In Romania, as in Europe and other countries in the world, there is a vaccination campaign to beat Covid-19. Given the discrimination that can be observed in this field, namely that there is no information in Hungarian, it is not possible to register for the vaccine in Hungarian and there are no forms in Hungarian, which must be filled before getting vaccinated, the “Mikó Imre” Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance turned to the National Council for Combatting Discrimination. The object of the complaint is that citizens are informed about the vaccine only in Romanian and the difficult medical terminology is challenging even for those, who otherwise are native speakers of Romanian. It is more than clear that Romanian citizens belonging to the Hungarian minority are discriminated and the information available only in Romanian impairs the elderly people, who are the most in need of protection.
The “Mikó Imre” Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance had previously sent a letter to Raed Arafat, Secretary of Interior Affairs, requesting information available also in Hungarian, however in the response recieved from the National Committee for the Coordination of Vaccination Activities against Covid-19 it was explained that the official language in Romania is Romanian and that the information is also available in English on the website set up for this purpose. In addition to this, in its response, the Commission justifies that informing people in Hungarian is the duty of local authorities and vaccination-related documents can be translated into Hungarian.
The Association also asked local authorities to take all necessary measures to provide the possibility for ethnic Hungarians of obtaining information about the coronavirus pandemic in their mother tongue.
Erika Benkő, director of the “Mikó Imre” Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance finds the response of the Committee surprising and cynical, and she believes that the 1,3 million Hungarian-speaking people, who are also Romanian citizens and for whom the state has the same responsibilities, as for the ethnic Romanians, are ignored.
Erika Benkő also pointed out that there are countries, such as Norway, where, besides the country’s official language and English, people are also informed in different languages of the quest workers to ensure that they can fully understand the information provided about the epidemiological situation.