Budapest court upholds right to demonstrate in front of Prime Minister’s home

May 1, 2015

 

Juhász Péter

Together politician Péter Juhász remains both committed and defiant.  Fined HUF 80.000,- ($295) for organizing a flashmob demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s Cinege street residence on April 15th, and denied the right to hold a demonstration there on April 28th, Juhász seized on the idea of (1) organizing a demonstration in front of his own block of flats in downtown Budapest, and (2) organizing a demonstration in front of Viktor Orbán’s home in Felcsút.

In the meantime, a Budapest Court ruled that Juhász and his supporters could demonstrate in front of the Prime Minister’s residence.

“We can demonstrate in front of all of the Prime Minister’s houses” posted Juhász on Facebook on Friday. “And we will, as yesterday I announced the demonstration in Felcsút for the 15th of May. […] The Court of Public Affairs and Labor approved the revisionary request of Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) and abated the ruling which banned the demonstration of FX loan holders. The court took the position that an assumed violation of others’ rights is not lawful grounds for banning a demonstration” wrote the Together politician.  “Therefore we have the right to demonstrate in front of Orbán’s house and they cannot say that this violates others’ rights.  If it does, they can act. But in my opinion they won’t make a big deal over our dropping letters into a mailbox.  In light of what has happened, I wonder whether police will ban the demonstration” wrote Juhász.

Previously, Budapest police had rejected his application to hold a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s Cinege street residence on the grounds that it might “violate the rights and freedoms” of those living in the neighborhood.  Curious to know whether the police would be eager to protect the “rights and freedoms of others” living in his own neighborhood, the Together politician organized a demonstration in front of his own apartment block in Budapest’s District 5.

Juhász wrote in his Facebook post:  “I wonder whether it is only relevant in the case of Orbán’s neighbors and members of his family, or whether the police take the same care in the case of other citizens as well? Where I live the density of the population is much higher.  It is not in an area of single family homes, but rather six-seven story buildings, so more people would be affected”.

With the help of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) Juhász appealed the decision to the Court of Public Affairs and Labor in Budapest, arguing that Orbán has no special privileges just because he is Prime Minister.

“He has no privileges.  He is not a potentate. He is just a public servant and we pay his salary.  So we can demonstrate in front of his house just as at anyone else’s house. […] In a rule of law country the same rights have to be applied to everybody and must be taken into consideration even by a prime minister who is distanced from reality!” wrote Juhász on Tuesday. In his opinion the banning is unlawful, because according to the law on public assembly, no demonstration can be banned on the grounds that it violates the rights or freedoms of others” wrote the Together politician.

Not surprisingly it turned out that Juhász was, in fact, able to demonstrate in front of his own house without infringing anyone’s rights. The assemblyman posted on Facebook on Wednesday the followings: “I’ll keep going. I won’t stop until I get to Strasbourg. I’ll prove that demonstrations can be held in front of the Prime Minister’s house. I will see to it that if you want, you, too, can demonstrate there.”

Responding to the HUF 80,000 fine Juhász wrote “I will prove for them that the more they try to dissuade me, the more I will do it.” If they want to financially ruin me, then the community unites! […] If more money arrives than the amount of the fine, or we manage not to have to pay the fine, I will spend the money on anti-corruption activity. Needless to say, I will account with all forints in transparent way.”

Last week Juhász announced yet another demonstration, this time in front of the Prime Minster’s home in Felcsút. “If the soccer enthusiasts are not too loud for Orbán’s taste, then it won’t disturb him if we drop a letter to his mailbox.” Juhász wrote. “We have a good reason to drop a letter to Orbán’s mailbox as he stuffs our mailboxes with demagoguery” added the opposition politician.

Instead Juhász and his followers will be stuffing Orbán’s mailbox with letters demanding the dismissal of of Fidesz caucus leader Antál Rogán whom Juhász accuses of depriving District 5 residents of some HUF 500 million worth of revenue from the sale of district owned property while mayor.