Anonymous (nem ellenőrzött)
2019. május 01.
László was an amazing person who was also a true patriot and who succeeded in changing history. Mankind is all the richer for him. He fought for justice and helped many people, including myself. Here'S an excerpt on him from my book on the Romanian Revolution:
The Hungarian Human Rights Foundation & the Demonstration
The Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF) is the brainchild of László Hámos,
a Hungarian-American who is a legal researcher by profession. He first started things up in
5 CNSAS, I 226083, Vol. 1, p. 18
1976 in New York City when he established the HHRF’s predecessor – the Committee for
Human Rights in Rumania (not Romania). It began after Hámos and some of his friends,
who were all part of a Hungarian cultural group, sent relief packages to Romania after a major flood there in late 1975. Hamos’s group bought sugar and blankets from the $600 it had
collected from local Hungarians, bundled them up in forty packages, and sent them off. (By
the way, they did arrive.)
A few days after they had sent off the shipment, Hámos needed help moving his new washing machine upstairs to his fourth-floor Upper East Side apartment. The deliverers had
dropped it off on the ground floor.
“Four friends of mine from this group came over that day to help me lift and carry up this
washing machine, which took the better part of an afternoon on a very cold, wintery day,” explained Hámos. “And we were completely dead tired. We got up to my apartment, having beers
and whatever, and one of the guys said, ‘Let’s go over right now and break the windows of the
Romanian Permanent Mission to the UN. And we got into a pretty active argument – dead tired as
we all were – about that and that’s when the agreement took place. We left our apartment with the decision that we would organize a demonstration outside the Romanian Permanent Mission to the UN.”
Hámos said he personally got involved because of disturbing news reports about what was
happening to the Hungarian minority in Romania, and the fact that the year before, his
own government – the United States – had granted Romania Most Favored Nation status,
which Hámos felt was entirely undeserved.
Then, after several weeks of organizing, on February 10, 1976, Hámos and his colleagues gathered in the large meeting hall of the Hungarian Reformed Church on East 82nd Street to work
out the plans for the demonstration. That was when they officially created their organization.
The demonstration was held on May 8, 1976, outside the Romanian Permanent Mission
to the United Nations on East 38th St. The day before the demonstration, the group published a full-page ad in the New York Times, outlining the discriminatory policies against
the Hungarian minority in Romania with the blaring title:
“WILL THE UNITED STATES ENDORSE CULTURAL GENOCIDE IN
And that ad didn’t come cheap.
“We got it on credit,” explained Hámos. “There was a fellow who had defected from Romania
– a fellow by the name of Csaba Bázsa who happened to work for an advertising agency called
Ogilvy & Mather and that agency had the right to place ads on credit in the New York Times
and other newspapers, and he had made a deal with the agency that we would repay the money
for placing the ad which was something like $12,000, which at that time was a small fortune…
We clearly didn’t have that kind of money. He [Bázsa] made a deal with them that if he was not
able to repay that money he would quit his job. He would basically be fired if he didn’t. So on May 8th, on the day of the demonstration when I got the microphone I said: ’We have two exhibits here. Exhibit ’A’ is this ad. Exhibit ’B’ is just Csaba Bázsa. If we can’t pay for Exhibit ’A’,
Exhibit ’B’ loses his job.’”
That day Hámos’s group ended up collecting twice the amount of money they needed to
save Csaba Bázsa from losing his job.
The ad listed Romania’s efforts to wipe out the Hungarian language and culture in
Transylvania. It then cited Article 27 of the 1966 UN Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights: “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging
to such minorities shall not be denied the right in community with the other members of their group,
to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.”
The ad also asked the United States Congress to reverse its decision to grant Romania Most
Favored Nation (MFN) status solely dependent upon the easing of emigration restrictions.
The group also asked the United States to apply diplomatic pressure on Romania.
In 1975,Romania had been awarded the much-coveted MFN, a series of trade advantages
with the United States, thanks to the U.S. Trade Reform Act of 1974. This act, which includes the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, made trading a bargain for the Romanians.
As for the demonstration, about 2,500 people showed up from all parts of New York
City and the eastern seaboard. Hámos’s own congressman and soon-to-be-mayor of New
York, Ed Koch, had other commitments and couldn’t come, excusing himself in a letter to
Hámos. However, Koch certainly read the New York Times ad the day before.
“He walked over to the floor of Congress,” explained Hámos, “and this is also on public record,
and he gave a speech on the floor of Congress saying ‘Constituents of mine published this ad. I’m very disturbed by its allegations and I call upon the Romanian government to respond.’ And he sent us a copy of his statement in the Congressional Record, and the Romanian government did repond with mountains of propagandistic evidence.”
Hámos said the Romanian government refuted his group’s ad in the New York Times with
their own ad in the Washington Post in hard-to-read 8-point type.
“Koch then sent us the response of the Romanian government, saying ‘Well, what do you say
to this?’ So, we had to go back and do our own research and dispute all of the claims that the
Romanian government was making.”
The group’s name was changed to the HHRF in 1984 and the organization has several pur
poses. It serves as a news-gathering service on the situation of Hungarian minorities in the
countries surrounding Hungary. (Romania has the largest number of ethnic Hungarians,
followed by Slovakia with a half million, Serbia with almost 300,000 and Ukraine with
about 150,000.) The organization is also a charity fundraiser and a human rights watch group.
The HHRF very quickly caught the attention of Romania’s internal security service
(Securitate) as well as its external spy service, the Direcția de Informații Externe (DIE). The ad in the New York Times was certainly alarming for them, as were the increasing number
Ceaușescu’s Next Trip to New York City & the Dissident Károly Király
Around the same time as László Tőkés was starting to express his dissatisfaction with the
system back in Romania, another member of the Hungarian minority, Károly Király, was
using his position in the Romanian Communist Party to make waves. Király was upset
about the increasing discrimination against national minorities and in 1977 wrote letters to
leading officials about it. When he was ignored, he smuggled out a highly critical letter of
protest to the prize-winning Hungarian writer and dissident Sándor Csoóri in Budapest,
who passed it on to László Hámos in New York City. (Sándor Csoóri would later be instrumental in a number of other actions to help the Hungarian minorities in Eastern Europe.)
Hámos – with the help of a very influential American journalist who has asked not to be
identified in this book – approached the New York Times, which agreed to publish the protest letter as an op-ed article on February 1, 1978. As a result, Károly Király was placed under house arrest in Târgu Mureş.
The publication was planned to coincide with Ceaușescu’s second visit to the United States
in 1978. Since Ceaușescu never responded to any of Király’s correspondence, Hámos wryly asserted that by publishing the ad, he wanted to urge Ceaușescu to catch up on his mail.
But there was also another purpose: H
Just four days earlier, on April 12, a full-page ad had been taken out by the Romanian government in the Wall Street Journal. It appeared on page 20 with the following blazing headline:
President and Mrs. Ceaușescu
The top half featured two side-by-side portrait photographs of Ceaușescu and his wife
Elena in black-and-white. The text underscored the importance of Romanian-American relations. At the bottom of the ad was a list of American companies that included – last but not
least – Westinghouse. Whether the listed firms had anything to do with the ad is unknown.
The advertisement also gave the impression that all was well in Romania.
However, Hámos had arranged for eleven demonstrations to be held not just in New York
City, but wherever Ceaușescu visited during his U.S. visit. Some demonstrations were very
small, others were not.
The demonstration in New York City was huge.
Hámos’s purpose was to keep Ceaușescu off-balance since Hámos knew he wasn’t accustomed to protest actions.
This all took place at a fortuitous moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Under
President Jimmy Carter, the State Department had established a new Human Rights Bureau
in October 1977, just a few months before Ceaușescu’s visit.
The demonstration in New York was organized literally at the last minute. The day before,
Saturday, April 15, Hámos received a phone call from a reporter friend of his telling him that
he had just found out from the State Department that Ceaușescu was coming to New York
City the next day and would be staying in the Waldorf-Astoria. Hámos quickly went to the
police to get a demonstration permit. He and co-organizer László Kálmán also called the
hosts of two Hungarian-language radio shows in New York City and in the surrounding
area. (Kálmán also had his own radio show.) The following day, all three radio shows would
announce Ceaușescu’s visit on their Sunday morning programs, , and that a demonstration
would start outside the hotel that afternoon at 5 p.m.
And if you’re wondering who that “Deep Throat” reporter was: I talked to a reporter now
retired and living near the Eastern Seaboard who first admitted that he was the one who
leaked the news. In a second interview a little bit later as I was getting ready for my documentary film on the Romanian Revolution, however, he changed his tune and told me he
doesn’t remember anymore whether he had leaked the info or not (also telling me that he
doesn’t want to get into any trouble).
On a related note, leaking information from the State Department to the public is a punishable offense if it pertains to a security issue such as a visiting head of state.
So on this one, I am going to have to take the Fifth Amendment…
As for that Sunday, it was a disaster for Ceaușescu. First of all, he decided not to even try to get to his presidential suite at the hotel and be confronted with thousands of screaming protestors until local authorities removed “the scum,” as he called them. Ceaușescu spent most
of the day ranting and raving at the Romanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations
on East 38th Street.
What happened at the Romanian Mission – according to an eyewitness account – was not
a pretty sight. Ion Mihai Pacepa was at the time the head of the DIE (he later defected to
the United States). He was with Ceaușescu during his New York stay. He wrote in his book
Red Horizons that Ceaușescu went berserk in front of him. Ceaușescu demanded that the
White House be called and that President Carter arrest “the criminals”. He also called for the
immediate assassination of the two organizers of the demonstration, one of whom was Hámos.
“They should be killed, this very night, as a clear warning to anybody else who might try an attempt on my security. They should be killed by professional criminals.”6
Pacepa says that around midnight the New York Police Commissioner, Robert McGuire,
came by to assure Ceaușescu that it was safe to return to the Waldorf Astoria.
Around that time, Hámos had told the demonstrators to go home and that the event had
been a success, because Ceaușescu was prevented from being able to check into his hotel. A
core group of twelve people, however, including Hámos himself, remained just in case.
And the payoff came a half hour later at 12:30 a.m.
“We were walking as bystanders and not in a group so as not to arouse any suspicion. And at
about 12:30 we saw the first of three limousines turn in from Lexington on to East 49th Street,and recognized in the first limousine the Chief of Police of New York. In the second limousine we recognized Ceaușescu in the back seat, and as soon as this happened – we had a guy who was at the end of the block – and he ran up, saying he’s coming...”
The twelve then started yelling into their one microphone in unison: “Hitler, Stalin,
Ceaușescu!” By this time the group was right in front of the hotel, terrifying the driver of
the limousine containing Ceaușescu. The driver consequently rammed the side of his car
against a concrete pillar. In a panic he then floored it in reverse, again grinding against the
6 Pacepa, Ion Mihai. Red Horizons, p. 329
same pillar in an attempt to try to take the corner again.
Finally, Ceaușescu got out of the side of his car that had been partly wrecked. Secret police
officers formed a circle about him and then escorted him to his suite.
“What you learned from Pacepa’s book is that when Ceaușescu got up into his room he went
immediately to the toilet and threw up,” Hámos said. “Whenever Ceaușescu was very nervous,
he threw up.”
When he came out, he ordered the hit on the organizers.
I cannot tell you how I know the following because it involves an undercover FBI agent. I
have been told by Julian Porter, the lawyer I hired to libel-proof parts of this book and who
is the absolute expert in this kind of law in Canada, that if I did reveal the identity of this person – who, by the way, is no longer an FBI agent – then the U.S. government could possibly take steps against me, because this person was undercover. What I can say is this: an
undercover FBI agent who had worked himself/herself into the mafia in the New York CityNew Jersey area was present the day after the demonstration when the call came in from the
Romanians to have Hámos killed. The agent did say - and I cannot tell you how I heard this
– that Hámos was “in good hands” because fellow FBI agents Owen Murray and Patrick
Groves were on the case. That same day the pair visited Hámos.
“They told me that there’s a plot and ‘you’re on the hit list,’” explained Hámos. “‘There’s a plot to assassinate you, and we’re going to let it go. We’re going to see where it takes us in terms of finding out what other people they’re conspiring with.’ They gave me names, also, at that time of who it was in the Romanian community that was charged with carrying this out.
“And they said, ‘Don’t worry about it because if it ever gets to the point where they’re actually going to do it, then we’ll arrest them, but we want to know the whole breadth of the conspiracy – what contacts they have and where they’re going with this. And don’t worry about it.’”
Four months afterward, the car belonging to Hámos’s former father-in-law was firebombed.
An incendiary device that had been placed in the glove compartment exploded just after his
father-in-law, Ferenc Koréh, had turned on the motor. He scrambled out of his car just before it was engulfed in flames and then exploded. That happened on August 23, 1978, and
the FBI reminded Hámos that August 23 was a national holiday in Romania to commemorate the country switching sides in the Second World War, when it left the Axis that day in
1944 to join the Allies.
The car-bombing case remains unsolved.
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