In our next installment of Organizations in Focus, we would like to introduce the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF), an organization that defends the rights of Hungarian minority communities in Europe.
The Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (founded in 1976) has monitored the human rights conditions of 2.5 million ethnic Hungarians who live as minorities in Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine, who collectively comprise the largest national minority in Central Europe. HHRF is the only professional organization in the West devoted to the rights of these communities.
HHRF is a private, independent and not-for-profit corporation. It operates from its New York headquarters and maintains offices in Budapest and Kolozsvár (Cluj). HHRF regularly collects, translates, analyzes and disseminates reliable reports on the human rights conditions of these Hungarian minority communities. The Foundation provides services in five primary areas: monitoring, research and analysis; publications, lectures and information services; representation at domestic and international forums; support for minority cultures and civil society; and a Human Rights Internship and Exchange Program.
HHRF was at the forefront of the West’s mounting concern and activity regarding the systematic campaigns of forced assimilation against minorities by the former communist regimes. The organization regularly documents human rights violations in written and oral testimony before various Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Its other activities include participating in Helsinki Review Meetings, coordinating relief programs for Hungarians living in Romania and in the Vojvodina region, facilitating meetings between representatives of Hungarian minority groups and U.S. government officials, as well as informing Hungarian-American constituents of relevant legislative issues. Since the downfall of communism, HHRF has mobilized Western support for the positive initiatives and aspirations of Hungarian minority communities to restore their traditions of educational and cultural excellence in the contemporary context.
The Foundation is the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently, in 2011, László Hámos, President of the organization, was awarded the „Arany János” medal of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in recognition of his decades-long work on behalf of Hungarian minorities.
In 2012, inspired by Governor George Pataki, HHRF initiated ReConnect Hungary, a birthright program for American and Canadian youth with Hungarian ancestry that reconnects them to their Hungarian roots through a cultural and social immersion trip to Hungary.
The Foundation maintains the Attila Kertész Human Rights Internship and Exchange Program. Since 1984, 64 interns from around the world had the opportunity to gain proficiency in international minority rights protection. Interns spend 3-6 months in the Budapest office before spending 6-12 months at the Foundation’s headquarters in New York. Following their training, interns return to their native countries and apply their experience on behalf of their communities in various fields. Since October 2008, HHRF has hosted a year-long intern in New York through a cooperative effort with the Hungarian American Enterprise Scholarship Fund (HAESF).
Congratulations and many thanks for their invaluable efforts and work!