We have not been able to use public spaces to fulfill their important public function for 175 days, and counting. Dog walking, coming and going, shopping, queuing, sitting out on a restaurant terrace, drinking a beer – all of these activities are now permitted again in public spaces. However, if we want to hold an assembly, a protest march or a standing demonstration – that is still completely forbidden. We continue to be totally deprived of our fundamental right to assembly. We protest! Total prohibition is not the answer.
‘There is also a pint of beer with my name on it,’ said Viktor Orbán on Kossuth Radio on the Friday before the re-opening of restaurant and pub terraces. Even during a pandemic, the Prime Minister’s words flow freely through Government communication channels and Government-controlled media. His opinion reaches everyone, and he shapes our daily lives and the future of the country without any restrictions, governing by decrees thanks to the umpteenth authorisation acquired. .
However, we have been waiting in vain to regain our right to assembly for more than 175 days.
It is our fundamental right to express our views publicly, to stand together on issues that are important to us, to show solidarity, to draw attention, to exert pressure, to unite, to protest. For more than 175 days, we have not been able to use public spaces to fulfill their important social function. Dog walking, coming and going, shopping, queuing, sitting out on a restaurant terrace, drinking a beer – all of these activities are now permitted again in public spaces. However, if we want to hold a assembly, a protest march or a standing demonstration – that is still completely forbidden.
There has been a blanket ban on for all forms of demonstrations in Hungary for over 175 days, including: virus-safe demonstrations, two-person demonstrations, car demonstrations, bicycle demonstrations, spontaneous demonstrations, student demonstrations, and ‘absolutely no matter what’ demonstrations – all forms of public protest are prohibited.
The ban is automatically enforced by the police. They do not examine whether it is justified, because the ban is prescribed by the Government.. Nor does the Kúria (Supreme Court) doubt whether it is unconstitutional because it was prescribed by law, and the ban as a protective measure ‘cannot be questioned responsibly in view of the pandemic situation’. The Constitutional Court is inundated with complaints filed with the help of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, but has not yet examined the ban because it is not compelled by any deadline.
Additional constitutional complaints can be filed until May 10 by anyone wishing to take legal action against restrictions on the freedom of assembly. For the time being, this is the only legal remedy available to file against this violation..
The possibilities for domestic legal remedies have been exhausted.
Unheld demonstrations are an irreparable loss to society. The ban not only has stifled the personal views of potential protesters, but also eliminated an important form of social dialogue. The same period during pre-pandemic 11 November 2018 and 4 May 2019 saw 1,350 demonstrations held in various parts of the country, with a total of 230,000 participants.
There is no reason to assume that the demonstrating mood has faded, and with each day that the protest ban is maintained, countless opportunities continue to be lost. Each additional day is one further violation committed to the detriment of all people living in Hungary. The opportunity for the electorate to express its views to those in power then and there is lost forever.
You cannot demonstrate right now, but no one can forbid you from publicly expressing your opinion.
Write a caption, make a drawing, use a symbol. Pin it on your backpack or windbreaker, put it on your bike or hang it out the window, stick it on your car or write it on your mask. Take it with you, wherever you go, and take advantage of the possibilities allowed by the current restrictive measures without allowing the unjustified deprivation of your rights.
It’s important that you stand up for your opinion, and don’t let yourself be silenced by a superficial pint of beer.