The harsh life of ex-Canadian Hungarian Roma refugees
For the last couple of years our community has been dealing with the new phenomenon of not having so many refugees anymore. Most of our people living here are Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents or Convention Refugees. We have only a few refugee families left, some Hungarians and the rest from eastern European countries.
I would like to express my great concern about a very important issue: the Hungarian Roma most of whom, after being refugees in Canada, were rejected and sent back to Hungary, re-exposed to oppression, discrimination and persecution.
About 10,000 or so Hungarian Roma were deported back to Hungary in the last 6-7 years. They were thrown out of Canada by Canada Immigration, on the basis that Hungary was about to become an EU member and therefore could not produce or have any more Roma refugees overseas.
Canadian Immigration had no reaction to any of our documents or complaints concerning the Hungarian situation. We tried numerous times and different ways of approaching Canadian Immigration to listen to our problems but this has not happened yet.
It was more comfortable for Canada to accept the advice and "expertise" brought in 1998 by a Hungarian delegation which was sent to Canada for the purpose of erasing the credibility of the Hungarian Roma refugees already in Canada or on their way here.
Canadian Immigration, and implicitly the Canadian government, made a historical mistake by buying what the Hungarian delegation brought for sale – a fake product: they claimed that the Roma were not persecuted or discriminated as a minority in Hungary.
Both parties, Canada and Hungary, are satisfied with their "agreement" – result: Hungary is a member of EU, with a new kind of European "peaceful strategy." The Roma are being returned to Hungary where the political situation is most unstable and the violence on the streets continues (2006-2007). Hungary keeps promising to improve the lives of Roma, while Canada saves on welfare, legal aid, and other financial expenses on the Hungarian Roma cases.
A child's question
A few years ago I was asked by a young Canadian-born Roma kid with Hungarian parents why they had to go back home. I did not know what to answer. There have been too many Canadian-born children sent back to Hungary because their parents, being Hungarian Roma, were refused asylum protection. All the stories and information we receive from Hungary or from different NGO's about them are very sad. Those families are not able to have a life in Hungary anymore. They are not helped by any of the government authorities to get back to a normal life somehow. Many of them are homeless and they don't know what to do to survive, as oppression and persecution from the Hungarian police and right wing elements in the general population have not been resolved by the EU membership.
I am very disappointed with this situation and feel responsible enough to continue asking that Canadian Immigration publicly announce on what basis are the Hungarian Roma sent back to Hungary. We still hope that some of the Roma families who are still in great danger there would be able to return to Canada.
It is very sad to hear all the time the crying and suffering in Hungary, of our brothers and sisters who had to leave Canada, and that is why our organization will not stop fighting until we get justice for them; that I can promise.
Copyright Constantin Anghel, March, 2007.
NOTE: If you are reading a
of this website, please refer to the original English for accuracy.