AHF News from Vojvodina
3/19/2013 -- United States Helsinki Commission holds Hearing entitled, "The Trajectory of Democracy – Why Hungary Matters" to "examine Hungary’s constitutional changes with a particular view to the independence of the judiciary, present-day Hungary’s relationship to its Holocaust-era past, and the implications of Hungary’s sweeping legal changes for civil society, including an independent media and religious organizations." AMERICAN HUNGARIAN FEDERATION TESTIMONY ENTERED INTO RECORD. [read more]
3/19/2013 - Deathtoll rises as Violence against Hungarians continues in Serbia. AHF continues to be deeply concerned with anti-Hungarian attitudes and the lack of progress toward acceptance of diversity and the re-establishment of autonomy for the Vojvodina province. Recent attacks in the early part of 2013 include the severe beating of two teens in Temerin in January, one of whom required surgery to save his eyesight. In February in Szabadka (Subotica), 5 teens were severely attacked, for speaking Hungarian. These violent acts have repeated across the province. [see this HirTV documentary (in Hungarian)]
3/7/2011 - The 2011 Washington Hungarian Ball to raise funds for Hungarian nursery school in Bácskossuthfalva: Founded in 2005, this is the only such school officially recognized by Serbian authorities. Despite the official recognition, Serbia has refused to extend any financial support. The school is under serious financial distress and your support is greatly needed and appreciated. See the VIDEO INTERVIEW ( magyarul). [Read more] about the 2011 Hungarian Ball and support us!
2/29/2008 - As Kosovo gains independence, AHF calls attention to the largest minority in the region: The Hungarians in the former Yugoslavia and within the Carpathian Basin. The recent independence of Kosovo and resulting violence deeply concerns the Federation who calls international attention to the Hungarians of Vojvodina, who lost autonomy by the Serbian totalitarian regime of Milosevic, and those elsewhere in Central Europe. In a Letter to the Editor published in the Washington Times, AHF's Geza Cseri writes: "What is also bothersome and surprising is that there is no overall analysis of minority rights in Central Europe, which is crucial to the peace of the region as well as the whole of Europe. No mention of the rights of one of Europe's largest minorities, the indigenous Hungarian minorities living in Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine. They number more than 4 million." [Read the entire Letter to the Editor]
2/21/2008 - AHF monitoring developments in Kosovo and calls for autonomy for historic Hungarian minorities in Vojvodina and elsewhere in the Carpathian Basin. With independence of Kosovo and the potential for additional violence, the Federation is concerned over the lack of international attention to the Hungarian minority in the former Yugoslavia. "While Kosovars and other nations of Central and Eastern Europe have realized their aspirations for self-determination, the Hungarian minorities are still denied the right of autonomy within existing borders." [read more]
7/25/2007 - AHF Calls for protection on minorities in both Kosovo and Vojvodina. With independence of Kosovo inevitable, and the potential for violence, the Federation calls international attention to the other large minority in the former Yugoslavia: The Hungarians of Vojvodina who lost autonomy by Serbian totalitarian regime of Milosevic. AHF publishes Letter to the Editor regarding Kosovo Independence: "Because intolerance toward minorities characterizes the region, minority rights guarantees – a prerequisite to democracy and stability -- must not be entrusted exclusively to the local political elites." [read more]
6/13/2006 - Yugoslavia: Then and Now. The Washington Times publishes AHF letter to the editor. AHF's Frank Koszorus Jr. writes: "Jeffrey T. Kuhner observes that Yugoslavia is dead ("Yugoslavia, rest in peace," Commentary, Thursday). Actually, Yugoslavia was stillborn. Even as it was being cobbled together as part of post-World War I peacemaking, Croats (and other nationalities) resented Belgrade's domination. Stjepan Radic of the Croatian Peasant Party was interned for petitioning the peace conference for Croatian autonomy and later was shot in parliament. Yugoslavia was part of a far larger drama and tragedy that unfolded in 1920. By creating an unworkable European order, the peacemakers following "the war to end all wars" actually laid the groundwork for a greater conflagration 19 years later....." [download the full article]
The good and bad of Yugoslavia, by Tibor Purger. "Jeffrey Kuhner himself is mistaken — not the Macedonian Prime Minister he quotes — about the Yugoslav idea and on several other counts (Yugoslavia, rest in peace, Commentary, Friday). First, Yugoslavia was dead not when Montenegro declared independence this month, but when Slovenia and Croatia did so 15 years ago after Slobodan Milosevic had started to recreate Serb domination by force. [download the article]
HAND GRENADE THROWN AT HOME OF SERBIA'S HUNGARIAN MINORITY LEADER. RFE/RFL Newsline, 8/30/2005
Unknown persons hurled a hand grenade at the Subotica home of Jozef Kasza, who heads the League of Vojvodina Hungarians, in the early hours of 30 August, the private Beta news agency reported. There was slight damage to Kasza's house and the one next door, but nobody was injured. Police said that the device was a "hand grenade" and are investigating. Kasza was not immediately willing to make any comment to the media. He is an outspoken critic of nationalist tendencies in Serbian politics who told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in February that Serbia is "sinking in nationalist euphoria" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 2004 and 17 February 2005, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 18 February 2005). In Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica condemned the incident, calling it "a crime directed against the Serbian state." He promised to catch those responsible and to ensure the security of all Serbia's citizens, including members of national minorities.
CALL FOR LOCAL AUTONOMY.
The League of Vojvodina Hungarians announced in Szabadka (Subotica) on 13 July a proposed amendment to the Serbian Constitution that will allow local self-government and a high degree of autonomy in areas where ethnic minorities constitute the bulk of the population, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The Belgrade leadership is a staunch defender of "decentralization" in Kosova to give the Serbian minority there a high degree of self-rule, but has been reluctant to extend similar rights to its own minorities. During the late 17th and into the 18th centuries, the Habsburgs encouraged Ottoman Serbs and people from throughout Central Europe to settle in what is now Vojvodina, which Habsburg forces had recently retaken from the Turks. The region became an ethnic mosaic and remained so through 1945, but its large German minority was expelled at the end of World War II, and many of the region's Hungarians fled or were deported at the same time.
Vojvodina's Serbian population grew with Belgrade's support in the interwar years and under the communists. During the rule of former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from the late 1980s to 2000, many Croats, Hungarians, and other people of central European origin left Vojvodina, but the area was generally spared the forced ethnic-cleansing campaigns Belgrade employed elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.
6/10/2005 - "Hungarians should just dance" - Serbian radicals increasing pressure on Vojvodina Hungarian political parties. The Federation of Vojvodina Hungarians held a press conference to discuss efforts at intimidation and fear by radical Serbian politicians. The Serbs also appointed special prosecutors to begin bogus investigations of political activities in an assault on democracy and minority rights. While the violence continues... AHF fears a new Kosovo. [read full article in Hungarian]
- The Violence
against Hungarians continues:
Jeno Urban is a young man from Horgos and is the leader of the Bela Bartok Public Education Society's break group. However, this young man of great motion skill and who also teaches children, will not spin on his head for a while. [read more]
3/3/2005 - The President of the Assembly of European Regions, Riccardo Illy, called on the Serbian government to guarantee the autonomy of Vojvodina. Serbian media reports that autonomy for Vojvodina was the hot topic during conference on Regionalism in Novi Sad. Conference participants agreed that financing and constitutional status were the most important issues for all European regions, including Vojvodina.
The chairman of the Vojvodina Assembly, Bojan Kostres, described Vojvodina as having been at the same economic level as Slovenia when it had controlled its own income. “Slovenia is now a member of the European Union while Vojvodina is where it is. With the return of autonomy to Vojvodina we would have a chance to develop both Vojvodina and Serbia,” he said.
3/3/2005 - US State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Releases Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2004: Serbia and Montenegro
Excerpts from the full report:
"After the December 2003 parliamentary elections--in which the SRS took a plurality of seats--there was an upsurge in vandalism and violence against minority ethnic and religious groups in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina.... The targets were mainly ethnic Hungarians and ethnic Croats--the two largest minorities in Vojvodina."
The report continues, "Among the incidents that targeted religious sites or adherents were: The January 19 desecration of a Hungarian Catholic cemetery in Novi Sad; the January 19 desecration of a Reformist church in Sombor; the January 24 desecration of a Croatian Catholic cemetery in Subotica; the desecration of another Subotica graveyard, where Croats and Bunjevci (both Catholic groups) are buried, on the night of March 26-27; the desecration of 21 gravestones in the Catholic and Orthodox graveyard in Novi Becej between May 1 and 2; and an attack in Novi Sad on two Christian Adventist ministers.
The number of antiminority incidents in Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina increased markedly after the SRS won a plurality of votes in Serbian parliamentary elections in December 2003. While the incidents consisted mainly of vandalism targeting cemeteries, homes, churches, and cultural sites, there were also death threats and assaults (see Section 2.c.). For example, on April 9, Bela Csorba, Vice President of the Hungarian Democratic Party of Vojvodina, found a 12-inch kitchen knife wrapped in paper slipped under his door. Attached to the weapon was a note in Serbian, "we will slaughter you." On September 28, an ethnic Hungarian high school student was beaten by a Serb student at whom he smiled on the bus. According to an eyewitness and the victim, the Serb boy said, "no Hungarian has ever smiled at me and none will ever do so!" Other boys joined in the beating, and when friends of the victim tried to help him, they were beaten as well."
AHF is pleased that the US State Department is paying attention and hopes to work with officials to help bring an end to these barbaric events.See the full, official State Department Report
2/4/2005 - With President Bush's inaugural speech embracing "self-government" and "protection of minorities," AHF plans to advance policies that embrace autonomy and national self-determination for ethnic Hungarian communities struggling for survival. In a related story, NGO CALLS FOR ACTION ON KOSOVA'S INDEPENDENCE... The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a 40-page report released in Prishtina, Belgrade, and Brussels on 24 January that "either 2005 will see the start of a final status solution that consolidates peace and development, or Kosovo may return to conflict and generate regional instability." AHF is calling for international attention on the Vojvodina province in Serbia-Montenegro where anti-Hungarian violence continues as see below. [Read the ICG Report]
(AP) Six members of a Hungarian family were brutally killed in adjoining homes in a northern Serbian town on the border with Hungary, radio B-92 reported Wednesday. The bodies were found Tuesday in the family's adjoining homes in the town of Horgos, after neighbors noticed the houses were unusually quiet. A local court judge, Snjezana Lekovic, confirmed the killing, but police gave no official statement on the case. Horgos lies in Serbia's northern Vojvodina province that has recently seen a rise in attacks against the region's minority ethnic Hungarians. [read more]
1/11/2005 - The Szabadka Initiative: AHF signs joint declaration of the Szabadka Initiative by ethnic Hungarian political parties and human rights organizations from successor states in an appeal to the Hungarian Government for more coherent support, coordinated planning, and dual ctizenship.
Fifteen organizations, including AHF Member CHACR, from Europe, North America, and Latin America met January 5-6, 2005 in Szabadka/Subotica (Vajdaság/Vojvodina, Serbia-Montenegro) to join forces to...[read more]
10/30/2004 - AHF Releases Statement on Vojvodina Violence. Reacts to Anti-Hungarian Grafitti: “Drop dead Hungarians”
In the last six months, non-Serbs, including members of Vojvodina’s 300,000-strong Hungarian minority, have been harassed and assaulted and their cemeteries and churches have been desecrated in a wave of physical violence, vandalism and anti-Semitism. [read more]
5/13/2004 - Vojvodina Leader Accuses Belgade Elite of Oppression...The speaker of Vojvodina's parliament, Nenad Canak, has accused political elites in Belgrade of harassing pro-European and democratic parties in that province, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported on 12 May. Canak said the alleged oppression is the result of a slide toward increasing nationalism in Belgrade. In early March, members of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's coalition slammed an initiative for greater autonomy for Vojvodina as a "direct attack on the integrity of the Serbian state and the interests of the [ethnic Serbian] majority population." The so-called Subotica Initiative as led by Canak, who heads the League of Social Democrats in Vojvodina, and Jozef Kasza of the League of Vojvodina Hungarians. (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 3, 4 April 30)
4/5/2004 - Hungarians Fear Renewed Ethnic Cleansing: Serbs step up intimidation of Hungarians in Vojvodina...Minority communities in Serbia's former Hungarian northern province of Vojvodina (Vajdaság) are feeling the heat after recent stunning gains by Serbian ultra-nationalists raised fears of a return to the ethnic violence of the 1990s.
Residents in the province's capital, Novi Sad (Ujvidek), were woken by drunken mobs over Serbian New Year on January 13-14 shouting, "Hey Serbs let's butcher the Croats! Hey Serbs, let's butcher the Hungarians!" In recent developments, Serbs riot and set historic landmarks on fire and spray graffiti saying "We Will Kill Hungarians."
During the recent bloodshed in Kosovo, violence also broke out in the northern Serb province of Vojvodina. According to Tanjug News Agency in Belgrade, there were several dozen protests throughout the province. The region’s large ethnic Hungarian minority was the target of the attacks especially in the provincial capital of Novi Sad.
Duna TV on March 19 reported a group of demonstrators had “vandalized and smashed up things and set fire to them.” The mob also attacked the Magyar Szinhaz (Hungarian Theater), a symbol of Hungarian culture in Vojvodina. The report states that following a performance, a shouting crowd marched in front of the theater and broke the doors and windows as well as ripped off the posters and pictures promoting the show. The Tanjug News Agency on March 22 reported several injuries during the protest.
According to Radio B92 in Belgrade, nationalist graffiti was found on a cathedral saying “Death to Hungarians” in the northern city of Novi Sad (Ujvidek). There have been many cases of anti-Hungarian graffiti in the city.
On Duna TV (March 19), the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) condemned the violence and called for the ethnic Hungarians to stay calm. Peace and stability has returned after the few days of protests. On Kossuth Radio (March 20), Jozsef Kasza, leader of SVM, “demanded that the Serbian government prevent the settling of ethnic scores and that it punish the perpetrators of the law and order offences that had taken place at the Theater.” Tanjug News Agency stated that criminal charges have been filed against numerous individuals who participated in the violent acts in Vojvodina.
March 2004 brought more sadness and fear when 85 crosses were pulled out and broken in Subotica (Szabadka). Another 100 had been destroyed in a previous attack in a different cemetery in January. The police always come up with some useless "results" This time they say it was two 7-year-olds who did it.
Violence and anti-Hungarian graffiti spread to smaller towns as well: Zenta (35,000, 70% Hungarian) and the neighboring Ada (20,000, 75% Hungarian). See on the left, Zenta's city sign was vandalized with the words "Death to Hungarians" on April 4, 2004 [read more]
Why So Many Hungarians Across the Border?
Vojvodina (Vajdsaság in Hungarian), an integral part of Hungary for over 1000 years, was awarded to the newly formed Yugoslavia by the French at the "Treaty" of Trianon in 1920 when Hungary lost 2/3 of her territory and 1/3 of her Hungarian population. Intimidation, large scale evictions and ethnic cleansing, emigration, and fear of self-reporting have official estimates of only 300-350,000 ethnic Hungarians remaining in the province. Some, however, estimate this number to be double that since many fear self-reporting as Hungarian exposes them to risk.The American-Hungarian community is increasingly concerned by ethnic violence in Vojvodina.
"Ethnic Cleansing" in action
How did this region become part of Yugoslavia? Read "The Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia and Autonomous Region of Vojvodina, and the Need for a More Coherent U.S. Foreign Policy" by Bryan Dawson and refer to the following demographic maps comparing Vojvodina in 1910 and 1991. Note the decline seen here in Hungarian population does NOT take into consideration the Balkan conflicts and the significant escalation of atrocities against Hungarians over the last decade:
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 WesternEuropean 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]
Seles (pronounced sell-esh and spelled Szeles Monika) won the European junior championship at the age of ten. Born to a Hungarian family in the former Hungarian province of Vojvodina, she moved to the United States in 1986, and in 1989 turned professional. In 1990 she won her first French Open, and in each of the following two years she won the Australian, United States, and French opens. Seles won the Australian Open in early 1993, but later that year, while resting between sets during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, she was stabbed by a spectator. The incident caused Seles to withdraw from competition in 1993 and 1994. Seles returned to competition in 1995 and won the initial tournament of her comeback, the Canadian Open. In 1996 she again won the Australian Open.
Monica is a fierce competitor and is still going strong into the new millennium including winning the Bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olmpics!