AHF Statement: Minority Rights in Central & Eastern Europe
9/13/2016 - AHF issues statement on Minority Rights in Central and Eastern Europe. Throughout its more than 100 year old existence, AHF has decried and vigorously opposed manifestations of xenophobia, discrimination, racism and hate directed at national, ethnic, racial and religious minorities, including but not limited to expressions of anti-Semitism and hate speech directed against any minority group. Sadly the rights of Hungarian minorities have been largely ignored. The statement appears in full below or available for [download]
The American Hungarian Federation Urges Minority Rights be
The vexing issue of minority rights and intolerance in Europe is front page news again. For example, it has been reported that the Living Memorial erected in Hungary by survivors and descendants of survivors of the Holocaust was vandalized last Friday by a tiny fringe group. Considering the unacceptability of such dastardly deeds no matter how few the perpetrators, the American Hungarian Federation (AHF) herein reiterates its long-held views on the sensitive and vitally important topic of minority rights and calls for more education.
Throughout its more than 100 year old existence, AHF has decried and vigorously opposed manifestations of xenophobia, discrimination, racism and hate directed at national, ethnic, racial and religious minorities, including but not limited to expressions of anti-Semitism and hate speech directed against any minority group. Sadly the rights of Hungarian minorities have been largely ignored.
AHF is inspired by and concurs with Elie Wiesel’s observation that, “[w]herever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”
AHF has been and is deeply concerned by the discrimination and intolerance (and at times violence) confronting the Hungarian minorities in their age-old homelands in the states bordering Hungary. The minorities are denied a range of rights, including cultural or territorial autonomy, and are forced to live in a stifling status quo that threatens their cultural existence, if not their very survival. They are denied even internal self-determination that would enable them to exercise a degree of local self-rule and preserve their unique culture and identity within existing borders.
Significantly, the Hungarians of Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine have all demanded autonomy by peaceful and democratic means. Autonomy would ensure democracy to beleaguered Hungarians, fulfill promises made to them a century ago, and strengthen the democratic process by serving as a model of how majorities and minorities can work together to redress past wrongs. These states, however, ignore the minorities’ legitimate demands and most disturbingly and inexplicably the international community silently stands on the sidelines, refusing to address the grievances of the Hungarian minorities.
It is imperative that Western standards apply with equal force and effect to all minorities, including Hungarian minorities, to ensure that their rights and ability to preserve their culture and human dignity are guaranteed and fully respected. AHF further urges that programs be sponsored to educate the general public of the pernicious and unacceptable consequences of discrimination, intolerance and hate-mongering and that the rule of law is the foundation of democracy.
Why So Many Hungarians
One thousand years of nation building successfully delineated groups based on culture, religion, geography, and other attributes to create the countries with which we are so familiar. While some Western European nations would continue power struggles and princely battles and civil wars, Hungary, founded in 896, was a peaceful multi-ethnic state for a 1000 years and her borders were virtually unchanged. Until 1920...
The Treaty of Trianon in 1920... in the aftermath of WWI, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her Hungarian-speaking population. Add to this the loss of up to 90% of vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. The clear winner of the land grab, was Rumania, who, established only 60 years earlier, more than doubled in size overnight.
Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)
Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, this trend continued over the past 90 years.
[read more on the Treaty of Trianon]