(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)
For several years, Hungary has again and again received international media attention regarding its big minority of Roma people and in particular its treatment of them. As part of CHAPTER’s final campaign, we spoke to Bálint Josá, activist and director of the organization UNITED for Intercultural Action, who commented on the situation of the Romas in Hungary.
According to Mr. Josá, around two-thirds of the Roma population live under the poverty line, live in segregated areas and often experience police brutality while Hungary has no clear policy against this.
“If it comes to light and the media writes about an issues then the individual policemen gets sanctioned so there are consequences but there is no policy, which means that in many cases no one really notices and a clear racial profiling is taking place in Hungary”.
Another issue is the segregated schools in Hungary. As Mr. Josá states, it is illegal to segregate Roma children from other children in Hungary. However, according to him, letting the directors of the schools create different classes such as A, B and C classes provides for a system in which they can categorize for example the C-classes as the Roma classes. In addition, it seems to be a habit within the specific schools districts for the officials to informally decide on which schools should be ‘segregated’ letting other schools decline the enrolment of Roma children.
“So you can grow up in a village knowing that there are Roma people in your village but not really meeting them in your life because the municipality treats them differently, the police keep them on track and you are not going to school with them”.
The activist and director stresses that the treatment of the Roma communities is a sign of racism. He adds that the government opposition acts as if in support of the Roma population but only enough to not risk losing votes from the generally distrustful Hungarian population.
UNITED for Intercultural Action was founded in 1993 and has ever since been a large pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities. Together with more than 560 supporter organizations around Europe – ranging from local grassroots associations to national and international NGOs, UNITED coordinates campaign, organizes conferences, takes part in projects, produces publications and undertakes advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society.
Visit UNITED for Intercultural Action’s website here: https://unitedfia.org/about-united/