Aladàr Horvàth, chair of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation in Hungary and a former member of the Hungarian Parliament, provides an overview of the history of the Roma people in Hungary and the social and political landscape in the country that has brought so many of them to Canada seeking refugee status in recent months.*
He identifies the hate speech prevalent in Hungarian media as central to the overall societal disdain for the Roma, and describes the hardships faced by locals resulting from routine police brutality, structural violence, and aggression from local governments. Context is provided around the practice of forced labour camps that separate families and destroy Roma communities.
Horvàth ends by urging the Canadian government not to recognize or support the Hungarian state until the right of the Roma people to be free from discrimination and persecution has been addressed.
* In the past four months Canada has seen a record flood of Roma refugee claimants arriving at Pearson International Airport, with an average of 17 Roma claimants having arrived each day in September and October 2011 and an unprecedented 91 Roma asylum-seekers landing in a single day on October 26th. Of the total 2519 Hungarian Roma refugee claims filed at Pearson between January and October 31st, over a third of claimants were children and under a third were women. In all of 2010, 1486 Hungarian Roma filed claims at Pearson. (All statistics above obtained from the Canada Border Services Agency.)
The image above is of the screen print by Pete Yahnke Railand with the Just Seeds Artists' Collective, titled "Study."
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