Hungary’s government on Thursday responded to a letter by Amnesty International critical of the authorities’ responses to the intimidation of minorities and ethnic groups, underlining its commitment to “protecting its citizens, regardless of ethnic, cultural or social identity”.
The statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said that the government “does not tolerate any kind of intimidation of minorities and ethnic groups.”
Referring to Amensty’s Wednesday statement on police handling of vigilantes recently operating in the village of Devecser, a village in western Hungary largely populated by Roma, the PM’s Office said “police are using all means available to them to prevent criminal acts – including those committed by vigilantes – and it shall not allow quasi-paramilitary groups to challenge the rule of law.”
Amnesty said in a letter to the government that the Hungarian authorities “must do more to protect the country’s Roma communities.”
“Violence broke out on 5 August, when more than 1,000 people gathered in Devecser’s main square at a demonstration organized by far-right party Jobbik and joined by far-right vigilante groups,” Amnesty said in a statement on its website in connection with its letter to the government.
“According to eyewitnesses some members of the crowd chanted anti-Roma slogans and threw pieces of concrete and other missiles at Roma houses. The police did not act to stop the violence and it is unclear whether any arrests were made,” it added.
The PM’s Office responded in its statement that the government “sees improving the situation of the Roma as a priority both at domestic and European levels. Hungary’s National Strategy for Social Inclusion seeks to offer solutions for all those living in poverty, regardless of their ethnic background. Furthermore, during its EU presidency, the Government of Hungary created the Common European Framework for National Roma Strategies, which offers social inclusion programmes and sustainable solutions for social conflicts.”