Anti-Minority Incidents Continue in Vojvodina

January 2005

III.
Desecration of Cemeteries, Vandalism of Property


HHRF’s expanded report contains 23 cases of desecration of Hungarian, Croatian and Jewish cemeteries, historic sites and symbols, and the vandalism of church and minority institutions. The police are generally lax in investigating these incidents, which are widespread. Their intent is seriously called into question in those cases where they have allegedly identified the perpetrators of massive damage in cemeteries to be minors, often small children, and thus discontinued their investigations. Two well-known cases occurred on March 27, 2004 and September 28, 2003. A related phenomena is the burning of the Hungarian flag as happened during a soccer game in Újvidék/Novi Sad on August 25, 2004.

* * *

November 5, 2004

Unknown perpetrators vandalized the flowers and candles placed on All Saints’ Day at the stone cross in the Szent Rókus Catholic cemetery in Zombor/Sombor. The stone cross was raised to commemorate all who lived in Zombor and have passed away, regardless of where their graves may lie. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), November 6-7, 2004]


October 11, 2004

Unidentified perpetrators removed nine copper letters from a tombstone in the Catholic cemetery in Újvidék/Novi Sad. The perpetrators also removed the tombstone from its original place. The police have started an investigation in the matter. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), October 14, 2004]


July 31, 2004

Unidentified perpetrators threw Molotov-cocktails into a shop in Temerin during the night. The street-level store belongs to Zoltán Úri, an ethnic Hungarian, who lives in the same building with his family. The fire caused extensive damage but since nothing was stolen from the store, the perpetrators’ motives remain unknown. The police are still investigating the case. Locals believe that it might be the act of nationalists who have been sending threatening letters to certain ethnic Hungarians in the town postmarked from Újvidék/Novi Sad, and who might be behind the flag-burning incident of July 25. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), August 2, 2004]


July 3, 2004

Unidentified individuals desecrated 30-40 ethnic Croatian and Hungarian graves in the St. Rókus Roman Catholic cemetery in Zombor/Sombor. This was the third similar incident in the cemetery since 1995. The grave of János Herceg, a prominent ethnic Hungarian poet, was also desecrated. Josip Pekanovic, leader of the Sombor/Zombor branch of the Croatian Democratic Community of Vojvodina, was the first to learn about the incident. He reported the case to the local police, the Croatian Consular office in Szabadka/Subotica, and the Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina. Police ignored requests   by the Croatian and Hungarian minority organizations to investigate the incident. After numerous calls, the police registered only 17 of the total cases of desecration. Citing the lack of effort made by the police authorities, József Kasza, President of the Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina, called on Dragan Jocic, Minister of the Interior, to resign. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), July 6, 7, 8 and 9, 2004]


July 3, 2004

Unidentified persons twice desecrated graves in Monostorszeg/Backi Monostor during the past four days. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), July 9, 2004]


May 29, 2004

Marjan Medesi, aged 29, broke into the Catholic parish in Nagybecskerek/Zrenjanin around 4:30 in the morning. The thief put valuables, cash amounting to 1,970 Dinar (approx. $US 600) and a cell phone in a plastic bag. He severely beat Jenő Tietze and his sister Adamina who were trying to prevent the robbery. A criminal proceeding is underway and the assailant’s detention has been ordered. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), June 2, 2004]


May 2, 2004

In Magyarkanizsa/Kanjiza, unidentified perpetrators vandalized the Jewish cemetery, overturning a large marble monument erected originally in 1948 to commemorate the town’s 160 Holocaust victims. Paja Vigoda, the cemetery’s custodian, found the monument on the ground, smeared with human excrement. Police have yet to investigate the incident. Vigoda, who was appointed in 1996 by the Belgrade Jewish Community to safeguard the cemetery, said it was not the first time vandals had broken in. He said that no monies are allocated for the restoration and preservation of the cemetery. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), May 5, 2004]

Meanwhile in Törökbecse/Novi Becej, a total of 21 tombs (10 Roman Catholic and 11 Orthodox) were vandalized and damaged in the local cemetery. Two employees discovered the extensive damage in the morning. A police investigation swiftly began and the perpetrator was apprehended the next day, confessing to the crime. Authorities said they will issue a statement shortly revealing the identity of the perpetrator, who has numerous prior convictions. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), May 4 and 7, 2004; Magyar Nemzet (Budapest), May 05, 2004]


March 27, 2004

In Szabadka/Subotica, perpetrators broke into the Roman Catholic cemetery again, dislodging and destroying 82 wooden crosses and 10 stone decorations from Hungarian and Croatian graves. Three days later, police issued an incredible statement: the perpetrators had been caught: three children (A.F., D.T., and S.S.R.) between the ages of seven and eight. The investigation was discontinued even though children of that age and size would have been physically incapable of inflicting the extent of damage which was caused in the cemetery. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), March 29 and April 2, 2004]


March 18, 2004

Overnight, unknown perpetrators vandalized and damaged a few graves in the Roman Catholic cemetery located in the upper part of Zenta/Senta. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), March 19, 2004]


January 19, 2004

The tomb of a five year-old girl was vandalized in the Roman Catholic cemetery of Újvidék/Novi Sad. The perpetrators broke the white marble tombstone probably with a hammer. The local branch of the Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina issued a press release demanding an end to such incidents. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/Novi Sad), January 20, 2004]


January 13, 2004

Unknown perpetrators broke into the Hungarian Reformed Church in Zombor/Sombor sometime after Sunday, January 11. They vandalized the churchyard, broke ornamentation on the church door, attempted to break into the church itself and, in the end, flooded the church’s cellar with 120 cubic meters of water. By the time the minister arrived back to the church on Tuesday afternoon, the church yard itself was already flooding. Police responded immediately after the minister called them, and continued investigating into the following morning. Strangely, while the police were still at the scene on Wednesday morning, unnamed minors were found to be kicking the church wall and taking apart the brick fence. After an hour and a half of questioning they were let go, and told that charges would be pressed against them. On August 18, Andor Békássy, minister of the church, told HHRF that he has not heard from the police since the date of the incident seven months earlier. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), January 20, 2004]


January 5, 2004

“Đukić’s Cross,” a marble Catholic cross located at the entrance to the village of Kisbosznia/Mala Bosna, was damaged. The case was reported to the police who, after questioning locals and consulting stone-carvers, concluded that there was no ethnic motivation to the incident. Six month later, after being queried about the incident by a Magyar Szó reporter, Borivoj Mucalj, chief of police of Szabadka/Subotica, stated that the cross had toppled, because it was old and close to the road. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), January 9, 2004; Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), July 24-25, 2004]


December 28 and 31, 2003

The statue of Matija Gubec (a 16th-century Croatian leader of peasant rebels) located in the school yard of the Matija Gubec Elementary School in Tavankút/Tavankut was overturned by unknown perpetrators. Kalman Kuntić, the ethnic Croatian director of the school, reported the case to the police, who soon started an investigation. It was overturned again on the night of December 31, only two days after local officials restored the statue to its rightful place. This time the vandals defecated on it, presumably to deter its reinstallation. [Hrvatska Riječ (Szabadka/Subotica), January 12, 2004]


December 27, 2003

Two windows of the Croatian House in Zombor/Sombor were broken in with bricks and beer bottles on the night prior to the parliamentary elections. Members of the “Vladimir Nazor” Croatian Cultural-Artistic Association discovered the act in the morning and notified the local police, who arrived to the scene soon afterwards. It should be noted that just a day earlier the Croatian Alliance for Student Assistance had distributed supplies from the same building. [Hrvatska Riječ (Szabadka/Subotica), January 12, 2004]


December 24, 2003

In Szabadka/Subotica, several cars parked in front of the Croatian Cultural Center (in Croatian: “Bunjevačko kolo”) were damaged during the night. Their tires were slashed and a Serb acronym widely used by nationalists (four Cyrillic S letters divided into four fields by a cross) was scratched into one of the hoods. [Hrvatska Riječ (Szabadka/Subotica), January 12, 2004; Večernji List (Zagreb, Croatia), February 7, 2004]


December 6, 2003

A statue of Hungarian poet Antal Kovács, located a few meters from the guard’s post at the entrance to the Temerin town hall, was spray-painted during the night. Similarly, the entrance door of the local Szirmai Károly Hungarian Cultural Alliance (Szirmai Károly Magyar Művelődési Egyesület) was also spray-painted and, the name of the Serb Radical Party was emblazoned on the door of the local Historical Museum. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), December 11, 2003]


November 26, 2003

More than 50 wooden and stone crosses were damaged in a Roman Catholic cemetery in Felsőmuzslya/Muzlja (a village neighboring Nagybecskerek/Zrenjanin). On December 3, 2003 police arrested three minors — L.N. (aged 17), N.K. (aged 16) and K.D. (aged 17) — from Nagybecskerek/Zrenjanin. One of the perpetrators, L.N., was placed under psychological evaluation, the other, N.K., was seriously rebuked, while the third perpetrator, K.D., was exempt from further examination. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), November 27 and December 5, 2003]


October 5, 2003

At 7 a.m. in Grbavica (near Újvidék/Novi Sad), on the corner of Tolstoy and Puskin Streets, three young Serbian men aged 25-26 insulted Károly Nász and his wife, sprinkling beer over the husband. The couple was saying goodbye when the three, drunk men approached them. Hearing the spouses speaking Hungarian, they spilled beer over Károly Nász, started insulting them, and kicking their car. Nász called the police but was unable to give an accurate description of the aggressors due to his emotional state. Nász also told reporters that a week ago his grandparents' grave was desecrated in the Roman Catholic cemetery in Novi Sad. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), October 9, 2003]


September 28, 2003

During the night, 86 graves were desecrated and severely damaged in the Roman Catholic cemetery of Újvidék/Novi Sad. Several crosses were overturned and tombstones uprooted. A 35 year-old grave of an infant, for example, was dug out half way after its marble tombstone was removed. The total damage is estimated at 950,000 Dinars (approximately $US 15,800). Police began an investigation and found the perpetrators: two minors, a girl (A.K.) and a boy (M.P.) who are currently high school students. The perpetrators admitted to the crime and said they were intoxicated at the time of the act. The legal guardian of one of the perpetrators said that police investigation was very controversial. At first, police stated that both perpetrators’ houses were searched in trying to gather evidence for the crime. However, police did not, in fact, come to their houses. Secondly, it appears that more than two perpetrators were involved in the incident. The legal guardian told the daily Dnevnik that it is impossible for two minors — a boy weighting 64 kg and a girl weighing 35 kg — to cause such extensive damage in only one hour (which was the length of the incident according to the police report). Before the judge, the two perpetrators claimed that they damaged only a few crosses and graves but added that a group of older boys had been watching them from the cemetery’s fence and also drinking. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), September 29 and 30, October 2, 7, November 8-9, 14 and 22-23, 2003]


April 16, 2003

In Szabadka/Subotica, unknown perpetrators vandalized one of the memorial stones in the Parcel No. 44 of the Zenta Street cemetery. This section holds the engraving of the names of 29 innocent victims of the 1944 massacres in Vojvodina. Local residents informed Ferenc Sinkovits, President of the '44 Memorial Committee, who reported the incident to the police. Last year one of the memorial stones was also damaged along with the gate and fence of the section. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), April 18, 2003]


February 1, 2003

In the Roman Catholic cemetery of Újvidék/Novi Sad, unknown perpetrators vandalized three tombstones. A police investigation is underway. [Magyar Szó (Újvidék/ Novi Sad), February 6, 2003]




Tartalom Vissza a tetejére





Copyright © 2004, 2005 Hungarian Human Rights Foundation


Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF) is an international human rights organization which, for the past 28 years, has monitored the human rights condition of the 3 million Hungarians who live as minorities in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro, Ukraine, Croatia and Slovenia. In accordance with its purpose, HHRF regularly collects, translates, analyses and disseminates reliable reports on the human rights condition of these communities. With offices in the United States and Europe, the Foundation serves as a clearinghouse of information for Western governments, human rights organizations, the media and the public.