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In the scrublands

August 4th, 2011

The leading left wing daily deplores the deepening ethnic segregation in Gyöngyöspata, the Hungarian village which made international headlines earlier this year, due to ethnic conflicts between Roma and non-Roma, and patrols by  extreme right wing paramilitary groups. 

Népszabadság devotes its front page editorials to Gyögyöspata for two days in a row. On Sunday, Gypsies stayed away from the traditional annual village festival, while on Monday, only Gypsy residents reported for a four months job in a pilot public works project, while non-Gypsies produced evidence of having found a job in the meantime.

As Budapost reported on several occasions, Gyöngyöspata is a negative model of racial conflicts. Most Roma are out of work, while the non-Roma majority complain about regular harassment, endemic theft and the destruction of their property. Extremist paramilitary groupings have staged a series of demonstrations, and the far right Jobbik candidate was elected Mayor in July.

“Nobody told the Roma not to attend the village festival”, Népszabadság observes, adding that “their voluntary absence is perhaps even more upsetting, because it shows that the Roma have resigned themselves to living separate lives.”

On the following day, Népszabadság carried an incredulous editorial on the reasons given by non Roma for staying away from the new pilot public works project:  nine out of twelve had miraculously found a job. Another three said they were over the required age.

Any excuse was enough: in reality, none of them felt like clearing the waste-ground in Gypsy company, which prompts the left wing paper to offer a bitter comment: “Those scrub-lands are thicker than the Government would like to think.”

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