Jai Bhim Network

Murder Mystery: Who’s Killing Hungary’s Gypsies?

2009.05.06. Categorized: Uncategorized   

This Roma Gypsy man named Jeno Koka was a victim of right-wing extremist aggression toward Gypsies, which is on the rise in Central and Eastern Europe. (Photo: Bela Szandelszky / AP)By John Nadler / Tiszalök

Published: May 1, 2009 in Time Magazine

Jeno Koka’s killers shot him in the chest moments after he had bid good night to his wife Eva and stepped from his house on his way to a shift at the nearby pharmaceutical factory where he worked.

The 54-year-old grandfather bled to death only a few paces from his doorstep.

Although Koka’s wife said she never heard the shot that felled her husband, hundreds of thousands of others across Hungary did.

Koka’s murder on April 22 was the fifth in recent months of a member of Hungary’s 600,000-strong Roma community.

Hungarian police believe that a small group of killers is targeting Roma, who are also known as gypsies and remain one of the most marginalized and neglected groups in Europe. (Read: “Child Migrants on Hunger Strike.”)

At Koka’s funeral, as a septet of folk musicians played a dirge, some 400 mourners stood beneath canopies of pine and birch boughs listening glumly as the Rev. Sandor Gaal described the murder as part of a “storm” now enveloping Hungary. “The storm struck at our brother in Tiszalök,” Gaal said. “The storm has upset life in this town.”

It’s not only Tiszalök. The murders, which began last November, have unsettled all of Hungary. “They just keep on killing Roma people,” says a 35-year-old woman at the funeral, who refused to identify herself or her village because she feared being attacked herself.

Hungarian National Police High Commissioner Jozsef Bencze says he has 100 investigators working the case, and has set up a response network so police can lock down any area in Hungary within five minutes of receiving word of a new attack. Police have also announced a reward worth $231,000 for information resulting in an arrest in any of the murders. “The noose is tightening around these perpetrators,” he told TIME.

Relations between ethnic Hungarians and Roma, who account for 6% of the country’s ten million people, have never been easy. Recent problems date to 2006 when a driver was beaten to death, reportedly by Roma bystanders, after his car hit, but did not seriously injure, a Roma child. Tensions grew a year later with the formation of a national paramilitary civilian group, which calls itself the Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard.) With uniforms that bear right wing nationalist symbols, the Garda drew the ire of the Roma community because of the group’s stated mandate to protect Hungarians against ‘Roma crime.’ (Read: “Is Hungary the Financial Crisis’ Next Iceland?”)

Anger became open violence last year when Roma homes and citizens were shot at, and firebombed with Molotov cocktails. The first fatalities, a Roma couple living in the eastern village of Nagycsécs, occurred in November. In February in a village 39 miles (63 km) south of Budapest, Csaba Csorba, 27, and his four-year-old son were gunned down after firebombs had been used to flush them from their house.

Police commissioner Bencze says that his officers are investigating as many as 18 incidents of anti-Roma violence, and believe that eight attacks could be the work of the same person or people who killed Koka. “The attacks are usually with Molotov cocktails and various types of firearms,” says Bencze. “The attacks are usually at night, and against houses which are on the outskirts of the villages.”

Koka’s home at the end of Nefelejcs Utca (Forget Me Not Street) on the edge of Tiszalök’s Roma quarter bolsters Bencze’s contention that the killer or killers plan their attacks and escapes carefully. By positioning themselves on the outskirts of the community, Koka’s killers were able to lie in wait unobserved, and slip away without witnesses seeing their vehicle. According to a source in the Roma National Council, Koka’s killers were careful not to leave a shell casing behind as evidence.

Police say that the killers may have military training. “You can’t exclude the possibility that these people got their training in the army or a law enforcement institution,” Bencze said, “or the foreign legion or the Balkan wars.”

As the investigation drags on, Roma leaders fear that anger within their community could lead to reprisal attacks. “It is important to know that it is hard for us to keep holding our people back,” says Mihaly Balogh, local leader of the National Roma Council in Tiszalök. “I tell everyone that we have a police force that is there to protect us … But if the murders are not solved soon, it will be very difficult to stop people from acting.”

A wave of revenge attacks, Balogh says, would have “terrible consequences” in a country that has become a racial powder keg and has been hit hard by the global economic crisis. “There are parties that are saying that the Roma [are] to blame for the problems in the country,” says Orban Kolompar, president of the National Roma Council, who believes the economic downturn will lead to increased support for far-right parties with anti-Roma platforms in both European parliamentary elections this year and Hungarian national elections next. “Voters who are disillusioned [by the crisis] may join them.”

But police chief Bencze, who attended Koka’s funeral this week, says the first attacks predate Wall Street’s collapse and that it’s too easy to blame the economic problems alone. “There can be many possible motivations behind this crime, such as racial hatred,” he said. “We’ll know for sure when we’ve caught the criminals.”

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Our Inspiration 1st Part

Our Inspiration (1st Part)
Jai Bhim is a cheerful greeting. Ten million Indians greet each other in this manner. They're the Dalits who are a proud community. They inherited an extremely difficult life. Their parents and grandparents and untold generations before them were outcasts in society. Even today they still encounter prejudice and experience helplessness.
For more than a millenium their ancestors lived as outcasts. People had a horror of touching them. Others even avoided being in their proximity as their shadow was considered polluting. If they went to school they were seated separately, If they were able to obtain work they did the dirtiest and lowest paid jobs.

Our Inspiration 2nd Part

Our Inspiration (2nd Part)
With their greeting of Jai Bhim they remind each other of their own successful revolution in 1956 for their human rights. Their cause is sacred. It inspires us here in Hungary, as we also face segregation and prejudice today. We would like to know discrimination is a thing of the past.
The dalit's story is like a fairy tale.

Our Inspiration 3rd Part

Our Inspiration (3rd Part)
Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there lived a seventeen year old untouchable boy in a big family, His name was Bhim. He was the youngest child among 14 siblings. He surpassed all of them because of his brilliant mind. A wealthy maharaj acknowledged his poverty and bestowed a scholarship on him. Bhim was aware that Indian schools were being discriminatory and practiced segregation. Therefore, he tried his fortune in London and New York where he achieved university degrees. He received the title Dr. Ambedkar when he returned home to serve his people as a barrister.

Our Inspiration 4th Part

Our Inspiration (4th Part)
Nevertheless, he was considered as an untouchable in accordance with the holy books of the Hindu religion. Therefore, he convened with his friends and publicly burned Manu's Laws, the Hindu holy script which bids the Hindu to hold the Untouchable in disdain. He became a human right fighter and his authority was constantly growing throughout the whole country. When India gained independence in 1947 he was nominated as law minister. He was entrusted with drafting the Constitution for the country. He wrote in it that discrimination is forbidden.

Our Inspiration 5th Part

Our Inspiration (5th Part)
In his old age the Dalit people addressed him with veneration as Dr. Babasaheb. He and his laws, however respected they were, he still stared frustratedly at the discrimination existing all over the country. He decided then to show the people a spiritual alternative. As our judgment is determined by our faith, he took an oath: "I was born a Hindu Untouchable. It was beyond my power to prevent that but I declare that it is within my power to refuse to live under ignoble and humiliating conditions. I solemnly assure you that I will not die a Hindu". He abjured hindu religion that had brought so much suffering and humiliation to the Untouchable people (today's Dalits).

Our Inspiration 6th Part

Our Inspiration (6th Part)
He studied thoroughly all the faiths of the world. He was seeking a religion which fitted together with reason, with modern science, and which declared liberty, fraternity and equality amongst people. He decided to follow the path of the Indian prince who lived 2500 years ago: he would be a follower of the Buddha. This was a decision of profound importance for the Dalits because the Buddha is venerated thoughout the world, and India is entitled to take pride in her great son. Dr. Ambedkar showed his astuteness: all of us can choose the way to be respected, we can change our fate for the better. Hundreds of thousands followed Ambedkar to the magnificent ceremony in Nagpur in October 1956. This was the rebirth of Buddhism in India. Babasaheb died six weeks later.

Our Inspiration 7th Part

Our Inspiration (7th Part)
Those who at that time embraced a new world view with him, they are today grandfathers and grandmothers. Their grandchildren are as numerous as the whole population of Hungary. They follow Ambedkar's example: they face even the biggest difficulties in all things - to study and to exercise their human rights.

All of the Parts in One

Our Inspiration

  • Chandrakirti: I like ur views on Bhim Jayanti... And i jst can say "Jai Bhim".....
  • Sunil Sagar: Jai Bhim Janos it's great seeing Dr. Ambedkar's follower in Hungary. The Emancipator, The god of Small. What Millions of god and goddess of Hindu's c
  • Ashwin Jangam: Struggle for liberation of Mulnivasis When freedom struggle of our country was going on, we were dual slaves. The Arya Brahmin
  • Ashwin Jangam: Jaibhim Abhinav Thank you Abhinav for putting up a superb photos of our ancestors to know our peop

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