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article imageRumania: 20,000 Hungarian minority members call for rule of law

By Christopher Szabo     Sep 1, 2012 in World
Sepsiszentgyorgy - An estimated 30,000 ethnic Hungarians are demonstrating for basic civil rights in the Rumanian town of Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy following the confiscation of the Székely-Mikó Secondary School and the arrest of two ethnic Hungarian officials.
According to the Hungarian news agency, MTI, as well as other reports such as this one on Erdély ma in English, the background of the current stand-off is that the Rumanian state always dragged its feet on restitution of property taken by the Communists. By contrast, churches belonging to the Romanian ethnic group were given back quickly, and new ones were even built.
The reason the confiscation of church schools and other property matters is that until the Nineteenth Century, churches in the region were responsible for most schooling. Also, Transylvania Province contains a large number of Hungarian Reformed and Evangelical church members, where the church is an integral part of the community.
Even worse, two members of the original restitution committee, which wound up its work in 2002, have been arrested, according to the American Hungarian Federation (AHF). Tellingly, of the three members charged, Attila Markó and Tamás Marosán have been sentenced to three years in prison, while ethnic Rumanian member Silviu Vlim has received a suspended sentence.
Not only Hungarians, but also members of the Jewish community have faced reluctance in property restitution from various Rumanian governments.
The AHF said in an internet statement:
It only serves to further stall, and in this instance reverse, the lawful restitution of church properties and discriminate against Rumania’s Hungarian minority... We are concerned that twenty-two years after the collapse of Communism, restitution of Hungarian communal properties, including churches, has been proceeding at a slow pace so that a significant number of the affected properties have yet to be returned to their rightful owners.
Digital Journal is breaking this news item, as mainstream media, including the BBC (whom I contacted) CNN, Russia Today and others have shied away from covering the demonstration.
Also, the European Commission told Duna TV Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding copped out of the fray. The same European Commission that was so passionately concerned about democracy in neighbouring Hungary, said in a letter to the RMDSZ or Democratic Alliance of Rumanian Hungarians, according to an English-language broadacast of Duna TV
“The European Commission has no powers to intervene in restitution issues in Rumania”
This follows an appeal to the EU by the RMDSZ.
Organisers said there were about 30,000 people at the demonstration who came from all over Transylvania Province in Rumania. A sympathy demonstration was held in Budapest, the Hungarian capital.
Speakers at the rally said there was no longer a Rule of Law in Rumania, when people could be arrested for taking part in legitimate restitution of stolen property. There are approximately 1,5 million Hungarians in Transylvania, which was annexed to Rumania by a decision of the victorious Allied Powers in 1918 after WWI. The US Congress rejected the decision at the time.
Along with the RMDSZ, The Transylvanian Hungarian Popular Party and the Hungarian Civic Party took part, as well as delegations from the churches and Hungarians from as far away as the United States.
More about rumania, Minority, Transylvania, Human Rights
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