TEK bans Budapest protests during Merkel visit

February 2, 2015

Shortly before midnight on Sunday Hungary’s Center for Counter Terrorism (TEK) ordered the removal of Gabor “Tuareg” Szabó’s protest encampment from the Kossuth square in front of the Parliament building.  Those present at the time could not reach Szabó because allegedly his mobile telephone had been disconnected from the network.  At 8 am this morning (Monday) TEK banned the “NowUs” protest planned for today even though the organizers possess the necessary permits and a TEK representative had inspected the location.

Szabó wrote on his blog that the demolition had taken ten workers several hours to pack the tents and furnishings onto three lorries.  He also reported that all streets within 500 meters of Kossuth square had been closed, presumably in preparation for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit.

Protesters present at the start of the raid were not able to reach Szabó whose phone had allegedly been ordered temporarily disconnected by TEK.  If someone tried to call him they only got the message “the called number is temporarily not available.”  Word reached Szabó via an alternative route, and he himself witnessed the Budapest Police execute the order given by TEK director János Hajdú.

According to Szabó the order is valid from Sunday midnight until 6 pm Monday, that is for the duration of Merkel’s visit, and that the tents and furnishings will be returned to him Tuesday morning.

Szabó wrote on his blog that it was “the world’s slyest action, worthy of [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán and his system.”  He said he was taking the necessary legal actions.  However, he feels this will not be sufficient and for this reason has already called a demonstration against the police state for Saturday.

“NowUs” demonstration also banned

At 8 am this morning police informed the organizers of the “NowUS” protest scheduled for later today that TEK had decided to close the entire Pollack Mihály square on the occasion of Merkel’s visit, and therefore it would not be possible for the demonstration to be held at that location.

This happened despite “NowUs” organizers having notified authorities on January 2nd of their intention to hold a demonstration at that location and remaining in continuous contact with them.  In fact, a representative of TEK even inspected the location.

“NowUs” activists are at the location and looking for a solution, according to co-organizer Bori Takács.  In her opinion the procedure constitutes a serious violation of the rights of Hungarian citizens who want to protest, and thus they would request legal assistance to determine what options are available to them given the current situation.

According to the organizer’s website, the demonstration will be held at the same time but in a different location to be disclosed in the near future.  “Come out everyone and show that WE ARE NOT AFRAID!”

The new location is the pedestrian walkway between the Kalvin square and the City Szabo Ervin Library.