’s Mr. Kovacs said. “We’ve only criticized the dogmatic rights groups.”


04-09-2013, 08:36 PM
According to Amnesty International, gypsies are victims of violent attacks in Hungary, not the other way around.

Amnesty International will ask the European Commission to take urgent action against Hungary to stop violence and racial discrimination against the Roma people said the head of the organization's Hungarian wing Orsolya Jeney at Monday's press conference in Budapest.

According to Jeney, an effective action is needed to protect the Roma minority in Hungary.

Jeney announced that Amnesty International launches an international campaign asking EU Human Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding to use all available means in defending the Roma people from violent attacks and racial discrimination.

A signature collection campaign will be organized, not only in support of the "Roma", but to protect the basic rights of all EU citizens.


04-11-2013, 11:20 AM
Fucking hypocrites and idiots.