Statement by Elizabeth Sándor-Szalay Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities on the eleventh anniversary of the murders in Tatárszentgyörgy

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.

The series of murders committed against Roma in 2008-2009 was one of the most serious hate crimes in Hungary after World War II. The run of racially motivated attacks over the course of two years resulted in six deaths, five serious injuries and countless victims, and the perpetrators also attacked women and children, too. The Tatárszentgyörgy double murder was the seventh event of the attack series.

Today, in addition to the importance of remembrance, I also find it important to point out that the appearance of racially motivated physical atrocities is usually preceded by the decline of the level of social sensitivity to hate speech. It is therefore the responsibility of all of us to find the right way of speaking about vulnerable groups that are already surrounded by prejudices. It is no coincidence that in the criminal proceedings against the murderers also the prosecutor’s charges referred to online and offline hate speech as a precursor.

Racism, xenophobia and the spread of the related hate speech, which becomes commonplace, endanger the functioning of our society in a fundamental way, and therefore it is our common duty to act against exclusionary, stigmatizing and degrading practices. I am convinced that it is in our common interest to provide comprehensive and factual information and get acquainted with our history common with our nationality communities, as well as of the culture of the nationalities, in particular, the Roma culture. I am also convinced that a high quality education can be a tool in Hungary to not only help the Roma/Gypsy communities to exercise their right to freely declare and preserve their identity, as guaranteed in the Fundamental Law, but it is also capable of fostering public discourse without hate speech and to develop and consolidate in the members of the society the values based on respect for human rights.

On the eleventh anniversary of the Tatárszentgyörgy event, it is worth paying attention to this as well!