Hungary: Information on the Hungarian Self Defence Movement (Magyar Önvédelmi Mozgalom, MÖM) in the Edeleny area, including when they were founded, objective and activities, relationship with the government and police, areas of operation, including operations within and around Edeleny; prejudice of authorities in Edeleny (2014-2016) [HUN105501.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Hungarian Self-Defence Movement

According to the Hungarian news portals Hír24 and the Budapest Beacon, the For a Better Future Hungarian Self-Defence, led by Atilla László, was disbanded by a court in Szeged on 8 October 2014 (The Budapest Beacon 8 Oct. 2014; Brussels Institute Oct. 2014, 16). The Athena Institute, a Budapest-based research organization that studies extremism and terrorism (Athena Institute n.d.), reports that members of the organization, which "was explicitly founded to 'protect the Hungarians' from 'Gypsy criminality' and 'Gypsy terror'," acted "like gendarmes" in Roma settlements and carried out "hostile propaganda campaigns against the Roma community" (ibid. 21 July 2014). The Szeged court ruled that "the right of assembly may not be exercised at the expense of the rights and freedoms of others," noting that the group's patrolling activities intimidated the Roma population in Hungary (The Budapest Beacon 8 Oct. 2014). According to the Athena Institute, the organization had "several units" across Hungary (Athena Institute 21 July 2014).

An article in the Budapest Beacon reports that, following the disbandment of the For a Better Future Hungarian Self Defence, László announced the establishment of a new organization called the Hungarian Self-Defense Movement [Magyar Önvédelmi Mozgalom - MÖM] in October 2014 (16 Oct. 2016). Citing information from the Hungarian News Agency MTI and the Athena Institute, The Brussels Institute [1] describes the 18 October 2014 inauguration ceremony of the Hungarian Self-Defense Movement as follows:

Attila László said to about 100 sympathizers…that…it was not the revival of the disbanded organization but they would not give up “their fight for Hungarians”, and that was why he had initiated the foundation of MÖM. Mr László claimed that they are the last line of defence that provides a slightest hope for Hungarians and should it be needed, they would protect their country with the required physical force. Participants were typically wearing black or camouflage clothing and were flying national, Árpád striped and Székely flags. (Brussels Institute Oct. 2014, 28)

Conversely, a 2007 article by the Hungarian Spectrum, an English-language portal that publishes daily analyses of news from Hungary (Hungarian Spectrum n.d.), notes that MÖM was founded in 2005 by Dr. Atilla Kakuk, a veterinarian (ibid. 19 Oct. 2007). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. According to the same source, MÖM is "almost indistinguishable from other radical groups" (ibid.). Furthermore, a 2013 report by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), a German social-democratic political foundation (FES n.d.), categorises MÖM as a social movement organization with racist or xenophobic right-wing ideology (ibid. 2013, 14).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of Autonómia Foundation, a Hungarian NGO that supports civil society development in Hungary and works alongside both Roma and non-Roma organizations (Autonómia Foundation n.d.), stated that MÖM is a "right-wing extremist" organization and added that "it is very hard to differentiate it from other semi-illegal, aggressive ones with similar names." (ibid. 8 Apr. 2016). The representative added that MÖM was "mainly active in Northern Hungary" (ibid.). However, according to an article in the New Eastern Europe, an English-language magazine dedicated to Central and Eastern European affairs based in Krakow, Poland (New Eastern Europe, n.d.), in the summer of 2015, members of MÖM "dressed in combat gear" and patrolled the village of Ásotthalom [located near the Serbian border (The New York Times 17 Sept. 2015)] "in a bid to catch illegal immigrants and… hand them over to the police" (New Eastern Europe, 18 Jan. 2016)

Information on the relationship of MÖM with the government and the police could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Situation in Edeleny

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary (AJBH), a government body whose mission is to ensure "the effective, coherent and most comprehensive protection of fundamental rights" in Hungary (Hungary n.d.b), stated that they had not conducted investigations on the MÖM in Edeleny and were not able to locate information on the activities of the group in that location in public sources (ibid. 7 April 2016). The same source noted however that in 2011, the AJBH carried out an investigation on incidents in Gyöngyöspata, a village in northern Hungary located approximately 140 kilometres from Edeleny (ibid.). According to the report of the investigation, the For a Better Future Hungarian Self Defence carried out patrols to intimidate the Gyöngyöspata Roma population in March 2011 and later "move[d] to another settlement to provoke conflicts between Roma and non-Roma inhabitants" (ibid. 25 May 2011).

The representative of Autonómia Foundation stated that he did not have any information on the activities of MÖM in Edeleny (Autonómia Foundation 8 Apr. 2016). Similarly, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Director of the Foundation of Subjective Values [Szubjektiv Értékek Alapítvány], a Hungarian NGO whose programming relates to, amongst other subjects, poverty, anti-racism and diversity (Foundation of Subjective Values n.d.), stated that, according to information received from a Roma rights activist in Edeleny, "from time to time they see anti-Roma groups, but only occasionally and without real atrocities" (ibid. 12 Apr. 2016). However, the Director added that most Roma in Edeleny live in poverty, experience discrimination in work and education and are faced with the same issues of "racist attitudes and covered discrimination" as other Roma in the region (ibid.) According to the same source, "it is hard to name any real, direct threat, while everyday racism exists for sure" (ibid.)

Sources indicate that in September 2009, Oszkar Molnar [Oszkár Molnár], the mayor of Edeleny made a speech claiming that Roma women were deliberately harming their unborn children in order to receive higher benefits from the state (ibid.; ERRC et al N.d., 14; US 17 Nov. 2010). According to sources, Molnár remains Edeleny's current mayor (Hungary n.d.a; Foundation of Subjective Values 12 Apr. 2016). According to the Director of the Foundation of Subjective Values, the mayor has been silent on Roma issues since 2010 (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] Brussels Institute was founded by the Action and Protection Foundation [Tett és Védelem Alapítvány - TEV], a Hungarian Jewish NGO working against the spread of anti-Semitism in Hungary (TEV n.d.)

References

Athena Institute. 21 July 2014. "For a Better Future Hungarian Self Defence." <http://www.athenainstitute.eu/en/map/olvas/58#read> [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016]

_____. N.d. "About the Institute." < http://www.athenainstitute.eu/en/the_institute/> [Accessed 29 Mar. 2016]

Autonómia Foundation. 8 April 2016. Correspondence from representative to the Research Directorate.

_____. N.d. "About Us." <http://Autonómia .hu/en/about> [Accessed 11 Apr. 2016]

Brussels Institute. October 2014. Ildikó Barna. Anti-Semitic Crimes and Incidents Report- October 2014. [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

The Budapest Beacon. 16 October 2014. Zoltán Kovács."Banned Jobbik Paramilitary Group To Regroup Yet Again!" <http://budapestbeacon.com/news-in-brief/banned-jobbik-paramilitary-group-regroup-yet> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

_____. 8 October 2014. Ádám Lestyánszky. "Szeged Court Bans Association For A Better Future." <http://budapestbeacon.com/news-in-brief/szeged-court-bans-association-better-future> [Accessed 8 Apr. 2016]

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), Chance for Children Foundation and the

Hungarian Helsinki Committee Concerning Hungary. N.d. Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre, Chance for Children Foundation and the

Hungarian Helsinki Committee Concerning Hungary. For Consideration by the United Nations Committee at Its 100th Session. <http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/ngos/ERRC-Hungary_HRC100.pdf> [Accessed 8 Apr. 2016]

Foundation of Subjective Values. 12 April 2016. Correspondence from the Director to the Research Directorate.

_____. N.d. "About." <http://www.szubjektiv.org/> [Accessed 6 Apr. 2016]

Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES). 2013. Edited by Ralf Melzer and Sebastian Serafin. Right-Wing Extremism in Europe. Country Analyses,Counter-Strategies and Labor-Market Oriented Exit Strategies. <http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/dialog/10031.pdf> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

_____. N.d. "Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) – Foundation for Social Democracy!" <http://www.fesdc.org/about/friedrich-ebert-stiftung/> [Accessed 11 Apr. 2016]

Hungary. 7 April 2016. Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary (AJBH). Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

_____. 24 May 2011. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities. The Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the National and Ethnic Minority Rights on the Incidents Happened in Gyöngyöspata in March, 2011. <http://kisebbsegiombudsman.hu/index.php?action=print&item=688> [Accessed 7 Apr. 2016]

_____. N.d.a. "Képviselo Testület." <http://edeleny.hu/onkormanyzat/onkormanyzat_kepvtest/> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

_____.N.d.b. Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary (AJBH). "About the Office." <https://www.ajbh.hu/en/web/ajbh-en/about-the-office> [Accessed 8 Apr. 2016]

Hungarian Spectrum. 19 October 2007. "The Right is Getting Ready for October 23–Fidesz, the Black Guard, and MÖM." <http://hungarianspectrum.org/2007/10/19/the-right-is-ge/> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

_____. N.d. "About." <http://hungarianspectrum.org/about/> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

New Eastern Europe. 18 January 2016. Arthur de Liedekerke. "The Rise of Paramilitary Groups in Central and Eastern Europe." <http://neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1862-the-rise-of-paramilitary-groups-in-central-and-eastern-europe> [Accessed 6 Apr. 2016]

_____. N.d. "About New Eastern Europe." <http://neweasterneurope.eu/about-nee> [Accessed 6 Apr. 2016]

The New York Times. 17 September 2015. Robert Mackey. "Hungarian Mayor Threatens Migrants in Homemade Action Movie." <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/world/europe/hungarian-mayor-threatens-migrants-in-homemade-action-movie.html?_r=0> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2016]

TEV [Action and Protection Foundation]. N.d. "Monitoring." <http://tev.hu/en/publikaciok-2/> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

United States (US). 17 November 2010. Department of State. "Hungary." International Religious Freedom Report 2010. <http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2010/148942.htm> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2016]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Athena Institute; Bódva-völgyi Közéleti Roma Nok (Bódva Valley Association of Roma Women in Public Life); Budapest Institute; European Roma Grassroots Organizations Network; European Roma Rights Centre; Hungarian Civil Liberties Union; Hungary- Constitution Protection Office, County Council of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities, Magyar Önvédelmi Mozgalom, Ministry of Interior, National Police, Roma Initiatives Office; Mayor of Kazincbarcika; National Roma Self-Government in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén; Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Debrecen University; Research Fellow, Central European University; United Nations – Human Rights Council, Refworld.

Internet sites, including: Council of Europe; ecoi.net; European Union – Fundamental Rights Agency, European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee, European Parliament; Hungarian Helsinki Committee; Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Romedia Foundation.