Balczó: EP should look into case of imprisoned Szekler members of youth movement

It is high time for the European Parliament to look into the matter of the Szekler youth movement members persecuted and then sentenced to prison by the Romanian authorities for a “terrorist act”. Addressing the first autumn plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Jobbik MEP Zoltán Balczó talked in the so-called “one-minute speeches of political importance” section to point out a human rights violation committed by the Romanian state.

In his speech, Mr Balczó noted that regional autonomy was a fundamental value in the European Union but some countries try to suppress these efforts. He said that the Romanian state rejected even the idea of autonomy for Szekler Land, an area populated by a Hungarian majority, and demonstrated an increasingly threatening stance towards the Hungarian population. Jobbik’s MEP recalled the recent public outcry following the court sentence received by István Beke and Zoltán Szőcs of Szekler Land. The Bucharest Regional Court sentenced them for criminal abuse of pyrotechnical devices to less than a year in prison, which they had already served in detention on remand. However, the Supreme Court reclassified their action as a terrorist act without proof and sentenced them to five years. MEP Balczó pointed out that the European Parliament regularly looked into human rights violations committed in various parts of the world. It is high time for us address these cases occurring in our member states, he asserted.

The two young Szekler men were transferred to a high-security prison in Margineni in southern Romania at the end of July. The Margineni facility is for convicts with sentences exceeding ten years. Earlier on, director of the Budapest-based Institute for the Protection of Minority Rights (IPMR) György Csóti announced that steps were being taken in three areas regarding the case of the convicted youth. First, the defence lawyers submit an appeal for legal remedy to the Supreme Court and second, the human rights institute turns to the European Court of Human Rights. Mr Csóti stated there was a good chance for getting legal remedy in Strasbourg, which would mean that the human rights court would fine Romania and order a retrial.

In the meantime (also in late July), Council of Human Dignity President Zoltán Lomnici submitted a plea to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to pardon the convicted Szekler youth, on account of the highly questionable verdict. Several Hungarian and foreign NGOs and political organizations have spoken up and held demonstrations for István Beke and Zoltán Szőcs.


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