Interior Ministry: Prefects must pay more attention to minority rights

The Szekler Monitoring Foundation wrote several letters to President Klaus Iohannis, indicating that minority rights are often violated in Romania and requesting that he call upon the state to enforce minority language rights. The president acknowledged the request and sent it to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which sent out notices to the county prefects, Hungarian newspaper Székelyhon reports. Zsolt Árus, civil rights activist and manager of the Szekler Monitoring Foundation, told Székelyhon that it depends on the Hungarian community to exercise and defend their rights.

As Zsolt Árus told Székelyhon, the foundation wrote several letters last autumn and a couple of times thereafter to President Klaus Iohannis to let him know about the minority rights violations in the country. The monitoring group asked the president to call upon every municipality of every town and village where the proportion of a minority exceeds 20 percent of the residents to respect the legislation on the use of minority languages. The foundation also asked the president to write to the prefects of each county with at least one such municipality, ask them to regularly monitor if language rights are being respected in public institutions, and if they find some violations, to fine the manager of the institution.

Iohannis answered the letters, listing all the relevant laws and specifying that such requests are not under his jurisdiction; however, he transmitted the requests to the government. As Zsolt Árus told Székelyhon, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Szekler Monitoring Foundation that they have called on the prefects to ensure that language rights are protected.

Zsolt Árus, civil rights activist and manager of the Szekler Monitoring Foundation. Photo: Székelyhon

The foundation contacted the prefects of the counties with a Hungarian majority and Bákó (Bacău in Romanian) County, and they confirmed the information of the Ministry of Home Affairs. As the prefects said, with the exception of Temes (Timiș) County, all the prefects have confirmed that they received the written notice and have already pursued some of the foundation’s requests. The answers of the prefects are now published on the website of the Szekler Monitoring Foundation, Székelyhon reports.

“From now on, what happens is solely our responsibility. Because we can still address the different institutions in Romanian (even in Szeklerland), thinking that we can handle our issues faster, or out of fear that if we do it in Hungarian, we will arouse resentment toward ourselves and/or our cause. However, everyone can now print out and carry the ministerial summons and the answer of the prefect of their own county to our letter, and they can boldly use their mother tongue, showing these documents if they face any resistance. Moreover, if anyone notices any violation, they can draw the prefect’s attention to it. Or they can inform the foundation so it can take action,” the Szekler Monitoring Foundation wrote on its website.

“Every law is worth as much as we use it. And the opportunity (but also responsibility) of us all is to accustom (in fact re-accustom) the Transylvanian public officers to the use of the Hungarian language,” Zsolt Árus concluded on the website.

Title image: The Prefecture of Kovászna (Covasna) County also confirmed the letter of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Photo: székelyföld.ma

Author: Orsi Sarány