Civilians and politicians staged a protest in central Budapest on Sunday after a contested monument dedicated to the victims of Hungary’s German occupation had been erected overnight.
The plan to set up the monument for the 70th anniversary of Hungary’s Nazi German occupation was announced at the end of last year and it has been heavily criticised by opposition parties and civilians ever since, stating that it distracted attention from the nation’s role in the Holocaust.
The protesters in Szabadsag Square formed a live chain that included Ildiko Lendvai of the Socialists and Tamas Bauer of the Democratic Coalition (DK), with some of the protesters pelting eggs at the monument. MTI’s local correspondent said other politicians who attended the event included the Socialists newly elected chairman Jozsef Tobias, co-chair of E-PM Gergely Karacsony and DK deputy leader Peter Niedermuller.
Police and riot police were present.
Police told MTI on Sunday afternoon that reports had been submitted against three of the protesters for violation of peace, including egg pelting, and police checked the identity of a total of 11 protesters.
DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsany said Prime Minister Viktor Orban was “falsifying the Holocaust” by getting a monument “confusing the murderer and the victim” erected “in the shelter of the night.” He accused Orban of dishonouring all Jewish, Roma and gay victims of the Holocaust and added that it was “characteristic of the regime that it did not dare set up the statue of falsehood during the day.”
The opposition E-PM said in a statement that the monuments would be removed if a centre-left mayor is elected in Budapest at the upcoming local elections this autumn. It said the monument fails to serve objective and peaceful remembrance but attempts to deny the responsibility of the Hungarian state.
The Hungarian Liberal Party said in a statement sent to MTI that instead of being a reminder of the horrors of war, the Nazi occupation monument has become “a memorial to the arrogance of the Hungarian government.” It shows that the Fidesz-KDNP party alliance does not want to promote genuine national reconciliation and jointly face the past.
Pal Steiner, Socialist candidate for mayor in district 5 where the monument stands, announced on Saturday that the Budapest Court of Appeal had rejected an initiative on a referendum for preventing the erection of the statue.