Extremist Vigilantes in the Town

From the website of the Athena Institute in Budapest:

In the village of Gyöngyöspata, under the flag of the ‘For A Better Future’, the New Hungarian Guard carried out a symbolic attack against the Hungarian Roma community in March that increased local tensions and identified the village as a ‘war theater’ on the national level. Other extremist groups, including the Soldiers of the Defence Force and the Outlaw’s Army joined the campaign.

After the Guard ended its campaign, tensions as well as members of the Soldiers of the Defense Force and the Outlaw’s Army remained.

Subsequently, Defense Force leader Tamas Eszes bought private property adjacent to Roma populated area of the village and announced his plans to establish a permanent paramilitary training camp – open for other extremist groups – there. In the following weeks, the Defense Force publicly raised money and recruited activists on its website and on social networking sites to build the camp up.

The Defense Force publicly announced the opening of its first paramilitary training camp three weeks in advance.

The mayor of the village resigned five days before the paramilitary training was announced to start.

On April 22, the day when the camp was to open

  • women and children of the local Roma community were ‘evacuated’ by Red Cross,
  • National Police called off the training camp and took members of the group into custody,
  • the Minister of Interior visited the village to calm the situation.

On April 25, the Court relieved all accused and closed the case. The conflicting application of relevant laws by the Court and the National Police resulted in a situation in which members of the extremist groups felt encouraged to continue their campaign.

After his release, Defense Force leader Tamas Eszes announced his candidacy for the mayorship of the village.

The next day, on April 26, renewed provocations by members of the Defense Force and the Outlaw’s Army against the local Roma community culminated in a violent clash between the two sides. Four were hospitalized. A surveillance camera recording was later made public by the National Police setting the record strait – that the violence was a result of extremist provocation:

As part of its ongoing investigation, National Police took into custody a yet unconfirmed number of people, including extremist elements and members of the Roma who participated in the subsequent clash. The incident generated national media attention that lasted for days.

The Prime Minister – via his spokesman – condemned violence as well as the extremist groups involved, while the government introduced new legislation aiming to ban similar extremist campaigns.

Extremist elements are still present in the village while some Roma families have allegedly left permanently. There were no charges filled against Defense Force leaser Tamas Eszes. As noted above, a national political debate started, but at the verge of becoming a totally counterproductive party political blame game.

For an investigate report on why Gyöngyöspata became the host of extremism, see this post by the Athena Institute.

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