HCLU is Defending the Activists Who Peacefully Disobeyed

Lawyers from HCLU are defending a number of young activists who have recently been charged for occupying the headquarters of the governing party, FIDESZ and for blocking traffic around the Hungarian Parliament. The response by the police to the demonstrations was meant to instill fear and to scare people away from similar acts in the future.

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On March 7 a group of young activists occupied the party headquarters of FIDESZ to demonstrate against the fourth amendment to the Fundamental Law. On March 11 – the day the amendment was adopted – the group blocked traffic by the parking lot at Kossuth Square in an attempt to prevent some Members of Parliament from entering Parliament. 

The activists acted in defense of democracy and fundamental rights in a public and peaceful manner. They went beyond their basic right to assemble in order to call attention to an emerging injustice. However, they did not use force, cause any personal injury or material damage, or violate anyone’s fundamental rights. They publicly justified their actions and accepted all legal consequences. 

HCLU noted that the activists went beyond the limits of the law on peaceful assembly, but did not commit any crime. Even if one could find a law that prohibits their peaceful demonstration, they could not be prosecuted for their actions. In a general manner, and in specific cases, the Parliament and courts have provided immunity for civil disobedience during the history of the Hungarian democratic and rule of law state. Therefore, lawyers from HCLU believe that the courts cannot find the activists guilty.

HCLU emphasizes, the police’s actions to round-up and detain the activists were unreasonable and unnecessary and meant to instill fear and scare people away from similar actions in the future. The actions of the police send a clear message; the emerging autocratic regime seeks to break any democratic movement in its infancy.

As Andrea Pelle, the head of HCLU’s legal aid program, noted: “The activists did not commit any crime, and their actions were not a danger to society, therefore they should not be punished.” 

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