Press release – As we approach the Centennial of the Great Union, anti-Hungarian sentiment continues to be rampant in Romania. Any negative news involving the Hungarian community is amplified, exaggerated and used to create tension on a national level. The latest development is especially worrisome, since it involves an incident that was provoked and purposely fabricated in order to shed a very damning light on the Hungarian population in Szeklerland.
Last week, a Romanian videoblogger from Cluj-Napoca/Kolozsvár, known as Milițianul (meaning militian, a word that was used to refer to policemen in the communist era) made a video which he posted on his Youtube channel, in which a Hungarian woman working at the grill unit of a Kaufland store in Odorheiu Secuiesc/Székelyudvarhely apparently refused to attend the said vlogger because he did not speak Hungarian. Following this incident, the Regional Commissariat for Consumer Protection from Brașov/Brassó sent their local inspectors to verify the facts, which led to a fine of 10,000 RON (more than 2000 €) for Kaufland Romania. The chief commissioner of the Regional Commissariat, Sorin Claudiu SUSANU, declared in a statement that they fined the supermarket chain because their agents were also denied service for speaking Romanian. However, the report of the inspectors clearly states that they gave the fine based on the video posted by the vlogger.
It should be mentioned that the images shown in the said video are taken out of context, since the episode that was ultimately recorded was actually the third interaction between the customer and the salesclerk, as the outside cameras of the store clearly show. During the first two interactions the author of the video had been informed that the grill unit was not open yet, the first time he had approached the stand being roughly half an hour before opening, while the last episode, the one that was filmed, happened 13 minutes before opening, in which period the salesclerk was in the process of preparing the products. The fact that the vlogger went back to the stand for a third time, knowing that it was not yet open, filmed his interaction with the shop assistant and cut out bits from the recording, clearly demonstrate his intent to misconstrue the facts and present them in an exaggerated way, that was meant to incite anger and hatred toward the Hungarian community of Szeklerland.
However, the inspectors of the Commissariat for Consumer Protection, as well as its chief commissioner, ignored these facts and fined the establishment solely based on the video posted on Youtube. It is worth mentioning that their intervention was very prompt, the agents investigating at the scene the day after the video had been posted. As a contrast, Consumer Protection has on several occasions ignored complaints made by Hungarian organisations and members of the Hungarian community, which shows a double standard on the part of the institution. Moreover, chief commissioner Sorin Claudiu SUSANU also claimed that the same supermarket chain had been fined in 2015 for printing marketing materials exclusively in Hungarian, a claim that Kaufland Romania categorically denied in a statement, saying that such a fine does not exist.
The allegations made by the chief commissioner clearly show a desire to instigate anti-Hungarian sentiment by putting this lamentable but isolated incident in a larger context, and suggesting that such behaviour is characteristic in the region. For these reasons the Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance will file a complaint to the National Council for Combating Discrimination against Sorin SUSANU, for inciting national hatred against the Hungarian community.
As we wrote last week, the Romanian First Division 2017-2018 football season has barely begun, but the newly promoted team from Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy, Sepsi OSK, already has to endure xenophobic slurs from nationalist supporters of other teams.
Source: Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Aid Service