Sad but dignified flag-lowering in Szeklerland

The council of the town of Gyergyóremete (Remetea), home to 6,000 inhabitants, called its citizens to a sorrowful event Sunday at noon — a flag-lowering ceremony. After Dan Tanasă’s suit, the Bucharest High Court of Justice made its irrevocable decision that the Szekler town in Hargita (Harghita) County, where 97 percent of the inhabitants are Hungarian, must remove three of the five flags that had been hanging in front of the town hall for 15 years, since its construction. Besides the Szekler and the Hungarian flags, even the town’s own flag had to be taken down.

Five flags were flying for 15 years in Gyergyóremete
Five flags were flying for 15 years in Gyergyóremete. Three of them had to be removed. (Photo: Imre Gergely/szekelyhon.ro)

“We disagree but will comply with the decision, which discriminates against us.”

-said Gyergyóremete Mayor Albert Elemér Laczkó at the event.

Lowering Gyergyóremete’s flag
Lowering Gyergyóremete’s flag (Image: Székelyhon TV)

The mayor pointed out in his speech that the first in the row of flags is the Romanian flag because they respect the country they live in and follow its laws; the second is the flag of the European Union, the political and economic community which the country is a member of; the third was the red, white, and green flag symbolizing the Hungarian nation they belong to; the fourth was the Szekler flag because they are Szeklers, too; and the fifth was the flag of Gyergyóremete, the town in which they live.

Participants with candles
Participants lit candles and prayed. (Image: Székelyhon TV)

They thought that placing these flags in front of the town hall was a nice idea that would not bother anyone. But it turned out that it did: Dan Tanasă, once a blogger and now a Member of Parliament in Bucharest who is well known for his consistent attacks against the Hungarian minority living in Romania, sued the town one and a half year ago to have the flags removed. Finally, the irrevocable decision was made by the High Court of Justice: The town’s flag, the Szekler flag, and the Hungarian flag had to come down.

Lowering the Szekler flag
Lowering the Szekler flag (Image: Székelyhon TV)

“We thought that we were not offending anyone by placing our national symbols here. We will lower the flags. We will comply with the court’s decision; however, we do not agree with it. We also emphasize that we are staying here, and thus the point remains the same. We are at home, and this is our community,” the town leader said.

Lowering the Hungarian flag
Lowering the Hungarian flag (Photo: Imre Gergely/szekelyhon.ro)

Prays and tears and candles

As the three flags were lowered, more than 100 participants said the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary three times.

Many of them watched the event with tears in their eyes.

The mayor said that they don’t want to pretend as if nothing happened because it did happen, and this is an encroachment on their rights. He also added that in their search for a legal remedy, they are going to inform both domestic and international forums about the case.

People placing candles at the foot of the three empty flagpoles
People placing candles at the foot of the three empty flagpoles. (Image: Székelyhon TV)

The sad event ended with the singing of the Hungarian and the Szekler anthem, and many placed candles at the foot of the empty flagpoles. A similar event also took place in Hungary, in Gyergyóremete’s twin town of Biatorbágy, where the flag of Gyergyóremete was flying at half-mast. (szekelyhon.ro)

Székelyhon TV’s report about the flag-lowering.


Title image: Lowering the Szekler flag on January 10, 2021, in Gyergyóremete, where 97 percent of the inhabitants are Szekler-Hungarian. (Image: Székelyhon TV)

Author: Attila Szoó