, Roma activist from Hungary who fled to Canada


Three years ago, I met Jozsef and Timea, a brave young couple who fled Hungary after being persecuted for being ethnically Roma and for standing up for the rights of their people.

They were relieved to be here, and we had an instant connection as my family also fled Hungary as refugees when I was their daughter’s age.

hungarian refugeesMy friend Jozsef Pusuma is a Roma activist from Hungary who fled to Canada with his family after receiving death threats. Now the Canadian government says they will be deported.

But now, I fear for my friends’ lives because the Canadian government has rejected their refugee application — saying they are not real refugees.

I started a petition asking Immigration Minister Kenney to let them stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds.

Will you click here to add your name?

The family fled after Jozsef began receiving death threats for his political work advocating against Roma discrimination. He is a high-level target since he assisted a prominent EU Parliamentarian, known for speaking out against the racism Roma face. A few weeks ago, several Hungarian newspapers published articles calling Jozsef a traitor. This family is clearly in danger if they go back.

Racism against Roma is common in Hungary, but recently it’s become more dangerous. Vigilantes have formed groups to terrorize Roma. Many like Jozsef have received death threats and have been attacked. Roma are subjected to widespread discrimination in employment, housing and health care, and Roma children are forced to attend segregated schools.

Minister Kenney has intervened in cases like this before, but at the moment, he doesn’t seem to realize the extreme hardship and danger my friends face.

Please sign my petition so we can send thousands of messages to Jason Kenney bringing attention to this case.

With hope,

Kristina Nagy

A true, close friend of Jozsef, Timea and Viktoria

Last Friday, I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned my friends would finally be allowed to come home to Canada! Thank you to all 15, 685 people who signed my petition for the Benhmuda family. While we waited for the government to make a decision it was a comfort to know your signatures were being printed out and submitted as evidence of public support.

It’s been almost five years since I received a tearful phone call from Aisha, the mother of two of my Mississauga kindergarten students, saying the Canadian Government had decided they weren’t real refugees and the whole family would be deported to Libya. Adel, their father, was taken into custody immediately after their plane landed and was tortured for months because of his brother’s connection to anti-Ghaddafi forces and because he had made a refugee claim in Canada. The family later escaped and lived in a refugee camp in Malta. This is the third time they’ve applied to come home.

Being part of this family’s long journey home I’ve learned how important it is to speak out when people are wrongly deported to dangerous situations, and that if enough people do it is possible to bring people like Adel, Aisha, Omar, Adam and Mohamed and Moawiya Behmuda home.


Ingrid Kerrigan


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