Demonstrations for Szekler autonomy were held in Hungary as well as in major European and American cities on Sunday.
In Hungary, the demonstrations took place in Budapest, Szolnok, Keszthely and Sarospatak.
More than 1,000 people of all ages protested in front of the Romanian embassy in Budapest on Sunday afternoon. A number of Szekler and Hungarian flags could be seen in the crowd, and many protestors arrived with flags bearing the Arpad stripes, the symbol of a medieval Hungarian dynasty.
Many of the demonstrators came dressed in Szekler folk costumes. Some wore outfits reminiscent of the Ragged Guards, a paramilitary group set up in the early 1920s, while others were dressed in the black of the “Guards of the Carpathian Homeland”.
The demonstration in the capital, organised by the Pro Szeklerland Association, started at 4pm and was scheduled to coincide with others in big cities in Europe and North America.
Mozes Arpad Gyorgy, who heads the association, said that demonstrators took up the cause in Los Angeles, too, even though the event took place at 6 in the morning, local time.
The association secretary Lajos Laszlo read aloud a Szeklerland message in which Szeklers said they want to freely use their mother tongue and symbols and called for Hungarian to be made the official language.
“We want autonomy, because autonomy is the only acceptable solution,” he said, quoting the message.
Laszlo said almost 3,000 people had joined the demonstration in Budapest. He added that more than 30,000 had protested at the main rally in Targu Mures (Marosvasarhely) on the Day of Szekler Freedom (March 10).
The demonstration in Budapest finished, without incident, a little before 6pm.
In Targu Mures, participants read out a petition to the Romanian government, urging territorial autonomy for the country’s central Szeklerland, a historical region, where about half of the 1.4 million ethnic Hungarians live. The petitioners demanded that Szeklerland should become a separate unit in terms of access to EU development funds.
Demonstrations for Szekler autonomy were also organised in front of Romanian embassies and consulates in London, Vienna, Helsinki, the Hague, Munich, Stockholm and Zurich. In the United States, protests were planned for New York, Cleveland and Los Angeles. Demonstrations were also to take place in the Canadian cities of Toronto and Ottawa.
About 150 people demonstrated in Cleveland, at Saint Emeric Church, Lorant Csibi, the organiser and chief editor at the city’s Bocskai Radio, told MTI by phone.
About 70 people participated in a programme at the San Fernando Valley Hungarian Reformed Church that highlighted the matter of Szekler autonomy in a programme of prayer, verse and music.
About 20 people joined a flashmob with Szekler flags near the White House in Washington.
In Vienna, about 500 participated at a demonstration for Szekler autonomy.
In Helsinki, 35 people protested in front of the Romanian embassy.
About 70 demonstrated in front of the country’s embassy in Stockholm.
About 25 people joined the protest in Brussels.
“The goal of the Szekler National Council is to achieve territorial autonomy for Szeklerland, which in the 21st century means the same as legal, free and independent national status meant in the 19th century,” the council says on its website.
March 10 is the anniversary of the execution in Targu Mures in 1854 of three Szeklers who tried to achieve national self-determination.