Published on Monday, 27 August 2012 10:07 Written by MTI
Mate Szabo said in a statement that the police decision to ban the event planned for Saturday did not violate Jobbik’s assembly rights and was not discriminatory. Police must ban an event if it hinders traffic and there are no alternative routes of passage possible. Szabo said, however, that this reasoning, which is part of the law on free assembly, was difficult to properly underpin with professional arguments and therefore carried the risk that rights could be harmed.
The government spokesman’s office said in a statement that a recent court decision which obliged police to allow and secure another procession on Saturday marking the fifth anniversary of the Hungarian Guard, a banned paramilitary organisation, had to be respected. At the same time, the government stood determined to protect plural democracy against all ideologies and actions that promote exclusion and hatred, the statement added.
The government makes it clear that it fully rejects the ideology that adherents of the banned organisation stands for, the statement said. The state maintains its monopoly to administer justice and does not tolerate illegal paramilitary organisations, it added.
All precautions will be taken by police to ensure that order is maintained at the event and if any unlawful act is committed, it will act with the full force of law, the statement said.
In a statement of Friday, the Hungarian Resistance and Anti-Fascist Association (MEASZ) condemned the planned event, saying that it protested against the fact that three years after the Hungarian Guard was outlawed, a judge gave the go-ahead for the Saturday rally in Heroes’ Square.
Meanwhile, Szabó has launched an investigation into the police response to two far-right demonstrations held about two weeks apart in August in Devecser in the west and Cegled in central Hungary.
Szabo’s office said in a statement on Friday that several events over the past few months called for increased protection and a stronger position from the state regarding the principle of equal dignity.
On August 5, the radical nationalist Jobbik party held a demonstration jointly with several far-right groups, demanding the re-introduction of capital punishment in Hungarian law. Press reports said the march passed through streets inhabited by Roma and two people were injured during altercations.
The ombudsman said that soon after the demonstration in Devecser, tension built up between uniformed organisations and local Roma in Cegled, a town 70 km east of Budapest. Szabo said the national police chief had ordered a fact-finding probe into the police response. The probe will seek to establish within ten days whether police officers made mistakes or failed to take the required measures in managing the conflict.
Last week Miklos Korondi, a local lawmaker for the Jobbik party in Cegled, said conflicts between “Hungarians and Roma” in the town had well preceded the past few days. He said recently arrived out-of-towners with “criminal lifestyles” were to be blamed for the mounting tension.
The main opposition Socialists called for parliament’s human rights committee to convene to discuss recent tension between Roma and other locals of Cegled, committee member Ildiko Lendvai said.
Far-right groups aim to generate political capital by triggering violent clashes and drum up support, Lendvai said in a statement sent to MTI.
Lendvai said parliament’s human rights committee must prevent the far right’s efforts to provoke counterattacks.
She suggested inviting representatives of the interior ministry, the ministry for human resources, the justice ministry and Roma organisations to attend the meeting.
On August 19, around 400 people gathered on the outskirts of the town, most of them associated with a far-right movement. About 80 police officers guarded the houses of Roma residents. No incidents were reported.
People around town said that recent thefts by Roma had led them to ask for the help of the New Magyar Guard, an illegal new formation of the disbanded uniformed arm of the radical nationalist Jobbik party. On Saturday night, some of them had gone on a “patrol walk” when about 80 Roma armed with garden tools, knives and other weapons marched towards them, one of the “patrollers” told MTI.
Ten Roma organisations issued a joint statement on Monday, condemning the situation in Cegled. Roma families live in fear and some fled their homes to stay with relatives, the statement said.
Laszlo Foldi, the local mayor, said false rumours had circulated around town that he planned to move 40 Roma families into a suburb which already has a mixed population of Roma and non-Roma, and these had “blown out of proportion”.