Distorted remarks and lies: Hungarian Government press release distorts remarks from meeting between Hungarian Deputy State Secretary Latorcai and Gina Csanyi-Robah, co-founder of the Canada Romani Alliance

During the last week of November, I received a phone call asking for me to attend a meeting at the office of the Honourary Consul General of Hungary in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Csaba Latorcai, Deputy State Secretary for Priority Affairs from the Prime Minister’s Office in Hungary, requested a sit down meeting with me to discuss Hungarian Roma in Canada. On Wednesday December 2, I met with Mr. Latorcai and Lajos Olah, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa.

I had what I thought was a very good meeting, but I have sadly come to learn that what I said during the meeting has been distorted and lies were reported in a Hungarian government press release describing Mr. Latorcai’s visit to Canada.

This is what was shared in MTI (the Hungarian gov’t press reIease) :

In the Western city [ie. Vancouver] [theUnder-secretary of State] met with Gina CS-R, one of the really significant leaders and advocates of the Canadian Roma community. Among other issues, he informed her about the steps taken by the Hungarian government in partnership with Roma communities to work towards the integration of Roma and also spoke about the activities of the Roma self governments. According to the Under-Secretary of State, G CS-R highlighted among other issues, that those Roma who have emigrated (sic) to Canada frequently become the victims of organized crime. [She] added that for most of these [Roma] the journey ends in disappointment and when they arrive home they are confronted by a difficult situation because of the substantial expenditures and because their children had dropped out of the Hungarian educational system.

I am absolutely appalled at this distortion and lies about what I said during my meeting with Mr. Latorcai. We spent 45 minutes together and with 30 seconds left, I answered Minister Latorcai’s question about Hungarian Roma becoming involved in criminality in Canada. I said that Roma are vulnerable to falling prey to criminals like newcomers from any community in Canada. In fact, I emphasized that Hungarian Roma have been exploited by a few refugee lawyers who have sabotaged their refugee claims. In fact, on December 3, 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada revoked lawyer Erzsebet Jaszi’s licence to practice law due to extreme negligence in handling Hungarian Roma refugee claims. I never once said that Roma who have migrated to Canada frequently become the victims of organized crime.

In terms of the experience of Hungarian Roma in Canada, I said that their journey often ends in disappointment because of being fairly labelled as bogus refugees by the Canadian government at that time, and the completely inadequate legal representation that they received for their refugee claims while in Canada.

During the other 44.5 minutes of my meeting with Mr. Latorcai, our conversation was focused on a number of very important issues including Hungary’s lack of inclusion of Roma, specifically Hungarian Roma during the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Conferences that have taken place in Hungary this past year; what the Hungarian government is doing toward addressing exclusion and endemic discrimination endured by Hungary’s Roma; the challenges faced by children in the Hungarian education system; and the difficulties that Roma face in Canada (language and culture differences) and how much they miss Hungary, despite the hatred and violence they faced there.

I emphasized that the commonality among the 1000’s of Hungarian Roma children and youth of asylum seekers that I have worked directly with through the Toronto District School Board, is that they have all faced either physical, mental, or verbal violence in Hungarian schools. To the best of my knowledge, the majority of Hungarian Roma asylum seekers come to Canada for a safer life for their children, one that is not threatened by daily racism, hatred, and violence.

Lastly, my ending words tried to press upon Mr. Latorcai the importance of recognizing the Canadian education that the children and youth received during their years in Canada, rather than placing them back in the last grade that they had attended in Hungary which results in them often giving up on their education. The majority had done very well in highly diverse Canadian schools were they felt safe and were treated with dignity and equality. It should be noted here that in 2014, nearly 50% of all Hungarian Roma asylum claims in Canada have been successful.

I was very pleased to learn from Mr. Latorcai that the Hungarian Ministry of Education is currently working on curriculum that is more inclusive to the history and culture of the Romani students and that it will be provided in a course in the next school year. I expressed my hope that this Romani history and cultural course be provided as curriculum for all Hungarian students to learn and that strict anti-racism policies need to be created in Hungarian schools. Mr Latorcai agreed that combating racism as early as possible in school was critical and that the young Hungarians, Roma and non-Roma, need to build better understanding and relationships with each other.

I viewed this meeting with Mr. Latorcai as a success, and better than any previous meeting that I have had with any Hungarian government representative, since 2011. This was consolidated by the invitation extended to me at the end of our meeting to come to the Hungarian Consulate in Ottawa this coming February for a discussion with the Hungarian Minister for Social Inclusion. However, at this point, I am deeply saddened by what appears to have been a futile meeting that has been manipulated and exploited to reinforce negative stereotyping about Hungarian Roma refugee claimants.

One thing that is making me feel slightly better about the untrue and distorted comments I supposedly made during the Latorcai meeting is Chris Adam’s article in The Hungarian Free Press. His suspicions that he raised about my comments during the Latorcai meeting made me feel slightly vindicated. (Article here)

In conclusion, it is now easy to see why there is very little progress in Hungary between Romani leaders and the government in terms of trust, reconciliation, and meaningfully addressing the problem of endemic racism and oppression that continues to be diffused from the top echelons of institutions and from the the average everyday, non-Roma citizen.

In a recent high level meeting with Hungarian Ambassadors and diplomats from Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that he did no view Roma as Hungarians and compared Syrian migrants to the Romani minority in Hungary. The PM was quoted as saying, “It is an historical given of Hungary that, irrespective of what one might think about it, the country does live together with several hundred thousand Roma…Someone made this decision at some point and we have inherited it. That’s our situation, against which it is not even possible to express any reservations. We, of course, never present anyone, and certainly not Western countries, with the demand that they too live together with a large Romani minority.”

See article here: http://www.romea.cz/en/news/world/hungarian-justice-minister-says-europe-s-roma-could-join-the-terrorists#

Thankfully, Canada is becoming a place that is more accepting of both Roma and Syrian refugees.

Gina Csanyi-Robah
Co-founder, Executive Director
CANADIAN ROMANI ALLIANCE

Gina Csanyi-Robah

Gina Csanyi-Robah

14 Comments

  1. András B. Göllner says:

    Ms Gina Csanyi-Robah’s account is a good lesson why ANY civil or human rights organization should insist in advance, that meetings with the Orbán government and its representatives be always public and recorded. The Orbán regime’s use of affinity fraud to generate political capital with minorities, religious and ethnic groups, civil rights advocates is well known, and has been amply documented on the pages of this and other media. The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter will only engage in discussions with Hungarian government officials and Embassy representatives here, if the meeting is tape-recorded and the tape-recording is publicly posted on You Tube for scrutiny. Without such a prior agreement, the opportunities for abuse are endless, as we have seen in this unfortunate case.

    • Charlie London says:

      Agreed.

      Your can purchase a solid state recording device that looks like a USB thumb drive – because it is a USB thumb drive too.

      At £10 (21 Canadian Dollars – $

      They record after being USB-charged for up to 10 hours. The quality of recording is amazing and they can sit innocently on your handbag or clipboard recording away!

    • Charlie London says:

      Agreed.

      Your can purchase a solid state recording device that looks like a USB thumb drive – because it is a USB thumb drive too.

      At £10 (21 Canadian Dollars – $15 – 4383fts) they are remarkably cheap.

      They record after being USB-charged for up to 10 hours. The quality of recording is amazing and they can sit innocently on your handbag or clipboard recording away!

      My partner uses one to record her lectures – and I use one while playing in an orchestra.

      For discreet recording you can just turn the thumb drive over so as to conceal the tiny blue led light which shows it is recording.

      Don’t ever be exposed again, Gina!

  2. Another unscrupulous attempt to discredit the democratically elected Hungarian Government and the Hungarian (Magyar) race!!!!!
    There is only one liar here, that is YOU!!!

    • Charlie London says:

      Still here? Elizabeth?

      Why don’t you go and find that fascist, Nazi site that someone suggested last week?

      Try kuruc.by?

      Anyway, just go – you haven’t a clue about democracy.

    • Translation : what you are saying makes my political party looks bad, therefore it can’t be true, you liar!

  3. Elizabeth, there is no such thing as the “Hungarian race”. There is the human race and within that the Hungarian nationality.

  4. Elizabeth,

    do you equal the Fidesz with the Hungarians?
    Democratically elected by 2.132.996 from 9,939,470?
    I heard this before from Orban. We (Fidesz) are the Hungarians and the rest are liars and traitors. No Elizabeth, like it or not, the majority are Hungarians, too. Other points can be discussed after you acknowledge this.

  5. Richard,
    If you want to act as a teacher, then first learn the lesson.
    You say “Democratically elected by 2.132.996 from 9,939,470?”
    Think again, admit your mistake, and then we can discuss other points.

    • Les,

      What was exactly my mistake? Care to elaborate?
      I printed out official statistics found on the net. Wrong numbers?
      Oh, I see. Yes, I copy pasted one from a Hungarian and the other from an English site in haste and I didn’t notice what might bother you.
      Correctly 2,132,996 and 9,939,470
      I noticed later but I didn’t want to start a new post to correct my mistake thinking that even a schoolboy would be able to read and understand the numbers. My other mistake. 🙂 O.K. now?

      But you said; after my correction you are ready to discuss other points. Here one.

      Before the election Orban has launched a sneaky and powerful campaign in many different ways to keep as many non-Fidesz voters he could away. He could actually manage to keep the critical number of voters away from the election and got the two third. If only those poor misguided voters had gone to vote (obviously against him) Orban could have never achieved the two third which could have triggered a psychological trauma within the Fidesz resulting in unfavorable outcome for them and more hope for reshuffling the deck of cards. But, the trick worked and mostly only the fanatic Fidesz supporters had gone to vote.

      Are you ready now to discuss the point how to exploit democratic values and freedom of speech in a tricky way?

  6. Richard,
    My problem is that you’re (either consciously or not, but) mixing apples with potatoes. The number 9.939.470 as you quoted, is the total number of citizens in Hungary. I’m sure you know that not all the citizens are eligible for voting (persons under age 18, etc……), and not every person with voting rights has participated in the voting (only 61.24%). So, to be fair to all sides, you should have quoted the real statistical figures (see below). The rest of your lamentation is just first-class bulldust (or smanca, as my grandfather used to say).

    Az országos listára leadott szavazatok 98,87 százalékos feldolgozottságánál a Fidesz-KDNP 44,37; az MSZP-Együtt-DK-PM-MLP 25,88; a Jobbik 20,46, míg az LMP 5,24 százalékon áll. A határon túli magyarok körében viszont gyakorlatilag egyeduralkodóak a kormánypártok: a levélszavazatok 98,87 százalékos feldolgozottságnál a voksok 95,37 százalékát szerezte meg a Fidesz-KDNP.

    Az országos listákra leadott szavazatok 98,87 százalékos feldolgozottságánál a pártlistákra leadott szavazatok száma a következő:

    1. FIDESZ-KDNP (44,37 százalék, 2.132.996 szavazat)
    2. MSZP-EGYÜTT-DK-PM-MLP (25,88 százalék, 1.244.261 szavazat)
    3. JOBBIK (20,46 százalék, 983.476 szavazat)
    4. LMP (5,24 százalék, 251.928 szavazat)
    5. MUNKÁSPÁRT (0,58 százalék, 27.648 szavazat)
    6. A HAZA NEM ELADÓ MOZGALOM PÁRT (0,47 százalék, 22.624 szavazat)
    7. SERES MÁRIA SZÖVETSÉGESEI (0,44 százalék, 21.159 szavazat)
    8. ZÖLDEK PÁRTJA (0,37 százalék, 17.651 szavazat)
    9. SZOCIÁLDEMOKRATÁK (0,30 százalék, 14.580 szavazat)
    10. EGYÜTT 2014 (0,28 százalék, 13.503 szavazat)
    11. SEM (0,25 százalék, 11.906 szavazat)
    12. KTI (0,22 százalék, 10.504 szavazat)
    13. JESZ (0,20 százalék, 9.505 szavazat)
    14. MCP (0,18 százalék, 8.675 szavazat)
    15. FÜGGETLEN KISGAZDAPÁRT (0,16 százalék, 7.798 szavazat)
    16. ÖSSZEFOGÁS (0,14 százalék, 6.553 szavazat)
    17. ÚDP (0,04 százalék, 2.036 szavazat)
    18. ÚMP (0,03 százalék, 1.513 szavazat)

    Az országos pártlistákra és a nemzetiségi listákra leadott összes érvényes szavazat: 4.807.450

    A levélben leadott listás szavazatok összesítése 98,87 százalékos feldolgozottságnál.

    A levélben szavazók névjegyzékében szereplő választópolgárok száma: 193.793
    Érvényes szavazási iratok száma: 87.972
    Érvényes szavazólapok száma: 62.754
    Érvénytelen szavazólapok száma: 106

    A pártlistákra leadott szavazatok száma és aránya a következő:
    1. FIDESZ-KDNP (95,37 százalék, 59.846 szavazat)
    2. JOBBIK (2,32 százalék, 1.454 szavazat)
    3. MSZP-EGYÜTT-DK-PM-MLP (1,23 százalék, 775 szavazat)
    4. LMP (0,44 százalék, 274 szavazat)
    5. ZÖLDEK PÁRTJA (0,19 százalék, 121 szavazat)
    6. SEM (0,11 százalék, 66 szavazat)
    7. KTI (0,06 százalék, 39 szavazat)
    8. SZOCIÁLDEMOKRATÁK (0,05 százalék, 32 szavazat)
    9. MUNKÁSPÁRT (0,04 százalék, 25 szavazat)
    10. JESZ (0,03 százalék, 21 szavazat)
    11. FÜGGETLEN KISGAZDAPÁRT (0,03 százalék, 18 szavazat)
    A HAZA NEM ELADÓ MOZGALOM PÁRT (0,03 százalék, 18 szavazat)
    13. EGYÜTT 2014 (0,03 százalék, 16 szavazat)
    14. ÖSSZEFOGÁS (0,02 százalék, 13 szavazat)
    15. MCP (0,02 százalék, 11 szavazat)
    ÚDP (0,02 százalék, 11 szavazat)
    17. SERES MÁRIA SZÖVETSÉGESEI (0,01 százalék, 9 szavazat)
    18. ÚMP (0,01 százalék, 5 szavazat)

  7. Les,

    no you don’t get my point, it’s so simple, though.

    Orban is not equal with Hungary and the Hungarian populace even if he has the two third of the voting. That’s all what I am keep on saying. Because it’s not the two third of he Hungarian populace. The 2,132,996 is the two third of those who voted but not of the Hungarians.That’s my point all.

    Why am I saying that?
    Those people who are not eligible for voting under age of 18 are Hungarians too, and those who stayed away from the voting in apathy are Hungarians too together with those who voted for other parties.
    The 61.24% of those who participated is not the 61.24% of the Hungarian populace, only of those who are eligible for voting.

    Therefore he should say, he represents and equal with the two third of the voters who participated but not with the two third of the Hungarians.

    I say, Orban is not Hungary and he misinterprets his two third. That is what I don’t like, for he is always saying that he represents the two third of the Hungarians and for the rest he fired a warning shot
    “The Mother Country cannot be in opposition”, i.e. 9,939,470-2,132,996=7,806,474 and 7,806,474 Hungarians cannot be in opposition to His Majesty two third 2,132,996 Orban.

    That’s it Les that’s all what I am saying and what I don’t like, and the rest of my post was not lamentation and first-class bulldust, you only wish it was, but it is true and reality.

  8. Richard,
    what you’re saying is simple indeed. And quite silly too. After all, we are talking about democratic parliamentary election results ain’t we. Can you tell me just one country on our beautiful blue planet which does it differently? Or, for the argument’s sake, are you questioning the legitimacy of Mr Obama sitting in the White House, based on the percentage his party won the election with? Wooo, Richard, isnt’ it silly?

  9. Les,

    good old buster. I see you came back to an old dead thread with two weeks delay only to call me silly for saying Mr. 20% is not equal wit Hungary? And then you even foolishly prove that I was right when you’re saying that it is true and it happens elsewhere, too.

    Yes, it happens ! Happens what? Happens what I said that that it is possible for one to get the full legitimate control of a country with the support of the mere 20% of the whole populace.

    You have just seconded what I said. 🙂 Good job. I must have hit nerves and your very sensitive area, buster. Yes, it’s legitimate and yes he’s still only got the 20% support of the whole populace of the Hungarian people, and legitimate or not the reminding 80% is the real Hungary and not Mr. 20%.

    Happy New Year old buster. 🙂 You’re a real antique.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *