MRG concerned over Hungarian mayor insisting on his anti-Roma statements
Minority Rights Group International condemns the continuous anti-Roma statements made by József Répás, the mayor of Kiskunlacháza, which contribute to prejudice against the Roma community.
MRG is also concerned that he insists on upholding his anti-Roma views despite the Equal Treatment Authority of Hungary ruling his statements as unlawful.
After a young local girl had been raped and murdered in November 2008, Mr. Répás organised a demonstration ‘for life against violence’ in Kiskunlacháza. Despite knowing that prevailing anti-Roma sentiment was growing in Kiskunlacháza after the incident, he made anti-Roma statements during the event.
Five days after the murder, he said, “There is no room for violence in Kiskunlacháza, there is no room for criminals, there has been enough of the violence by the Roma in Kiskunlacháza. […] Yet we are the majority.”
“It is totally unacceptable to threaten members of a community on the principle of collective guilt and create a climate which encourages intolerance and hatred,” said Neil Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia Programmes.
The mayor also made several, other racist and anti-Roma statements in other forums including the local town paper. Later the perpetrator (a non-Roma) of the murder was arrested and the three local Roma people who had been rumoured to have committed the crime were proved to be innocent.
The Equal Treatment Authority declared last week that Mr. Répás violated the Act on Equal Treatment and had committed harrassment. The mayor, however, denies that he acted unlawfully, and announced that he will not withdraw his oral and written statements.
MRG is worried about anti-Roma statements made by officials and the increasing trend of anti-Roma hate speech in Hungary.
In January 2009 Albert Pásztor, the Police Chief of Miskolc said at a press conference that the perpetrators of nearly all violent robberies committed in Miskolc are of Roma origin. In September 2009 Oszkár Molnár, the mayor of Edelény made very discriminatory comments about pregnant Roma women.
MRG calls on Mr. Répás to act according to the ruling of the Equal Treatment Authority and abstain from unlawful, harrassing and discriminative oral and written statements.