Wiesenthal Centre to 47 Member State Council of Europe: "Hungary is Sinking into Abyss of Hate; Establish Commission of Enquiry to Stem Fascist Virus"

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Wiesenthal Centre to 47 Member State Council of Europe: "Hungary is Sinking into Abyss of Hate; Establish Commission of Enquiry to Stem Fascist Virus"

Paris, 7 September 2009

In a letter to Council of Europe Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Samuel Zbogar (also Foreign Minister of Slovenia), and Acting Secretary General, Madam Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, stressed that, "As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War, its lessons are being defied in the very locales and countries of the Holocaust. The Council of Europe (CoE) was founded to apply those lessons, and its current membership of 47 states are parties to its Conventions against racism and for the defence of human rights."

The letter focussed on one of those member-states – Hungary – where antisemitic, Romaphobic and homophobic incidents increase exponentially, as witnessed by this weekend's invasion of the Budapest Jewish quarter. Spilling over from an attack on a Gay Pride parade, some 500 neo-Nazis and Skinheads set a fire in the Ghetto and attacked identifiably Jewish Hungarian and foreign tourists visiting the Budapest Jewish Cultural Festival.

Samuels noted that, "though officially banned, the Magyar Guard – descended from the Arrow Cross militia which assisted the Germans in deporting over 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz – still marches openly. Their political party allies, Jobbik, are seated in the European Parliament."

On 5 March 2009, the Centre had expressed outrage to Hungarian President, Laszlo Solyom, on anti-Roma pogroms. On 10 August, it had raised Hungary's Gypsophobic and antisemitic violence with newly elected European Parliament President, Jerzy Buzek. Samuels lamented that, "Meanwhile, Hungary is ineluctably sinking ever deeper into an abyss of hate, in violation of its national commitments to the Council of Europe."

The Centre – as an NGO in consultative status to the Council of Europe – urged the following intervention:

"- Making 'Extremist Violence in Hungary' an agenda item of your Parliamentary Assembly, which will convene in Strasbourg from 28 September until 2 October;

- Establishing a CoE Commission of Enquiry – perhaps under your Commissioner for Human Rights – to investigate the situation and provide a roadmap for the Hungarian authorities to contain this fascist virus;

- Events in Hungary are contributing to similar incidents in neighbouring CoE member states, especially due to hate-site networks on the Internet. As a long-standing monitor of cyber-hatred, the Wiesenthal
Centre calls for a special session of the CoE on this phenomenon."

"The contagion must be stemmed. It behooves the Council of Europe to seek conformity of its members with its own principles to the point of naming, blaming and shaming those that risk the social health of the
entire Continent," concluded Samuels.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.