|Bela K. Kiraly: The Hungarian Minority's Situation in Ceausescu's Romania|
This did not come about by chance. Many of the Forum organizers and the participants of the Lakitelek meeting had for many years been personally committed and involved with this matter. They had raised the issue on numerous occasions. These same individuals had repeatedly attempted to draw the attention of the national leadership and the public to the impending dangers and the irreparable consequences involved. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in dispelling the indifference or in promoting a better comprehension of the situation. The shortsightedness of the official leadership prevailed. History will hold these leaders accountable for their willful neglect and dereliction of responsibility. They have jeopardized the fate of those Hungarians who, through no fault of their own, had been reduced to the status of minority citizens in the neighboring countries.
This decision of the Hungarian Democratic Forum was followed immediately by preparations for a conference. First we had to do a thorough assessment of the issues. Our examination of the facts would have to bring to light the circumstances under which the Hungarian minorities exist in the Carpathian basin.
Apart from a very cautious and unpublished survey conducted in 197173 on the cultural and educational situation of the Hungariaul minorities, until recently their status was ignored. For some 40 years no comprehensive attempt had been made in Hungary to examine the status of the 3.5 million Hungarians living in neighboring states, of whom more than two million ase concentrated in Transy1vania. Even less had been done in the neighboring states in the way of data collection or analysis concerning their Hungarian minorities. It seemed as if a conspiracy of silence intended to blot out Hungarian consciousness in both Hungary and the neighboring states. It wanted to eradicate any sense of unity between the Hungarians of Eastern Europe.
This orchestrated national amnesia made it absolutely indispensable that a professional and factual report should be written to fill the void. To this end a conference was the first step. It would focus the attention of both domestic and foreign policy makers on this previously neglected issue. It would also inform the relevant social organizations, potential support groups and the general public. However, because the largest, most historically and culturally significant, Hungarian minority is located in Transylvania and is fighting for its very existence, the Hungarian Democratic Forum decided to first focus attention on this particular group.
The Hungarian Democratic Forum has been able to enlist the knowhow of the researchers who are most acquainted with the issue It was able to recruit Rudolf Joo, a political scientist, who is a well-known authority on minority matters, to assume responsibility for guiding the work of the assembled task force At the behest of the Hungarian Democratic Foumm, some of the country's most distinguished scholars in various fields, 35-40 individuals were called together in Febmary, 1988.Their purpose was to review the situation-analysis prepared by the seven-member task force The analysis dealt with both basic overall questions and more detailed aspects of the situation.On the basis of this critical review and suggestions for modifications and supplements, the Hungarian Democratic Forum issued a report at the Jurta Theatre on March 6th, l988. Rudolf Joo presented the essential points of the long report for the assembled delegates.
The fate of Hungarians in Romania is a passion-arousing issue. Thus, the discussions held on the March 6th, attended by more than 700 of Hungary's leading intellectuals, could not satisfy the audience and had to be continued on March 21st. On the basis of the views, recommendations, and new data presented at these sessions, the task force refined and supplemented the analysis The result is the published final version of the report as presented in this volume. The tragic conclusions of the report are substantiated by the data provided in the text and by the selected documents.
Two versions of the report were prepared: the present full-length version, complete with documents, and a shorter, 37-page summary version. The summary report was initially released at a press conference held on April 25th, 1988. This meeting was covered only by representatives of the independent, non-official publications and not the official Hungarian media. Their attention was focused elsewhere on the Party Conference of May 1988, at which major leaders of the Kadar era were being replaced. Consequently, it is not surprising that the official Hungarian media remained silent concerning this vitally important issue, in line with its past traditions. Nevertheless, the international press provided the report with wider coverage and gave it a favorable reception.
The summary form of the report has been released in both Hungarian and English language editions. The Hungarian edition was sent to leading govemment and Party functionaries, to the former secretary-general of the Patriotic People's Front, to the presidium of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, to higher-level members of the Cultural Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, auld to the head of the interdepartmental commission for Transylvanian refugee affairs, as well as to Hungarian church leaders.
The English edition was also widely distributed. The representatives of foreign public information forums, of course, received the report. Copies, accompanied by separate cover letters, were also sent to the American, British, French, West Gennan, and Swedish govenument leaders, to the secretary-generals of the Soviet, Chinese, and Italian Communist Parties, to the responsible representatives of the European Parliament and European Council, to the Vatican, as well as to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Jewish Congress, the International Red Cross, responsible subcommittees of the United Nations, and to members of both houses of the U.S. Congress. Some of the latter have already taken a stand on the Hungarian minority issue! And last, but not least, the English edition of the report was sent to those intemational researchers and scholars who deal with issues pertaining to European ethnic minorities. Subsequent letters, commentaries, and other responses bear witness to the positive reception of the report, akin to its treatment in the intemational press.
We are aware that history customarily, if not always, verifies, weighs, and judges events and their impact a posteriori. However, witnessing the fate of the Hungarian miinority in Romania as it plummets towards disaster, we can only hope that the efforts of the Hungarian Democratic Forum will not be in vain. Its work to infom and disseminate data regarding the Hungarians of Romania may be viewed as the first conscious effort undertaken to avoid disaster in Transylvania. Hopefully, by broadening its appeal and aligning itself with other groups it will be able to help avert the social and cultural dissolution of the communities there. The Hungarian Democratic Forum and the participants of the Jurta Theatre discussions for this reason, insist on: (a) the halting and abandonment of the barbaric plans aimed at destroying thousands of villages in Romania; (b) the elimimttion of all those conditions which compel minorities to flee the country; (c) the unrestricted right to use minority languages; (d) the guarantee of individual and collective rights; and, (e) the right to autonomy and selfdetemtination. Sensing our historical responsibility, we hope that our shouldered initiatives and activities in this area will not have been in vain.
In closing, we would like to express our gratitude to Chris Tennant, a social scientist and former U.N. planning official, who not only served as translator and editor in the preparation of the English editions of this report but also provided valuable input by way of critical comments and suggestions.
Professor of History
and Presidium Member of the
Hungarian Democratic Forum
|Bela K. Kiraly: The Hungarian Minority's Situation in Ceausescu's Romania|