The fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit our country with great force, posing a new challenge for our socially vulnerable, disadvantaged fellow citizens, among them many Roma people. As the Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Nationalities in Hungary, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the competent state and local government bodies have a duty to take effective and targeted action, while individuals can contribute to the rapid resolution of the critical situation by assuming responsibility towards each other, especially by taking up vaccination.
As Minority Ombudsman, I consider it my duty to commemorate the pivotal events in the history of the national minority communities living in our country. Every year it is my sad duty on the International Roma Holocaust Memorial Day to pay tribute to half a million Roma victims in Europe, including tens of thousands in Hungary.
In addition to the Hungarian and universal values of Roma culture and the opportunities opened for the future generations, Minority Ombudsman Professor Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay pointed out on the occasion of the International Roma Day that during the coronavirus pandemic, deprived Roma families, living in difficult conditions in some regions of Hungary, face extreme challenges and need help regardless of the current emergency situation.
On February 23, 2009, exactly eleven years ago, twenty-seven-year-old Róbert Csorba and his four-and-a-half-year-old son were shot by a cold blooded murderer in the yard of their home. The only crime of the victims was that they were born Roma.
Elizabeth Sándor-Szalay Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights contacted the Secretary of State for Culture at the Ministry of Human Capacities and asked for a comprehensive investigation into the “Gumiszoba” program block of the Ship Logbook program launched by the Petofi Literary Museum. The Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities also decided to open a full investigation into the case, in which she also contacted the President of the National Media and Communications Authority.
As the Minority Ombudsman, I have been following the issue of the school segregation of Roma children in Gyöngyöspata in the recent years. In 2011, the Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights uncovered the unlawful segregation of Roma students at the Gyöngyöspata school, and this investigation was also heavily relied upon in subsequent court decisions. The findings and initiatives of the study also contributed to the successful implementation of desegregation processes initiated locally and in other communities facing similar problems.