Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested Hungary’s media law in Budapest on Tuesday, on the day marking the anniversary of the 1848-49 revolution and war of independence from Habsburg rule and the day of press freedom.
Anna Vamos, the protest’s chief organiser, said demonstrators were dissatisfied with amendments to the media law and believed they failed to bring the legislation in line with European Union norms. They also protested the media authority’s power to arbitrary levy fines on media outlets.
The protestors packed into the space in front of a stage erected at one end of Elisabeth Bridge, on one of the capital’s busiest streets.
Renowned Polish journalist Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of daily Gazeta Wyborcza, told the protestors that one could not speak about freedom in a country where freedom of the press is endangered. Michnik sent a message to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whom he called an old acquaintance, to think about how many of his one-time allies were watching the government’s measures with concern.
Speakers, none of them politicians, also criticised the draft of Hungary’s new constitution, saying that the new supreme law should be approved based on a broad consensus and not without a referendum.
The police did not report any disorder.
The organisers said the demonstration was the biggest civil protest since the 1989 regime change.
Demonstrations against the media law were also held in the Hungarian cities of Debrecen and Gyula, as well as at the Hungarian embassies in Berlin and Bucharest and at Hungary’s Consulate General and UN representation in New York.