3,000 Hungarian Property Restitution Claims Rejected in the Past Four Years

As you know, June 28, 2012 was a turning point in the Romanian church restitution process. This was the date when, following two years of legal harassment, the Buzău Court sentenced three members of the official restitution committee—Attila Markó, Tamás Marosán and Silviu Clim—to three years of imprisonment for restoring the Székely Mikó High School in Sepsiszentgyörgy to its rightful owner, the Hungarian Reformed Church. Subsequently, the state also renationalized the building in question.

The so-called Mikó Case is well known to our supporters. HHRF thanks all Hungarian Americans who have contacted their Members of Congress and the State Department to demand that the Romanian authorities right the injustice.

Statistics obtained earlier this month by HHRF on the so-called workings of the official Special Restitution Committee for religious properties referenced above prove that since the aforementioned three civil servants were sentenced in 2012, the committee has rejected 86.8 percent of all claims submitted by religious denominations (Greek Catholic and Jewish included).

Total number of claims:   

             3,381

 
Rejected by Committee  2,936
Compensation Provided   108
Restitution Granted        71
Withdrawn by Claimants   233

 The reason behind this inexplicably large percentage of negative decisions is fear—fear of being prosecuted, as the three members of the Mikó Case were. Therefore the over-whelming majority of requests submitted by the four historic Hungarian Churches (Roman Catholic, Reformed, Unitarian and Lutheran-Evangelical) for the return of schools, kindergartens, orphanages, and so on, are denied. The Romanian authorities claim that the Mikó Case was a corruption case and the Romanian judicial system is unbiased. The truth is that the Romanian authorities have taken advantage of the so-called anti-corruption struggle to “solve” one of their most uncomfortable issues: the restitution of 2,140 properties nationalized by the former communist regime from these religious denominations.

We, the Hungarian-American community have to use the many means available to us to persuade the Administration to press this issue vigorously as the undeniable human and religious rights violation it is. It has nothing to do with corruption. These religious denominations need these buildings to fulfill their mission of serving the 1.5 million-strong Hungarian community in Transylvania.

In early December, HHRF raised these specific issues with Administration officials at the annual Hungarian American Coalition White House briefing.

We must not give up on them now, after 25 years of struggle! Please help us help them!