Police go after Együtt again to prevent disruption of Orbán’s March 15 speech

March 14, 2017

Hungarian authorities are doing everything they can to prevent Együtt chairman Péter Juhász from heckling Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s March 15 national holiday speech. After last week’s rejection of the opposition party’s permit application to set up “whistle-distribution points” near Orbán’s speech, police have now rejected the party’s application to set up Hungarian tri-color ribbon distribution points as well.

Juhász has organized several protests in recent months where he encouraged attendees to disrupt government events by blowing whistles. Police, intent on preventing a repeat, visited Együtt’s offices last Thursday to inform Juhász that he would not be permitted to distribute whistles to demonstrators during the March 15 celebration.

“They simply cannot do this,” Juhász said of the police sanction. “But we will be there on March 15 and we will whistle at Orbán. Because the police told us that they would not allow us to operate our three whistle-distribution points, I will announce another six tomorrow. If they restrict those too, then I will announce another 12. If they restrict those, then we will announce that everyone is a whistle-distributing stop because it is unacceptable that they would unlawfully restrict our right to express our opinion.”

In an effort to skirt the whistle-distribution ban, Juhász informed authorities that his party would be distributing celebratory ribbons (kokárda, traditionally worn by many Hungarians on March 15 as a patriotic symbol) around the city, which would each come with a complimentary whistle. In a statement released on the party’s website, Együtt encouraged “everyone who disagrees with Viktor Orbán’s illiberal policies” to show up and heckle the prime minister during his speech.

But according to Együtt, Budapest police rejected the party’s permit application to distribute the ribbons.

Ranking Fidesz politicians and members of the government have been condemning any potential heckling of the prime minister, namely any attempt by Juhász to disrupt Orbán’s commemoration speech.

Last October, during Hungary’s October 23 national holiday, Juhász and several hundred demonstrators turned up at Orbán’s commemoration speech outside parliament and heckled him with loud horns and whistles. The prime minister was visibly distraught by the noise. Orbán supporters were upset, and instigated violent scuffles with the demonstrators.

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