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Why Canada should care about the Hungarian Roma

February 10, 2010
image courtesy of Elaine Pura

Image of Roma boy courtesy of Elaine Pura

With the Hungarian national elections right around the corner, the future of Hungary’s Roma communities looks dimmer than ever. And with so many of not only Hungary’s but Slovakia’s, Czech Republic’s and Poland’s Roma communities fleeing an increasingly threatening situation, I wonder where Canadian diplomacy and Canada’s refugee policy fit into the picture.

To put this issue into context, the past year and a half have been particularly troublesome for Roma families across Central and Eastern Europe. As they continue to endure a degree of racism, violence and marginalization that is even more disgraceful given the European Union’s human rights agenda, governments and citizens appear to be doing little more than turning a blind eye to this grim reality.

In Hungary, support for the ultra-right-wing Jobbik Party continues to grow; the Party likely to win the elections, FIDESZ, is doing little to distance itself from Jobbik’s members and their public defamation of Roma, Jews and other minority groups in the country. Furthermore, Hungarians recently elected a Jobbik member to the European Parliament, who replaced Hungary’s only woman and Roma Parliamentary representative.

In 2008 alone, the National Police recorded 16 incidences of violence against the Roma, 4 of which resulted in deaths.  I couldn’t find the official numbers from 2009, but media reports indicate that violence has been on the rise and is expected to increase again with warmer weather in the spring and following the elections.

It’s also alarming that after a Century plagued with hatred, war, the Holocaust, the Gulag, foreign occupation and unrelenting hardship, Hungarians (who are now members of the European Union, are “free”, and “democratic”) haven’t charged forward to ensure a peaceful and inclusive society.

So where does Canada fit into this picture?

Although some Canadian authors and journalists have covered this saga, most recently Anna Porter and Doug Saunders in The Globe and Mail, not many Canadians understand where Canada stands, and there is more than one reason for Canadians to care about this issue.

For one, Canada’s largest Roma community is understood to be in Hamilton, Ontario and is estimated at between 1,500 and 3,000 people. The vast majority of these Roma came to Canada as refugees from Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and gained extensive support from social workers and supportive community members to find jobs, affordable housing and to learn English. As the number of refugee applicants from Czech Republic increased dramatically in 2008 and 2009, the Canadian government decided to impose Visa restrictions on Czech Republic and is considering doing the same for Hungary after its spring elections.

Secondly, Hungary is now Canada’s third-largest source of refugee claimants, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The Canadian government has also argued that as member states of the European Union the Roma citizens of Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia are free to live in any of the other 26 EU countries, and thus, are not considered legitimate asylum claimants. Furthermore, current Canadian Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, told the National Post last June that he is “monitoring very closely the rising number of asylum claimants from the Czech Republic [but] we find it hard to believe that [it] is an island of persecution.”

Although, Minister Kenney did pay a visit to Hungary last year urging the Hungarian government to tighten its belt on addressing anti-Roma crimes, there is still a lot of room for Ottawa, Budapest and Brussels to collaboratively and diplomatically address this growing problem.

Now is the opportune time to take action. Waiting until April to act – after Hungary’s elections are over and when there will inevitably be an influx of refugee claimants that Canada will not be willing to accommodate – is not a responsible decision on Ottawa’s part. Now is the time for a serious conversation between the European, Hungarian and Canadian governments on a somber human rights issue that will not go away and that will only get harder and harder to deal with in the coming months. The bottom line is, that without external pressure, the new Hungarian government is even less likely than the last to take action against a growing number of racist crimes in the country.

As a country once admired for its strength in the arena of international diplomacy and human rights promotion, Canada indeed has an important role to play when it comes to the Roma minority.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. mele permalink
    July 6, 2013 7:30 am

    You don’t have to live with them, they terrorize everyone who isn’t Roma and apparently there were no resources in place to integrate them other than letting the poor and vulnerable shoulder the responsibility. They ask for so much compassion yet give none back. How does a culture remain so ignorant and self serving in 2013? They don’t want to integrate. Half of them are on the hustle on welfare with iphones and basically treat everyone poorly in a country that was open to helping them. Never has any other culture that came to Canada seeking refuge been so ignorant and intolerant to the other cultures around them. This is a European problem that they need to deal with better. Why is there First Nations peoples without clean drinking water but Hungarians with name brand clothing and shoes? They’re hustling Canada.

  2. George permalink
    May 29, 2013 9:58 am

    In Canada , for this people in the country we should provide community services,and at the same time we should review our refugee policy to improve the assessment of the refugees cases.

  3. christian permalink
    January 11, 2013 8:17 pm

    I am now a torontonian who both works as a security guard as well as lived in their same neighborhood.
    They are a crime wave.
    What Hungary and the other countries are doing to canada is the very same thing that fidell castro of cuba did to the united states in the 70s. cleaned out all their jails, and camps and put them onto boats headed for the united states.
    “their problem now, not mine”

  4. Stephen Cooper permalink
    December 14, 2012 7:44 am

    To Nelli, You make the case for the Roma. That is the kind of racist talk that has resulted in the murder of millions of people (Jews, Tutsi’s, Ibo’s, Bosnian’s, Armenians, and on and on), all over the world. Shame on you.
    Having said that, the question is whether Hungary is a safe country or not. There is little question that the Roma suffer from discrimination, however what is the standard for deciding if a country is safe? If someone were to use the same standards in Canada with respect to ttreatment of aboriginal peoples, they might conclude that Canada is not a “safe” country. There was a recent show on CBC discussing treatment of Roma in Hungary. The Roma have worse medical care, lower life expectancy, lower income, live in segregated and much poorer areas, lower education levels. Pretty much the same as North American Indians in Canada,
    I doubt that there are many countries in the world where there is not a class of people who live at a significant disadvantage. Blacks in the US, lower cast in India, gays in Uganda, Australian aboriginals, the list is endless. Does this mean that they are all eligible to move to Canada, the numbers would be in the hundreds of millions, if not billions.

    • Nelli Farkas permalink
      December 14, 2012 12:02 pm

      Dear Stephen!

      Move to Miskolc in BAZ county, adopt a gypsy family and we talk a week later, if you are still alive. They are not “aboriginals” like American Indians, who if I remember were still were hunted by the non Hungarian whites even in the XIX. century. Or i fyou just sta yin Canada , remember that each and every bogus claimant costs 55.000 Canadian dollars, plus travel costs when they are deported. Europe is open , they could go there to work, but as a British police man said”Please don’t send your criminals” here to the UK! Not Hungary, or Czech Republic, but the famous free Western Europe is struggling with them. French are paying them to return, they are regularly bulldozing their infection infested encampments. The good old Viennese were panic stricken when Hungarian gypsies killed swans of the lakes in Schonnbrunn Gardens during a night and grilled them over a camp fire!
      Watch BBC’s documentary, which is not against them “Gypsy child thieves” on youtube.
      Other than that, the “Vajda” their traditional chieftain said, that if they, the gypsies themselves don’t change their criminal lifestyle their fate is going to be doomed… not in Hungary, in the whole of Europe. What about elderly, unprotected Hungarians brutally beaten, robbed, killed, 80 years plus old women’s throat slashed for two hens, or a sausage each and every day in Hungary, the young police psychologist brutally murdered by one of her “gypsy” client, she tried to help, the 11 year old boy, brutally beaten with shavels, and buried alive….and long is the list. Yes, the victimized, working, distressed Hungarian society would like to protect itself, but the same is happening all over in Europe. Drums are loud about Hungary because Hungarian citizen Romas can travel to Canada without a visa, while some others can’t, so they just stick to France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland Netherlands, in Amsterdam at the worst brothels majority of the prostitutes are Hungarian Romas, from and around the city of Nyiregyhaza, “pimped by their family mambers.

  5. Dr.Charles L. Barsony permalink
    December 7, 2012 11:48 am

    I and my wife are both children of Hungarian immigrants to Canada of the 1920’s. Since 1968, we have made many trips to Hungary both for academic and personal reasons. We have come to understand the language and culture of the Hungarians, and have observed their many trying transitions through changes in their government over time. We keep close contact with our relatives almost on a weekly basis regarding their politics and economy. It is true that their current government (Jobbik or Fidesz), does have an extreme right group who, in a Hitler-like fashion, do profess to “marginalize” both Jews and the Roma.
    In our trips to Hungary we have observed that there are a group of Roma individuals who have achieved a great deal of success in the arts, more specifically music. These individuals have become an integral part of Hungarian society, and are very highly regarded by Hungarians. Unfortunately, there is a large segment of the Roma population in Hungary that refuses to become integrated into that part of society which produces the means by which that society can survive physically, culturally, and with a reasonable living standard for all. Further, the meaning of education for their children somehow escapes them. The old ways are better it seems.
    According to a recent television coverage of the Roma in Toronto, that pattern as imported from Hungary is being repeated in that city. Welfare is a wonderful concept, but it can be misused, very easily as we see it here. We believe that our Canadian Immigration Department must define more closely what is meant by those who are truly refugees from a country that has a despotic government.
    Now as to the Jews. At the outset, I must say that my wife and I are not Jewish. In Hungary, as I mentioned before, the Right of Fidesz is marginalizing the Jews. If they were of a rational sort, they (the Rightists), would have to have recognized that the Hungarian Jews have always contributed to education, both in teaching and the education of their children. They have contributed to Hungarian culture in the form of music, both in production and performance. They have contributed to Hungarian wealth in the form of industry and banking.
    So what is their problem with the Jews ?
    Here in Canada, we have many Jewish friends. What do we see ? We see a group of people who have an engrained wish to see their children properly educated whether it is in the arts, in the professions (specifically, the sciences, medicine, law, and engineering), or teaching. I see a group of people who have lived through undeniably diabolical stresses
    of World War Two, and some of those stresses continue to modern times..
    Witness the numbers of Nobel Prize winners that are Jews. Some of them were Hungarian Jews. Before, and after WWII, there was no question about Jewish immigrants coming to either Canada or the USA, The problems in Europe were self evident
    In conclusion, if I were to take the long view of Hungarian politics at this moment, I would see the extreme Right as shaving off the best and the worst of their population. Thus, with the full agreement of the current Hungarian government, the Romas are sent to wherever they find a safe and compliant environment. This pattern is also repeated in other countries in Europe. Hungary is not alone.
    Evidently, that reduces our Canadian resources to those Canadians who are in need of those resources due to the unfortunate financial times we are currently facing.
    So what is the answer ?


    • Nelli Farkas permalink
      December 8, 2012 3:55 pm

      Dear Mr Barsony!

      A very well phrased essay from a descenent of Hungarian immigrants. However , let me to bring up a few fine touches to the picture what is projected about Hungary by the international media, and it’s local affiliate the Hungarian left liberal media. “Audietur est altera pars”
      “Let’s listen to the other party” as the wise old Latin saying goes.
      Though the Fidesz government is not something we can really love,we have to honor the fact that they were elected with a 2/3 majority! And obviously there was a reason for it. They will win in 2014, they won’t have 2/3. Jobbik is in opposition, becoming more and more popular, regardless we like the fact or no, there is a reason, they are becoming more and more popular. Fidesz, but even Jobbik is far from being so called “fascist”/ fasces is old Roman symbol , a bundle of reed bound together, representing strength of the community. and military/ Fidesz tries to be a “nacionalistic” party, they try at least to represent Hungarian national interest over supranational institutions, that’s why that black picture is being projected about them. They have lot’s of Roma integration programs in place, what mainstream Hungarians are paying for. But if they don’t want to be integrated members, that’s just all wasted resorce. As mainstream Hungarians are also getting poorer and poorer, jobless, many of them forced to leave the country to go to work somewhere else / and not to live on benefits/, those Hungarians also are more and more anxious about providing for gypsies, who do not contribute to the society. I guess it’s verysimple to understand. Thos gypsies, who are presenting themselves as refugees in Canada, with seasoned lies, could do exactly the same, could go to work to any of the EU countries. But they prefer the Canadian business. I am sure you already know why…. becausethey have free money , they don’t have to work, not even a single day to be eligible to collect benefits. In the UK at leastone year continous employment is required, and that’s too bitter for those “innocent” souls. Idon’t want to write details about their social benefit, child, benefit, tax credit fraud they run in the UK, not even mentioning their operation in the Netherlands in organized prostitution when they pimp and sell their own mothers, wifes and daughters, and I don’t want to mention human trafficking in Canada, metal stealing, and check fraud , which according to their activity is being referred to as “Hungarian check fraud” soiling the picture of Hungarian achievement of our forefathers.

      I guess, you don’t read anddon’t hear about everyday violent and brutal crime gypsies do commit against Hungarians… old women’s houses broken into, their pantries raided, their chicken stolen, their grain stolen, they are lucky if they are not raped, beaten, throat leshed etc…you don’t hear that gypsy parents do “hit” on schoo, teachers, they go to the shool assaulting, occassionally heavily injuring, or killing teachers. You don’t hear how much danger and damage is done when they do metal “recycling”.. railway strtetches are literally being stolen, cemetery soul bells, outdoor sculptures, art pieces made of metal fall victims of their diligent habit. And this is only an “appetizer” what Hungarian society has to endure day by day.
      But the glass is becoming full, Hungarians who are facing difficulties are starting to do something to protect their mere lives and property. I think in the land of the brave and the free, it is absolut legal to shoot intruderstresspassing and threatening someones’s life and property. When Hungarians try to do the same, they are labelled as racists, fasicts, segregasionists etc….. Why????? Should they put up with this brutal wave of crime, should they subdue, let intruders to take their belongings, rape their wifes and daughters, kill their mothers, grandmothers??? That’s what the media wants them to do. But they , for a miraculous reason rather decided to protect themselves.
      Movement is civilian, not government organized. The more this crimanal gypsy society is let loose, the more intense resistence is going to be. They had 500 years to integrate, in good old times, when they were segregated, there were no real tensions, there were no rubbing hars surfaces, like now.
      If Hungarian society is completely trashed and run down,there will be no more WORKERS, TO PROVIDE FOR THEM! WHAT will they do then???? … Simple: they will turn against each other for the remaining basic resorces.

      Their own “vajda” thinking realistically said that if they the gypsies don’t change their current lifestyle, finally they will be chased out of all countries, ultimately they will be persecuted and phisically liquitated. Western Europen governmnets /Italy, Spain, France/ are regularly bulldozing their encampents, collecting them sending them home etc….while some of their politicians are beating the drum about Hungary being “racist” And they have been having them only for the last 10 years, Canad , too, and now Canada wants to change immigration law, mainly because of the ‘great deeds” of gypsies.
      Maybe they are not always innocent… maybe they are also responsible sometimes for certain things, maybe people living around them do have a justified reason when they don’t want to have them anymore.

      So this is the other side of the coin in a nutshell.
      Very simply, the same applies for the Jewish problem, the growing social discomfort is not fueled by the government, at all, it just keeps building up in the society itself, but this is true now for the rest of Europe, check out the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Spain and read about their history in Europe,They have been chased out from all major countries and kings and emperors and monarchs, remember Spain, Austria, Italy in this regard. Not even mentioning Russia, Hungary rather used to be a safe heaven for them with the most integrated secular Jews.
      For reference, watch BBC documentary, “Gypsy child thives” available on youtube.

  6. Steve permalink
    October 18, 2012 10:52 am

    The issue here is that European Union has the money and the legislation to protect their own citizens.
    European Union is a democracy abiding human rights.
    Heck, European Union was even awarded the Peace Nobel Prize this year.
    I do not understand the lengthy debates… there are two things:
    – send political asylum seekers from European Union back to European Union RIGHT AWAY
    -or, keep them here and grant asylum … BUT … send the bill to European Union and file complaints to United Nations and International Court at Hague against European Union, list European Union countries as rogue, racist countries and ask UN for economic sanctions against them.

  7. J4ck permalink
    October 4, 2012 1:24 pm

    I’m a Canadian currently living in Europe and I have seen the Roma in action, Europeans are grateful that Canada is taking them in, they actually would send them all over if we accepted them. Trust me if there is one Roma in Canada then that’s one too many. I know of cases were the government gave them homes and they raised pigs in the bathtubs. They make their living from stealing and begging. They will not work for a living.
    I would love to see all those defending the Roma live with them for a year and hear their opinions afterwords.

    • Nelli Farkas permalink
      December 12, 2012 6:49 pm

      Kudos!!!!!! Yes, that’s what we also say in Hungary to those who protect them /they are being paid for their activity/ to take a gypsy a family home, live with them for a month, and talk afterwards. We have been having them for 500 years , enough time to integrate. When they were segregated /for 450 years/ and could not enter into the ‘realm” of Hungarians, there were far more less problems. The West is only starting to have them to learn about their true nature.. and after a couple of years they are screaming out loud. Possible good solution would be to pay them benefits, and subsidies not to have children, or have only one. No subsidy with two or more children. We could save lots of money on further benefits and criminal costs. Usually they have so many children because the more children they have, the more child benefit they get. This is a suicidal policy for mainstream society.

  8. George permalink
    June 3, 2012 8:10 am

    According to a refugee board spokesperson, 1,446 of the 1,600 claims in the first six months of this year were made in Toronto, and many likely originated at Pearson airport.

    Sandy Mangat, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, said refugee claimants in Canada are eligible for various levels of assistance, as is true of all other applicants. A single Hungarian Roma, for example, would be eligible for a maximum of $592 monthly for basic needs and shelter, while a sole parent with one child under 12 or a couple with two children under 12 are eligible for $922 and $1,124 respectively.

  9. justice seeker permalink
    January 26, 2012 9:02 am

    The situation of Roma is very rough throughout Europe. This article gives a view of Roma rights struggles in Serbia: Amnesty International also has some excellent resources on Roma rights:

    • Nelli Farkas permalink
      December 12, 2012 6:57 pm

      Dear Justice seeker!
      Please approach this issue pragmatically. Please adopt a big gypsy family with grandma, grandpa, parents and 6-7 kids /”Purde” in gypsy language/ Live with them for a month, and if fafter a month you still have any of your belongings, your lifestock not killed for dinner, your fruit trees are not rooted up to pick a few apples, your house is not trashed, your roof tiles and bricks are still at palace, metal parts are not sold at a junk yard, your daughter and wife not raped, mother’s throat is not slashed.. than you are the lucky jackpot winner, and you can have all of them!!!!!

  10. October 11, 2010 1:27 am

    “the new Hungarian government is even less likely than the last to take action against a growing number of racist crimes in the country.”

    OMG. In a way, you are right. There are racist crimes commited in Hungary, and those are commited by Romas against Hungarians.

    The problem is that they choose not to work, not to study and not to accept the ways of the majority of the population.
    Now Canadians are getting to realize that the reason they go to Canada is not because they are disciminated here, but because they want to leech on their social system, something they have been doing for many many years in Hungary.

  11. anon permalink
    October 10, 2010 10:13 am

    Hmm. We have them in the US and they are con arist here. A whole family of Marks a common Gypsy name was just arrested after years of them getting away with fraud. They have Irish Travellers that do the same con jobs. Tinkers and the like. Very charming people but not honest. Most here never make it past grade six due to the culture and marry young. It is a mindset that needs to be changed. Racism has nothing to do with it. I am a minority and have done quite while. I met a person in Ont that is probably a gypsy, denied they are one but probably is. You can lead a horse to water but cannot make them drink and wherever the Romas go they are hard and stubborn and will not change. from India where they are form and Turkey no one wants them. The laws seem to matter little to them.

  12. reader permalink
    April 30, 2010 1:22 am


    “Hungarians did reach out. We tried. THEY failed. Deliberately.”

    I am also Hungarian and I agree with you. I still live in Hungary and I have exactly the same opinion like you: we tried hard, but this is not a rich country, we have our own problems as well… It is not easy to deal with peole who are not willing to go to school and get some education – do Canadians know that many of Hungarian gipsies don’t even finish elementary education?

    (And it is not about money – because school here is absolutely free…)

  13. reader permalink
    April 30, 2010 1:09 am

    Gypsies go to Canada – well, because they can live there much better than in Eastern Europe. Canada gives them aid, so they will have an easier life. As EU citizens, they could go to another, much tolerant European country easily, let’s say UK, there are many immigrants from around the world (Middle Easterns, Indians, Afrikans) – but the problem is that the UK does not give them aid. So the keyword is “aid” and not “racism”.

  14. casualreader permalink
    April 18, 2010 9:01 am

    Hey andie, I enjoyed reading your comment and I couldn’t agree more with you’ve stated.
    Canada didn’t face the roma problem at a large scale like some of the EU countries did. It’ll be sad to happen, but this country will have to go through it’s own experience first and then find out the truth..

  15. andie permalink
    April 11, 2010 1:55 am

    As a Hungarian who witnessed the evolution of this problem growing up in the seventies, eighties in Hungary – and living abroad for a decade now – I would like to offer you a different perspective.
    Roma problem is not new and exists everywhere where Romas live. It’s been a problem for at least a century now. Roma is a culture and a lifestyle, not colour or race – as they like to present it.
    Hungary has a huge Roma problem because the system was too tolerant. No kidding.
    A century and so ago Romas did have a unique place in society. Their migrating caravan lifestyle made them to take up jobs that weren’t in constant high demand at smaller village communities, such as tinker, horse breaker… to mention a few. They could keep their lifestyle (no commitments, hard work, settling down) and still making enough money to provide for their families. Come industrialization and urbanization, they lost their main source of income.
    And here comes the problem.
    They were not willing to change their lifestyles.
    I grew up in the seventies and eighties in a small mining town, where 40% of the population was Roma. Town got the nickname Little Chicago. Crime level extremely high, stabbings were a daily occurrence, policemen were afraid to go into Roma ghettoes…, arson happened to be great entertainment for their thuggish youths whether it was throwing little torches through open windows or turning your hair on fire… Trust me, living in a community with a larger Roma population was like living in constant terror. Under 14 it wasn’t safe to go to the streets after dark.
    In communism having a permanent job was a right and also a requirement. Your ID was a little book, and your employer was always listed in it. You didn’t have a job – you had to go to jail. Now, jails were full of gypsies. Now, our “minority program” in the seventies was hailed all over Europe. I don’t know if there was any country that did more trying to integrate them into modern society. Our town built brand new condominum complexes and moved them into flats that Hungarian families had to wait sometimes a decade to get into (everything was owned by the government, so you went on a list, whether you applied for a home or car or job…) Romas came first. They got their new homes, kept pigs in the bathtub, chickens in the balconies, used up all the hardwood flooring as firewood in the winter, then the doors and the window frames… in a year those condo complexes were destroyed. There were so many social workers unleashed on them who tried for decades to teach them the basics of social behaviour. Romas weren’t interested. I’m speaking first hand. I grew up with them. I attended school with them. Hungarians did reach out. We tried. THEY failed. Deliberately. Did you see them sobbing on TV? Go to the welfare places where they are bullying the populace, go to villages where they terrorize the majorities. One family moves into a one bedroom home, in a month twenty people live there. I had kids in my class who had no idea that the older female picking them up after school was their mother or sister.
    The problem with those “minority programs” is that they handle the certain minority as victims. They make them believe, they are. They keep them on welfare – but hard to pay for all the alcohol and cigarettes from the free money, so the part time job of stealing and robbery is kinda necessity….
    Hungary was so proud of this minority program for decades, politicians played blind and deaf. Problems were shovelled under the carpet. You had to accept that they came first. You had to accept that they took your things. You had to accept that they took advantage of the social welfare system – big time.
    And they are always, always the victims. It is a lie. It works for them. They know full well how to game the system.
    Show me an European country where there’s no gypsy problem, whatever name you use, they are the same, and it originates from their culture. I personally knew a guy who tried to break out. Did well in school, went to college, and moved back into his old village tried to teach his Roma community. In two years, he gave up, moved in to a no Roma village, did well… Hungarians aren’t racist people. One dogma in communism was this every human equal thing. Roma isn’t a race. It is Culture. It is Behaviour and a jobless, criminal existence most of the time. That’s what you see here. Romas gaming the system for all its worth meanwhile playing the victim cards. They’ve been doing it for generations now. It is an industry by itself. Don’t be fooled.
    And now, we Hungarians who live here for many years, are useful and productive members of the Canadian society are suffering. There’s no problem with Hungarians or Czechs or Slovakians… no, no, the problem is with Hungarian, Czech… etc ROMAS. It is organized crime. Organized here, organized back at home. They do not work. They are here to game the system and the gypsy maffia figured it out how to do it the most effectively long time ago.
    What I suggest for Canada, go back to the old refugee system, the one before the early nineties and the one Australia and New Zealand applies now. You can ask for refugee status – from outside the country. Make the procedure short but through, make a decision, and NEVER put them on welfare.
    They world beyond North America and Europe is a different place. People living in poverty and corrupt societies have a different moral. Life isn’t about just making everyone happy. Life is about survival. It hurts immigrants like us, who came here, worked hard, find out place in our communities…
    I’m getting harassed over being a Hungarian. I’m getting emails with those articles attached.
    It hurts, because I saw the realities of the situation back at home. The money spent on this certain minority. The enormous efforts, those opportunities provided for them… and its still the same old music. They are the victims.
    You know what? No. I’m not afraid to speak the truth. We are the victims. We, hard working Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and… guess what? Canadiens. You guys are taken for a ride.
    Humanitarian Agencies. Blah. They are interested in the money that flies to them after these sob stories. It doesn’t mean, there aren’t any atrocities toward gypsies. The sad fact is, there are more toward the people who live with them.
    Every coin has two sides. The other side of the gypsy problem is a lot uglier than the one here. Anyone who would like to see the truth should move into a community with a gypsy minority population for a year… and then report.
    The truth isn’t told in articles.

  16. nmboudin permalink
    March 4, 2010 11:07 pm

    Thanks for the fantastic post. I am so angry at the Hungarians who have tolerated if not supported the rise of Jobbik. The great-grandparents of the Roma suffered along with my great-aunts and uncles in Nazi-occupied Europe, and are still enduring abuse from the local thugs.
    Canada is still recovering from a very scary recession, and so I do not expect our leaders to do the right thing and open its doors to a lot of very poor people. So, the alternative is lean on Hungary is now before the elections. The only tool I can think of is sanctions, and the problem with those is that they create further economic hardship in the country they are aimed at, which amps up the abuse of its weakest citizens.
    I wonder what else could be done. What can Canada do to create an affect on a country that permits the emboldening of a fascist party?

  17. andy lavia permalink
    February 15, 2010 5:20 pm

    i must admit,this is the first time i’m exposed to what’s happening in Hungary. I will do some follow up reading on the issue and engage you further on the topic. Very informative though

  18. February 15, 2010 3:53 pm

    Indeed Canada should step it up. Thank you for sharing, informative and well expressed blog. Out of curiosity, do you happen to know which countries are the top two refugee claimants?

  19. reneethewriter permalink
    February 11, 2010 3:58 pm

    Thank you for this piece and comment – I have long been interested in The Roma – and as someone born in Pune, India, feel a kinship that I cannot quite explain, aside from the obvious. I hope you will write more about this community and their centuries old struggle for human rights. Once, many years ago, Canada’s Joe Schlesinger for CBC, aired a T.V. special about The Roma, in the Czech Republic. The images from that broacast have stayed with me a long time. As a poet, the literary image/mis/representation of The Roma as “the other” has become an interest of mine. Look forward to your response and welcome to this space.

  20. February 11, 2010 12:01 am

    As an expat living in Budapest who has recently returned from spending several months in Toronto, and as someone who cares deeply about both countries, I am glad to see that this issue is getting some attention in Canada.

    There is an increasingly suffocating climate in Hungary affecting the Roma, sexual minorities and the Jewish community, and the likely result of the upcoming April elections is going to do little to improve matters. A few days ago, the Roma Holocaust Memorial in Budapest was vandalised for the third time. A group of us are gathering to clean it up on Saturday, but this will be nothing but a drop of light housekeeping in a broader context of increasing physical violence, indifference, ignorance and lack of dialogue between political elites, institutions, communities and individuals in this beautiful, frustrating country.

    It is ultimately a domestic issue that will need to be addressed and solved from within. And it is not Canada’s (or even the EU’s) responsibility to magically resolve it by doing what we do best -throwing money at the problem and draw communiques. But I believe that a vigorous, open stand from both Ottawa and the broader Canadian society will help enormously towards giving Hungarian Roma (and those who believe in the ideals of a truly open society) the confidence they need to stand up not as victims, but as stakeholders in a new political climate.

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