|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|
Come, my brother, hand in hand,
we of Rumanian kin,
let the fraternal hora fan
down the great Rumanian plain.
Weed shall vanish from the sown,
our enemies die in brimstone,
and here among us there will be
only dance and glee.
Shortly before Easter of 1977 Jeno Szikszay, a Hungarian highschool teacher of Hungarian and Italian was summoned to the political police headquarters of Brasso where he was accused of conspiring against the State and its people. The accusation was based on the fact that he had studied in Rome in the 1930's. When Jeno Szikszay asked how he could have created such an impression, since he had taught for decades in the Hungarian gymnasium (high school) at Brasso under the constant supervision of the Rumanian state school inspector, "We are the only ones who ask questions here!" came the answer. He was beaten up by a number of individuals using rubber truncheons, afterwhich he was presented with the text of a voluntary confession to be signed by him. Its essence was a statement that he fully confessed to having plotted for decades against the socialis tstate system; of educating the youth of Rumania in fanatic Hungarian nationalism, and that his only goal was to carry out an attempt on the life of Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu, leader ofthe Rumanian people. Jeno Szikszay refused to sign. After his refusal, he was beaten again, and then released with the reminder that he would be summoned again after the holidays. Jeno Szikszay was an elderly man. His spirit was strong, but his body was weak and sickly. Even if he signed the paper, he was sure they would drag him away to perish in one of the death camps in the swamps of the Danube delta. Even worse they would vilify his family and relatives. If he did not sign, theywould beat him again, and then harass even more his friendsand acquaintances. His friends would be compelled to makestatements against him, to denounce him, and to openly statethat he was a man without character and an enemy of socialism. He decided to tell all this to his friends and his students, and on the day of Pentecost, he took his own life.
Upon hearing of the incident, those of us who live in more civilised areas should have been indignant over the brutality and the forcing of the "confession." Even more, we should have wondered just why, at that time in 1977, the Rumanian political police chose to make an issue of the fact that Jeno Szikszay had completed his studies in Rome more than 40 years earlier. We should have wondered indeed, especially since this incident was not the only one of its kind.
Another is the case of Zoltan Zsuffa, who was called into the Kovaszna police station at the same time. The reason given for the summons was that as a Hungarian military officer in World War II he had beaten his soldiers. The suspect objected, saying that there must be a mistake because he had only been made an officer at the end of the war. As he spoke, a colonel entered the room and turned to his interrogator saying, "Have you beaten the bandit yet?" "Not yet," came the answer. "Do you have a Russian whip?" "Only a rubber truncheon." The colonel, for lack of anything better, thoroughly beat the victim with it and put a typewritten confession before him. Zoltan Zsuffa did not allow himself to be beaten again. He signed the confession. The next day, however, he underwent a certified medical examination, following which he presented a formal complaint. In the meantime, Jeno Szikszay had committed suicide, and perhaps this was the reason his complaint was promptly acknowledged. He was summoned once again to the security office and presented with another confession. In this one he declared that his former "voluntary" confession was not the real truth; that the colonel had not beaten him. Zoltan Zsuffa signed this paper as well. But when he put down the pen, he was beaten again for misleading the police in his first confession. Then he was released, knowing that the authorities could bring charges against him anytime they wished for making a deliberately misleading statement! Thus the sword of Damocles hung over his head. But Zoltan Zsuffa made no further complaints, for today in Transylvania, charges can be brought against members of the minorities whenever desired; as a matter of fact, a person can be done away with without any official record of the action. Although Szikszay and Zsuffa made these choices in order to live with their own consciences, we are still left with the baffling question: "Why did the Rumanian political police choose to provoke two such incidents in the Spring of 1977?"
The answer to this can be found in the events of that summer in the meeting between Janos Kadar and Nicolae Ceausescu, when the Hungarian first-secretary intervened on behalf of the Transylvanian minotrity. Apparently Bucharest wanted to collect for this meeting precisely such "documentation" - "documentation" which would make it appear that the Hungarians in Rumania were indeed reactionary and chauvinist intellectuals, and that Budapest wanted to protect its own people.
However, let us look at another incident, the case of Karoly Kiraly, which brought about an important reaction, not only in the two countries concerned, but also in the Western world.
Karoly Kiraly is a Hungarian born in Szekely land. He belongs to that generation of young intelligentsia which blossomed during World War II. When it became common knowledge that at Yalta and Potsdam, northern Transylvania, had again been awarded to Rumania, the members of that generation did not accept passively but thought to themselves, "If we must again belong to a foreign state, let us try here and now to preserve our language, our culture and our lives." It became an even more important cause for them because of the Communist principle that the socialist state itself is more important than the nationality of the individual. At that time, Karoly Kiraly's youtful generation enthusiastically supported the Hungarian People's Federation, a Transylvanian minority organization whose more than 40 representatives (about 15 percent of the members of parliament) currently controlled the balance of power in the Rumanian people's democratic transformation. This meant that the quickly formed coalition of the Communist party with the Social Democrats and the peasant party (the Ploughshare front), allied thereto, did not have an adequate majority in the 1946-1947 Bucharest parliament, and therefore the transition to a proletarian dictatorship could only be realized with the support of the Hungarian People's Federation. The cooperation of the Transylvanian minority was important. Members of the young Hungarians went by the tens of thousands to Bucharest and other Rumanian cities to provide adequate crowds, applause, and cheers for the arguments of the left-wing speakers.
The foregoing is historical fact, attested to by millions, and also by Petru Groza, at that time the prime minister, and later president, who acknowledged it a number of times. Groza created the Hungarian Autonomous Territory although Rumania was not obliged to do this under the terms of the 1947 Paris Treaty Agreement. It was he who protected the famous Transylvania universities and secondary schools, and, in fact, even extended elementary education to that Hungarian province in Moldavia where it had never existed in the past. There-fore, Kiraly and those like him had some reason to believe that their cooperation would not be in vain. Because of this, many gave their allegiance to the left wing. Karoly Kiraly also became a communist, filling various functions in the party and state structure. In 1968, he was the first secretary for the Kovaszna district. By that time, however, Ceausescu had already started his fanatic Rumanian nationalistic policy, first attacking the Hungarian universities, then resettling hundredsof thousands of Rumanians to northern Transylvania (which up to that time had a Hungarian majority,) and in those areas neighbouring on the Hungarian border. But Karoly Kiraly and his colleagues, along with many other realistic and thoughtful
Rumanian intelligentsia, regarded that as just a passing phenomenon. They believed that a Marxist-Leninist policy would prevail over the Rumanian nationalism which had so suddenly flared up.
Kiraly believed it in principle, even though in 1972, he was relieved of his office and given an insignificant assignment in his native city of Marosvasarhely. But though dismissed, he remained a party member, and as a member, he sent a number of petitions to the Central Committee of the Rumanian Communist Party. In these petitions he discussed the government's recent injustices to the Hungarian minority, and stated that he was forced to submit the petitions because the Hungarian Nationality Council, of which he was a member (in fact, vice-chairman), had not been allowed to meet for years, and thus he had no other way in which to submit his complaints.
He received no reply until the text of one of his petitions made its appearance in Western Europe, where it drew the attention of Europeans and Americans as well. He was summoned to Bucharest several times where he was questioned at party headquarters, and, according to our information, elsewhere as well. He had barely returned from this questioning when someone else was named to replace him at work; his wife was notified that they were being moved into a smaller apartment; his younger sister was dismissed from her position, and his friends began to be arrested one by one. Such was his situation in February 1978, when I visited Marosvasarhely.
After safely returning home, I was able through research to determine that the above cases are generally contrary to the Rumanian constitution, the laws of the State, and also contrary to the UN declaration on Human Rights. But particularly, they bear all the marks of racial discrimination and apartheid, and in fact, of the crime of genocide, if not by outright killing, then in intention and result.
1. In the discussion on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, Paragraph I of the international agreementdated 9 December 1948 states: "The Contracting Parties affirm that genocide - regardless of whether it is committed in peace or war - is a crime, indictable under international law, and signatories pledge themselves to enact preventive measures against it and to punish its perpetration."
The second paragraph states: "The present Agreement understands under'genocide,' the commission of any one of the following actions with the intent, fully or partially, to annihilate any national, popular, racial or religious group such as:
a) the killing of themembers of the group;
b) causing serious bodily or psychological harm to the members of the group;
c) the forcing of suchliving conditions on the group as have the goal of causing thefull or partial physical destruction of the group;
d) the taking ofsuch measures as have the goal of preventing births within thegroup;
e) the forced transfer of the children of the group to another group."
2. The convention "The 1965 International Agreement on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Part I, para-graph 1, point 1) states: "In the text of this Agreement the expression 'racial discrimination' means all such discrimination, exclusion, restriction as is based on race, color, descent, na-tionality or ethnic descent and the goal or result of which is the nullification or curtailment of human rights in the political, economic, social or cultural area, the recognition, equal enjoy-ment or practice of basic freedoms."
3. Paragraph 2, sub-point a/II, of the docurnent "Internationa lAgreement on the Overcoming and Punishment of Apartheid Crimes" states: "The causing of serious physical or psychological harm to the members of some racial group or groups in a way that violates their freedom or dignity, subjects them to tortures or other cruel and inhuman or humiliating treatmentor punishment."
The Rumanian Socialist Republic is one of the signers of the agreements and has ratified them, as a consequence of which it should have passed appropriate decrees and executive instructions to prevent and punish the above-mentioned acts. However, nothing to this effect has been done, and in fact, the state organizations themselves, as we have already seen, continue to perpetrate the genocide.
Although numerous examples could be listed, I shall not do so here and now, first of all, because international practice in past decades shows that the direct and effective power of the various documents is quite small. Secondly, because the publication of specific names would bring revenge from Bucharest upon the Hungarians and their families, not necessarily directly and openly, but under some pretext or other. Perhaps even without pretext, because we do have records of "accidents", poisonings and incarcerations in mental institutions. And these things cannot be verified or fought against as long as such incidents continue to be hushed up. Karoly Kiraly was not only unable, but will never be able to defend himself on his own. But thirdly, and chiefly, I shall not list other examples, because even though such brutal cases are not rare in Rumania, I do not regard them as characteristic of the official or officially inspired nationalist policy of greater Rumania.
A volley of shots; men die and are wounded; policemen rush to the attack, beating and arresting people; ghettoes are delimited for certain groups of people; members of certain groups are dragged to annihilation camps - indeed these are such clear actions that it is not difficult to recognize and condemn them. It is made even less difficult because they have their precedents all over the world.
But, such facts are also known in Bucharest, and the government does not want to bring upon itself the condemnation of civilized countries. Recently, however, they have not always been successful, and they will succeed still less in the present atmosphere of self-induced nationalist hysteria. I still regard these methods of theirs as characteristic of a carefully organised system of incessant and general psychological torture. This method was chosen because its relatively silent mode of strangulation does not make a big noise; because European and North American public opinion has not as yet focused its attention on this method, and because no law specifically forbidding this method is to be found in the international agreements quoted above.
|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|