- 13 Apr 2017 1:35 AM
According to the protesters, the bill, aimed at the registration of civil organisations using foreign donations, would curb the freedom of thought and hinder the operations of civil society. Addressing the crowd, CEU student Luca László said that while “the government sees civil (activists) as foreign agents, they are actually the ones that stand up for a free and democratic Hungary”.
The government’s bill, if passed into law, will stigmatise “those that unselfishly work for Hungarian people”. TASZ managing director Stefánia Kapronczay said that the government “seeks to scrap” her organisation, which “works to ensure the freedoms that everyone is entitled to”.
The government wants to “eliminate the free press because they (the government) cannot tolerate different opinions”. Protesters held up signs reading “We are civilians, Hungarian, and free” as well as “I stand with CEU” in reference to Budapest’s Central European University, seen as impacted by a recent higher education law amendment. The protesters held up a huge “CIVIL” sign in the square and formed a heart around it “to symbolise society’s support”.
Ökotars Foundation director Veronika Móra said the work carried out by civil organisations was important for society. She said her foundation would continue on with its operations, arguing that “we were here before the government and we will be staying longer [than them]”. Móra said the state also receives funding from abroad. “Is it okay for the government to waste the billions it receives from Brussels?” she asked.
Nóra L Ritók, head of education foundation Igazgyöngy, said civil organisations fill in the “operational gaps” in the workings of the state.
She said civil groups also functioned in areas “that don’t even exist to those in power, for instance, among those living in poverty”. She said her organisation was forced to accept funds from foreign foundations such as those backed by US financier George Soros or from Swiss and Norwegian funds, because their applications for government and European Union funding regularly gets rejected. Demonstrations were also held in Miskolc and Szeged.
Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.
MTI photo: Balogh Zoltán
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