We Belong Here Association
Roma Community Network & Human Rights NGO
Demonstartion to promote the Rule of Law in Hungary
23rd February, 2020. Budapest – “Free Courts! Free Gyöngyöspata!”
The independence of the judiciary system and the rights of minorities require more effective protection and the rule of law is under threat in Hungary. The Government’s use of Hungarian Roma as a political tool, as well as its anti-Gypsy rhetoric for generating ethnic conflicts. We underline the fact that, on the ground of anti-Gypsyism, the Hungarian government, as well as the prime minister, do not shy away from openly debating and denying the rights to justice for the Roma.
We organized a peaceful marching and protest against the Hungarian governing parties, because the current events are a clear sign that our country seriously and persistently violates Article 2 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Our aim is to preserve peace in the Hungarian society and at the same time protect the institutions of justice, and the Roma people’s rights as citizens of Hungary. However, we believe that within this domestic environment, this is no longer possible. We call for the intervention of the European Union Parliament, its Council, and the European Commission in accordance with Article 7 (TEU) and the adopted EP resolution (P9_TA-PROV(2020)0014).
Gyöngyöspata is a settlement in the province of Heves (County), with approximately 11% of the population being Roma (app. 2700 inhabitants). In terms of anti-Roma and ethnic conflicts, it is unfortunately a town notorious for such behaviour, where not only segregated education took place, but in 2012 neo-Nazi and paramilitary bodies marched for months, frightening the local Roma population, causing unrest amongst the entire population. These events were also extensively covered by the domestic and international press and media. In the Gyöngyöspata lawsuit, the Hungarian court found unlawful school segregation. Subsequently, in 2015, 62 Roma children initiated a court action for compensation, and the court ruled in their favour, a compensation of HUF 99 million. Currently, litigants are awaiting a final decision in the spring on compensation from the Supreme Judicial Body (Hungarian Kúria). In an earlier stage, the Gyöngyöspata municipality and the educational authority of the district requested the Kuria to postpone the execution of the judgment. This request was rejected. The regional parliamentary representative, Mr László Horváth (FIDESZ), who is also the former Ministerial Commissioner of the Heves Province, accused the Eger General Court, and the Debrecen Court which rendered a final judgment, and the Kuria, of being irresponsible, because the “unfair, one-sided, exaggerated and destructive decision does not bring peace but war”. In a press conference on January 9, Prime Minister Orbán Vikor also opposed this ruling, which is unprecedented in an on-going case, and in our view, seriously undermines the independence of the judiciary system. The Hungarian Prime Minister claimed that the “ethnically decisive” group of people (Roma) in Gyöngyöspata are unworthy of compensation and questioned the legitimacy of the court decision. His main message was that it is unacceptable that the children to be awarded the compensation “will receive a big amount of money without doing any work”. (Earning money without work) He also challenged the concept, notion of segregation. He justified the law breaking practice by his own prejudiced, racist statements, and he said that Roma children have lower learning abilities and stated that the court decision violated the sense of justice of the Hungarian people.
Our core work
We believe that the emancipation of Roma will determine the success of our country
Or mission is to build a new type of leadership in the Roma human rights and emancipation movement. We beleive that social change can be build on community interest and equal opportunites, also appretiation of identity.
We value the voluntary based network, which capable of meaningful cooperation on a long run, set up perspectives and by placing the self-organization of Roma on a new footing it can manifest itself in social actions. It is suitable to demonstrate the active citizenship attitude of Roma.
It can portray the Roma as a responsible, opinion-forming, acting community in local societies. We are often commentators, participants and generators of social, public events.
We do monitoring by seeking information in Hungary about human rights violations against roma and initiate advocacy actions, and investigate cases, also initiate court cases. We take the challenge to monitor the government and state institutions, and address policies, regulations and practices that violates and undermine the human rights of Roma or any minorities. We are reporting, and addressing discriminatory practices, racism, injustice and harassments faced by Roma.
Besides advocacy work we mobilize the public to protest or promote changes in public policies, regulations, practices. We organize public actions to highlight discrimination, racism, exclusion and ill treatments goes against Roma. We are working to address nationwide issues by public campaigning.
As part of the identity policy we organize Roma Pride Day annually since 7 years. The peaceful marching is a public demonstration of Roma culture, Roma heroes and promotes integrity of Roma in the domestic culture.
Memory politics has a significant impact on the present and future of a given community. Roma memory politics is also extremely deficient from the point of view of historical and cultural integrity and is based on biases, also in many aspects the representation of Roma is not based on Roma-defined attributes. Our association participates in researches and initiates memory politics events, memorial sites/ objects, and promotes the writing of memoirs texts. We also mobilize communities and other organizations to organize events and set memorial places, in order to raise the roma representation in public places and to influence the collective memory.
We provide trainings, and capacity building opportunities to our network members, and activists. We cover knowledge on human rights, advocacy and active citizenship themes.
We participate in research projects that help us to find detailed information and accurate data to our lobby and advocacy work, to promote changes and fight against human rights abuses. We puplish manuals, case studies and information notes for other NGOs, activist and political actors. Its enable them for joining and support our cases.
Our Core Team
2020 the year
we dedicated to
Since the compulsory school age for school children in Hungary has been reduced from 18 to 16, it has resulted in the dropout of more than 70,000 children nationwide. Our strong aim is to raise the compulsory school age to 18, as this measure alone will reduce the number of children leaving the system.
We Want to Study!
Public Campaign to increase the compulsory age of school age!
We are collecting signatures to demand a civil bill to restore the compulsory school age to 18 and build up a lobbying activity toward MPs and their political parties.
School curricula and textbooks
Lobby & Advocacy work to better the Roma representation!
We advocate for including better image and representation, knowledge about Roma into the textbooks of public education. Recently, the representation level of Roma in the Hungarian textbooks very low and mostly displayed in negative aspects. It is strengthening prejudice and barriers the formation of positive identity of Roma pupils.
The lack of knowledge and the prejudice presentation of Roma e.g. in history textbooks are not capable to lessen the distance and reduce the conflicts between Roma and non Roma.
Roma Pride Day
Annually organized marching and performance events to demonstrate Roma culture.
Since 7 years we organize a peaceful annual event with the participation of Roma and pro Roma people. We demonstrate the integration of Roma Culture, and promote historic figures with roma origin, and famous Roma artists. The Roma Pride Day is a great occasion to announce the actual campaign, mission of our NGO for the coming year.
The Roma Pride Day is a transnational action, and focuses on the positive aspects of Roma identity, and their contribution to the national and European values. The action goes against stereotypes and exclusion, also makes visible the Roma population and their proud identity.