The killing of my family haunts me until today

In a murder series in the years 2008 and 2009 six Roma were killed in Hungary and a few dozen injured. Four Neo-Nazis were identified as the perpetrators and sentenced, however, it was never clear, if there werent other people involved. The testimony from Ildiko Györgyne Jakab sheds light on the devastating consequences and the PTSD people suffer still today.

I would like to tell you about my family and what happened to us. It was 23 February 2009 when my family was attacked by four Neonazis in our home in Tatárszentgyörgy in Hungary. They set the house on fire and when my family was fleeing the fire, they started to shoot at them. My grandson Robika and his daddy, also called Robert were murdered. My granddaughter Bianka managed to escape the attack but was seriously wounded by shotgun pellets.

In Tatárszentgyörgy other Neonazis marched through the village only two years before the killings and wanted all Roma to leave Tatárszentgyörgy. And the four Neonazis came to Tatárszentgyörgy to kill Robi and Robika and destroy our life, because of this march and because the group that organized the march was later banned.

And we were not the only Roma who were attacked in these days. The attacks and killings lasted for around a year. The Neonazi gang killed in these days Roma in other places too.

In the village of Tarnabod the Neonazi gang attacked a few houses around half a year before we were attacked in September 2008. After these attacks Roma were locked up and they were only released after the real perpetrators got into custody.

When such terrible crimes like the killings are committed against us Roma people, the police believes that are other Roma are the culprits, that the families had a fight or that money sharks are behind the attacks.

Family photo of the Nagy family / Tibor Nagy and his wife photographed at a famil event on a happy day as Tibor Nagy later mentioned. “It was a happy day and we were together.” Tibor Nagy lost is wife and brother during a raid on their house in Nagycsecs (Hungary).
Photo by Balázs Turay

When Robi and Robika were killed, the local police was first saying that the fire was caused by electric malfunction and members of the local police urinated the footprints at the house in Tatárszentgyörgy. The police started to investigate this case in a serious way only after Viktória Mohácsi intervened. She is a Romani woman from Hungary and was a Member of the European Parliament. Nobody ever apologised to us for what happened. No high-ranking politician in the years since the killing ever looked into my eyes and apologised for not being able to protect my family. Only this should have been told us.

We never received any psychological help or assistance. We are hunted by this tragedy even today and we will never forget what happened to us and can never forget it.

The Hungarian government provided financial aid for the affected families and we are grateful for it. My daughter then was able to pay her bank loan and all of us got temporarily relieved. We could move to a home close to my daughter’s as we bought a house from this financial aid. It is very important for us to live close to each other.

But we didn’t receive long-term aid. The mental or the health status of all the families of the victims of the attacks by the Neonazi gang is bad. People still suffer and all of us have problems making our living.

I wish this tragedy would have never happened and Robi and Robika would be still with us. Why is so much hate in this world? I do not wish to anybody that they have to go through what we went through and I wish that there will be peace and justice in this world.

We suffer from PTSD and the killings and the attacks are always with us and I know that other survivors and their immediate family members, even whole communities still struggle to deal with the attacks and the consequences. We would need rehabilitation programmes tailored to fit our individual needs. We are all in a bad mental health situation and struggle in our daily life anyhow to make our living. Some of us survivors died already and left their families with all the pain that they could not help them. Only a few came back to a normal life.

However, living with PTSD is an endless journey: it can happen any day that you are completely crushed by paralyzing headache and emotional distress triggered by memories, voices, and imagery related to the events. Without a stable household, a safe and supporting environment, access to quality education for our children, meaningful jobs for and healthcare programme with experienced mental health experts it is impossible to have a decent life again with PTSD.

Renata Jakab, Tatarszentgyorgy, 2010 (Rentata lost her son Robika and partner Robi in an attack on their house in Tatarszentgyorgy (Hungary)
Photo by Balázs Turay

Written by: Ildiko Györgyne Jakab & Balázs Turay