27 February 2009 – The independent NGO Chachipe, formerly Romano Them, expressed its outrage at the killing, last Monday, of a 27-year-old Roma man and his 5-year-old son, in what appears as a series of targeted attacks against Roma in Hungary. The organisation is particularly shocked by the perfidy of the assailants who first set the house of the family on fire and then shot at them when they sought protection outside. According to the media, two more children of the family were injured in the fire.

Even if the organisation acknowledged, that it was too early to draw definite conclusions about the perpetrators of the crime and calling for a swift and unbiased police enquiry, it also said that it was inevitable not to draw a link between the recent murders of Roma and the strengthening of the radical right in Hungary. Less than two weeks ago, after the killing of a member of the national handball team by a man identified as of Roma origin, members of the neo-fascist Magyar Garda announced retaliation against Roma.

Chachipe expressed serious concerns at recent statements by representatives of the Hungarian political elite, referring to Roma as criminals. Comparing the situation with Italy, whose Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has recently allowed the creation of civil guards, and where the mayor of Rome, a proponent of the neo-fascist Allianza Nazionale, wants to closely supervise Roma settlements and prohibit visits after dark, Chachipe said that it was impossible not to be worried by the course of these developments.

“Roma have not forgotten what happened in the 1930s and 1940s,” the organisation said. “Reminiscences are vivid, especially after the new upsurge of violence and the pogroms in the 1990s and the ethnic cleansing of Roma in Kosovo.”

The organisation called for a reopening of the investigations into the ten unresolved murders of Roma in Hungary, in 2008. It further called on political representatives and public personalities in Europe to speak out against racism against Roma. It also called for a regular monitoring of racism and hate crime against Roma, and said that this could be the task of the European Fundamental Rights Agency or the OSCE.

In its annual human rights report, which was published on Wednesday, the US Department of State noted an increase of societal violence against Roma in some countries, including Italy and Hungary. Violence against Roma became more frequent and more lethal, the report says.