Pécs adopts declaration calling on property owners to refrain from renting property to OSF grantee

December 14, 2017

Pécs adopts declaration calling on property owners to refrain from renting property to OSF grantee 1
“Christmas hate-mongering,” “Keep away from the civils,” “You steal, cheat, lie, people of Pécs had enough.” Citizens protest against the general assembly’s conduct at the Pécs town hall. | Photo: szabadpecs.hu

It was reported this week that Pécs’s Fidesz mayor Zsolt Páva and Fidesz MP Péter Hoppál called on residents of the southern Hungarian city not to rent offices to the Emberség Erejével Alapítvány (With the Power of Humanity Foundation, WPHF), which was recently awarded HUF 130 million (USD 500,000) from the Open Society Foundations to regrant to local organizations.

On Thursday, Szabad Pécs* (Free Pécs) reported that Pécs city council adopted a declaration calling on all residents and business owners in the city to refrain from renting space to the Emberség Erejével Alapítvány. (According to our sources, the declaration is not legally-binding, but certainly shows the city is willing to take a position that it looks unfavorably on property owners who would rent to the foundation). Opposition municipal representatives protested the declaration by not taking part in the vote. Jobbik representatives asked that the declaration be taken off the agenda.

According to Szabad Pécs, the pressure from the Fidesz politicians worked. The Emberség Erejével Alapítvány was subsequently denied the opportunity to set up offices in a building after the building’s owner blocked the building manager from entering into a rental agreement with the foundation.

What the declaration says

According to the declaration, “We, residents of Pécs, were shocked to learn that the foundation of Hungarian-American billionaire speculator George Soros wants to influence our lives, decisions, and elections by setting-up campaign centers (offices) in the countryside.”

It continues by explaining that the city wants to ensure Hungary remains led by a government capable of preventing “hundreds of thousands of migrants from destroying the future of Hungarians, their offspring, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, Christian Europe, and Hungary for the purpose of creating a mixed Islamicized continent and country.

“We call on every citizen of Pécs, every business and organization, not to provide space for these Soros campaign centers. Do not sell, rent or provide them access to your property! Do not help them carry out the George Soros plan in our homes, Europe, homeland, or beloved city,” the declaration continues.

OSF responds

According to a statement released by the Open Society Foundations (OSF) on Thursday, “WPHF has been working in Pecs for over 10 years, and focuses on promoting human rights and social solidarity through education programs and trainings for local communities.”

OSF goes on to call the declaration adopted by the city of Pécs “a clear violation of Hungary’s constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom of expression and assembly. This declaration restricting WPHF’s work is a blatant violation of the basic rights of every human being: the right to freedom of expression and the right of lawful organization. These intimidation tactics are reminiscent of the darkest periods of Hungarian history, in which groups politically critical to those in power were denied employment and access to public life, and critical voices were silenced by repressive state measures.”

*Szabad Pécs is considered by many to be the last bastion of a free press in the city. The site was launched after a media takeover in Pécs. It is a tremendous resource for Budapest-based journalists seeking information on the events unfolding there. Click here to learn how to support the work of Szabad Pécs.