The Hungarian Guard demonstrates in Budapest

Undaunted by the court ruling, uniformed members of the Hungarian Guard demonstrated today in Budapest. By now the demonstrators have more or less been mopped up by the Budapest police. I tried all afternoon to piece together the various reports, but I'm still not sure how many demonstrators we are talking about. Reporters on the scene gave different numbers at different times, and it's hard to tell how large this demonstration actually was. The highest estimate I saw was eight hundred demonstrators, of whom three hundred were in the uniform of the Hungarian Guard. The rest were sympathizers. Another, presumably more precise number mentioned was the 127 people who were arrested and put into paddy wagons, including Gábor Vona, president of Jobbik.

It seems that both sides are learning. The guardists arrived in small groups at Erzsébet Square dressed only in white shirts and black pants. They carried the rest of their uniform, which they donned upon arrival. Several times the police asked the demonstrators to leave the square in the direction of the Astoria Hotel. Instead the guardists sat down on the grass hanging on to one another. The sympathizers chose a less peaceful way of protesting: they started throwing beer bottles at the policemen. A newspaperman working for Index, an online paper, was also attacked. So the guardists are learning from western models of civil disobedience but so are the police, who removed the guardists one by one.

An hour or so after the beginning of the demonstration the police started to press the crowd off the square, but it took another hour to get to the point that there were only about forty uniformed men left. The sympathizers were harder to deal with. Even at 7:00 p.m. they were ready to do battle with the police. There is a jazz club at Erzsébet Square and the demonstrators started removing tables and chairs to prepare some kind of barricade. Eventually the club simply closed. Meanwhile it was beastly hot and several people became ill. The encounter had interesting moments too: an older demonstrator jumped into the pool, clothes and all. See picture of the square. Erzsebet terGábor Vona was apparently removed from the scene around 7:30. Shortly after this the police moved in with full force, using nightsticks, gas spray, and tear gas.

According to one internet paper two people had heart attacks; medics were on the scene. By 8:00 p.m. the square was cleared. Only a few groups lingered and complained loudly on nearby streets. Others, numbering about 150, were pushed toward the Astoria and continued marching on Rákóczi Street toward the Eastern Station. I assume that they have dispersed since.

Lawyers working for the ombudsman's office were also on the scene and told reporters that "they will be investigating." They will ask for all documentation from the police and will form their opinion only after a study of these documents. I'm a bit puzzled about this investigation. After all, the demonstration was illegal and the Hungarian Guard is no longer a legitimate organization. What is there to investigate in this case? But this ombudsman's mind works in mysterious ways.

One thing is sure: never have the police acted so resolutely (and competently) and never have they arrested so many people. Obviously the court's verdict strengthened their resolve and gave them courage. What will happen after this? If I have to predict: the usual mess. But at least this time the law seems to be on the side of the police. For some fantastic photographs, here is a link. No wonder that there were medical emergencies. Some of the warriors are old and in terrible physical shape. There is a priceless picture of one woman waving the red and white striped flag and a fellow with a very big belly. Click on "Képgaléria"  under the first picture in the article http://www.fn.hu/belfold/20090704/vege_belvarosi_balhenak/

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Hungarian Patriot
Guest

I was there demonstarting and there was a crowd of approx 3 to 4 thousand plus 216 people were arrested. Police were brutal at using battons and tear gas while the demonstration was peaceful.

Hungarian Patriot
Guest

The peaceful demonstration was rejected by the corrupt police dept even though on several attempts the peaceful demonstrators asked for permission, where is the democratic rights for people to demonstrate in Hungary? It’s plain black and white that the police dept is being controlled by the corrupt entities who don’t have the Hungarian peoples interests at stake. No way will the Hungarian people who follow the truth will stop now, so you rats will have to scurry out of the country or will be jailed, the bolshevik regimes days are coming to an end. Hira Magyarok!!! Szebb Jovot!

Godot
Guest

I would not want to be a Hungarian policeman when the regime change finally arrives.
In a country where a lowlife scumbag, like Draskovics can be justice minister, the Garda is not the problem, it’s the result.

worldswonk
Guest
What an almighty mess. How do the authorities think, one portion of Hungarian society will react at having their right to free assembly forcibly denied them, when they observe another portion being granted it with (pardon the pun) gay abandon i.e. The Pride Parade? “never have the police acted so resolutely (and competently)” I can’t believe you’re giving a big thumbs up to this utter madness. You’re obviously having a whale of a time enjoying the “fantastic photographs.” Well I’m sorry if I can’t share your enjoyment. You see, I don’t care if the people sat at the Erzsébet Tér were reincarnations of Eichmann and Himmler themselves. The beating and close quarter tear gassing of seated demonstrators – you know, that technique that Ghandi used – has no place in any European democracy. They obstructed no thoroughfare they were sitting around in a place in Budapest where people, erm, sit around. This viciously intimidating behaviour is rather commonplace on the Erzsébet Tér in the summertime. Had it been carried out by 150 túrista instead of Gárdista nobody would have batted an eyelid. And the police would have patiently waited at a distance for everyone to get thirsty and then toddle… Read more »
worldswonk
Guest
“You’re mistaken if you think that democracy means “anything goes.” No, it doesn’t. Otherwise, we have anarchy, chaos, and eventually dictatorship. No way, as far as I’m concerned.” Equally, a constitutional democracy requires that there be an independent judiciary and a politically neutral police force. Not so? Saturday’s demonstrators are far, far from alone in believing that Hungary has NEVER had either. Do you deny this? Otherwise, you have a plutocracy which rules and makes laws predominantly in their own interests. Remind you of anywhere? This is what happens in the constitutional democracies of Iran and Russia for example, which equally believe as you do that ‘illegal’ demonstrations “must not be allowed.” Such regimes also use the bogus threat of potential anarchy (Putin in Russia) and dictatorship (the Mullahs and the Shah) to silence any opposition to their views. Correct? Incidentally, if the appropriateness of the police’s behaviour is being questioned by the ombudsman, as you say. And the ombudsman’s job is to decide whether it is or isn’t. Why do you feel equipped to categorically pronounce to the contrary, and question the working of his mind into the bargain? Perhaps the ombudsman shares my own opinion that a constitutional… Read more »
Kincs
Guest

If constitutional democracy means banning groups that promote hatred and racism, then count me in. These notions have no place in a civilized society.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Mr Kincs I whole heartedly agree with you. The Hungarian Public Order acts allow organisations to demonstrate (peacefully), but before they do so they have to ask the local police first. The Court of Appeal ordered the Magyar Guard to be dissolved. Therefore it no longer exists and its request to be allowed to demonstrate could not be granted. The demonstration was therefore illegal. The police acted well and in a restrained way. In the pictures I saw several images of people suffering from heat exhaustion being treated by the police. The police seemed to be using ‘pepper sprays’ not tear gas grenades. ‘Pepper sprays’ only act locally when they hit someone, Tear gas is more indiscriminate.
I also saw many pictures of demonstrators wearing ‘respirators’. These guys wanted trouble. They came equipped for trouble and they found it! So when they were arrested they should have been very happy.
I notice we have all the usual suspects (with changed names)

worldswonk
Guest

“Intimidate heterosexuals? You must be kidding.”
Erm, yes I was. Hence my parenthetic retort of “yes, yes absurd I know” which you (sigh) failed to cite. Really, this sort of out of context quotation says more about you than it does about me.
And I doubt I’m the only person to notice that in choosing for some reason to pounce on a hypothetical postulate you fail to answer the question which terminated it.
Namely, if the shoe was on the other foot, and we were transposing one freedom under the European Convention on Human Rights (sexual orientation) for another (political affiliation – no matter how distasteful) “would you be so vocal in your applauding of the police and condemnation of the demonstrators’ illegality?”
Do you feel yourself able to answer it now?
(By the by, remind me again what the ‘phobia’ part of ‘homophobia’ means…)

Godot
Guest

kincs, Eva and Odin are very afraid of something. No, it’s not police brutality, and certainly not the freedom of people of whom they don’t agree with. So what are you afraid of, and why do you find the Hungarian Guard so intimidating? They are totally harmless and much more disciplined than the Gestapo dragging them away.
Care to tell me what is it really you are so terrified of? Are you some kind of MSZP/SZDSZ sympathizers? It must feel awful…

Sandor
Guest
My Dear Kincs: (Draga Kincsem!) Your analogy with the gay parade is woefully inept. The gays are not an organization and they don’t deign to represent anybody except of course, themselves. They don’t claim to represent any population, don’t aspire to parliament and don’t demand to “reform” the country, or indeed the world. They are also harmless, except to those latent homosexuals, such as yourself and all those skinheads, who can hardly resist to join and can by violence alone pretend their disapproval. Although, if they were so much revolted, they could simply stay away from the parade. Nobody forces them to be present. Here in Toronto a week ago, more than a million people went to see the Parade, ( which means that half of the entire city was there!) over two days, it brought in the city billions of tourist dollars, and the whole thing was a gigantic party, enjoyed by all. And, believe it, or not, I have not heard of one single individual, who forsook heterosexuality under the influence of the Parade. But of course, those too prudish to look at naked men and women shaking their body to the music, could just stay at home,… Read more »
Godot
Guest

Sandor obviously prefers public display of obscenity over public display of patriotism. Well, it’s your choice, unlike you, I tolerate people with different tastes and opinions, even if I find them disturbing.
Your blind hatred of the Guard keeps you from seeing the truth. Why do you find it so troubling if a small percentage of Hungarians decide that they’ve had enough of the destruction of their country and want to preserve some of it? Let’s face it, the past 20 years turned out to be a huge disappointment. Things keep getiing worse as we see one corrupt government after the other. So what if Jobbik wants to turn the trend around and try to reintroduce basic values? I cannot say I fully agree with them on everything, but I understand their motivation. And since we no longer have a military to speak of, kids don’t have to spend two years marching in uniform any more, so they join the guard to learn some discipline. As long as they don’t hurt anyone, I have no problems with that,
Your kind of “liberalism” will not save this country. “Hungary is for the Hungarians” just may do it.

Katalin
Guest

Godot:
“Unlike you, I tolerate people with different tastes and opinions, even if I find them disturbing.”
“As long as they don’t hurt anyone, I have no problems with that”
I’ll get back to you about this after September 5th, when people thinking like you expressed their tolerance by throwing eggs, stones and god knows what else on participants of a legal, peaceful demonstration in Budapest.
And before you start again about “public display of obscenity” justifying violence: just watch the pictures and videos of last year’s Budapest pride parade, and compare them to say the one in Vienna, London, Toronto. It looked more than a family outing than a Pride Parade.
The Guard has no clue about the queer segment of Hungarian society, all it wants is to parade on Andrássy as well, but was’nt allowed to (see Vona interviews on Origo and Index). That’s what they are so upset about.
Professor, thank you for your blog, I enjoy it a lot.

Godot
Guest

Katalin,
Did you see me throwing eggs at anyone? Of course not. I wasn’t even there. “People like me” probably stayed away as well. You seem to have some serious prejudice issues. Deal with them first.

worldswonk
Guest

Sandor
I will be brief. I have no time for people who prefer accusation to argument.
Go back and read my language again, carefully.
You are the second person to think that misrepresenting a question is the same thing as answering it.
If you think that prudishness is unacceptable you are a fascist: it is not for you to judge. And if you think Magyars are prudes you are blind: ever heard of Hungarian porn? What Hungarians are, in my view, are believers in sexual liberation in the private sphere and reticence in the public sphere. In this they represent the world’s majority view-Doofus-only-fair-you-did-call-me-a-homophobe.
Sorry for the hyphens but this is apparently what you have to resort to on this blog to prevent yourself being quoted out of context… lovely.
Get it through your heads, all of you, making something illegal does not make it go away. Neither does it necessarily, (ask an Uyghur in China, or a homosexual in the “constitutional democracy” of Iran) make something wrong.

Godot
Guest

“a primitive nazi and homophobe”
You call me a primitive nazi? You’re the one who cannot tolerate other people’s opinions, and you love police brutality.
Homophobe = normal heterosexual who finds public obscenity distasteful. Is that bad?
Try to go beyond issuing labels, it’s so primitive. Are you incapable of intelligent arguments?

worldswonk
Guest

“Godot: “You call me a primitive nazi?”
Yes!”
Ms. Balogh, please feel free to call, me, ANYTHING you like. A bird-brained flat-chested homophobic midget with fascist tendencies, an unsightly skin complaint and chronic halitosis. Really, anything.
Just first, please, answer my straightforward question; I don’t think I need repeat it for a 3rd time, do I?
Or are you going to (a) ignore it, or (b) reject the validity of an overt hypothetical? Surprise me…

worldswonk
Guest

oops, missed one, ahem…
or, (c) quote me out of context again to deliberately imply I am stating something I am not.
There, that’s all bases covered I think.

Katalin
Guest

“You seem to have some serious prejudice issues. Deal with them first.”
I’m as prejudiced as you’re tolerant.
wether you’re actively violent yourself or condone violence by the guard, jobbik, HVM and all these other lovely patriotic citizens against a legal peaceful demonstration is the same thing to me.
And I’m not discussing this with you.
Professor, thanks. Please keep it up.

Godot
Guest

Eva S. Balogh obviously incapable of reading more than one line at a time.
Attention deficit is a disorder, get help. Finish elementary school and come up with intelligent responses. Can you do that?
Katalin, you’re confused beyond repair.
“condone violence by the guard”
1. I never condone violence, so where is this coming from? I posted because I didn’t approve the conduct of the police. These people enjoy their job too much.
2. The Guard is not a violent organization, they (unlike the police) are disciplined and unarmed.
You people are so full of hatred, your “tolerance” is phony and pretentious.

Öcsi
Guest

Kincs wrote: “If constitutional democracy means banning groups that promote hatred and racism, then count me in. These notions have no place in a civilized society.”
You can count me in too.

Godot wrote: “You call me a primitive nazi?”
Eva Bologh responded: “Yes!”
I’ll second that!

What really troubles me about Hungarian right wing extremists (be it the Gárda, Jobbik, MIEP, etc., and their apologists!) is that they don’t see, or can’t understand, that they are fighting other Hungarians. Or at least they are fighting Hungarians who don’t look exactly like them when they look in the mirror.
This type of extremism is hurting Hungary today and will totally cripple it in the future.

Sandor
Guest
I apologize then for my fleeting confusion, but it was irresistible to make the joke. So let me deal with the charge of: “Sandor obviously prefers public display of obscenity over public display of patriotism.” The matter of oscenity is not just in the eye of the beholder, but also is a question of community standards. If the community, in this case the people of Budapest, can accept gay people on the streets, (and not just in single “units” as they are indistiguishable that way,) but in a group, then who is that nazi, to claim this to be unacceptable? Patriotism on the other hand is wasted in demonstrations. You should go and work for your country if you are a patriot, because with your marching and slandering of others you realy do no favour to anybody, least of all to your country. Actually, you are an embarrassment to your cause, to your community and to your country. You can wrap yourself into all the national colours you can find, but if that is the best you can do, then you have really done nothing, except showing yourself off to the fool that you are. I hope, this is clear… Read more »
Godot
Guest

“Godot wrote: “You call me a primitive nazi?”
Eva Bologh responded: “Yes!”
I’ll second that!”
Brilliant.
Can’t beat them, call them nazis.
Please rename your blog to something more accurate, how about
“Distorted, ultra-liberal misconceptions about Hungary”.
Or just leave Hungary out of your discussions, and I will not waste any more time here.

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