Paris, 10 August 2009

In a congratulatory letter to newly elected European Parliament (EP) President, Jerzy Buzek, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, recalled the Centre's close cooperation with his predecessors.

Samuels noted his last communication with former EP President, Hans-Gert Pöttering in May, "just prior to the European Parliamentary elections, in regard to extremist candidates and their campaigns of incitement to racism and – more specifically – the targeting of Jews, Roma, Muslims or any other victimized minority."

The letter continued, "This followed our protest of 5 March to Hungarian President László Sólyom, regarding a Gypsophobic pogrom in Hungary.

Since then, the persecution of Roma has reached a 'precedented' level. I would have preferred the word 'unprecedented', but it seems likely that last week's midnight murder of an elderly woman and vicious attack upon her daughter in Kisleta, Szabolcs, by neo-Nazis, was timed to coincide with the 2-3 August 1994 commemorative date of the 'Porraimos' (Romani for 'the Devouring') when thousands of Gypsies, mostly women and children, were gassed in Auschwitz."

Samuels stressed that "this situation is most acute in Slovakia, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

While the Slovak police must be commended for its increased protective measures around Roma villages and the arrest, last week, of Marian Kotleba, on of the leaders of the extreme-right Slovenska Pospolitost party, the Hungarian President and the British authorities, on the other hand, have responded only with lip service."

The letter pointed to "a Budapest court ruling to disband the para-military anti-Gypsy Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard, modeled on the World War II Arrow Guard Nazi associates in deporting the Jews and the Gypsies). This ban has yet to be implemented. The Garda's ideological companion, the Jobbik party, has three seats in the new European Parliament."

He added, "At the same time, in England, the Basildon town council is planning to expel the largest community of British Gypsies.
Similarly, in July, 114 Roma fled Belfast back to Romania, following a pogrom, reportedly instigated by the UK's neo-Nazi 'Combat 18' together with the Young (UK) Loyalists Movement. Present in Northern Ireland to assess the exponential increase in hate crimes, our Centre's protest to the First Minister elicited a 'thank you' from his secretary. The British National Party, which thrives in a climate of hatred and fear, is also represented in this European Parliament."

The Centre called on the EP President "to launch a firm resolution condemning the abovementioned acts and their repetition anywhere in the European Union. Those MEPs who oppose or abstain will, thereby, expose their true colours by commission or omission."

"All such MEPs – elected on party platforms of hate – must be quarantined politically and socially. The virus they carry is still fresh in European memory. They seek, once again, to infect our societies with bigotry and violence. Let the European Parliament take the first step to stem the contagion within Europe's own legislative House", concluded Samuels.