Between Censorship and Revolution

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Between Censorship and Revolution
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The last two years have seen democracy, human rights, and the rule of law threatened in Hungary, and through its actions, the government has infringed upon the rights of many groups. Right-wing extremism has also been gaining more power, support, and visibility. In this context more and more activists groups and initiatives have emerged and have been fighting their struggles against these phenomena. Social media and creative forms of documenting human rights issues have greatly contributed to the successes of these movements. Challenges however are numerous. The presentation will focus on state control and rising extremism and newly emerging creative ways in the Hungarian activist scene to combat these. In cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung).
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the we are going to be so far so however March 15 2011 they're all around 25 of us went genders but the last nite this is the town 60 kilometers from Budapest and about 20 800 people that was recently taken over by so called local security forces extremists who have been threatening harassing following around the local Roma community around 450 people who live on the edge of the town we were there until around 3 AM talking to people the police is there but not doing much they hardly enter the roma part of town where the extremists are marching sometimes in the middle of the nite shouting and people going through windows with flashlights holding weapons like axes the extremists follow the roma everywhere they go to the store to the doctor to the school the kindergarten everywhere constantly harassing them many take of the penis in the middle of the the street to scare the kids these standing behind the school segregated two-thirds of the students are online they have to study in a separate for kids are afraid to go to school some haven't been for 2 weeks now due to the absence the state can withdraw the family transponders features are also threatening the kids saying things like will kill you
will call the godlike if you don't behave they also said the guard against entry to the school and the kindergarten which is when parents rounded to take their kids so most of them don't take the money or the kids can hardly sleep many of them the themselves gives a running home after the extremist so chasing them crying peeing their pants and refusing to leave the house again the whole community is terrorized to cut it short it seems like the only thing we can do is to go and spend the nights there looks like the police is willing to protect us which is ridiculous it takes 20 non-Roma for the extremists disappeared and the police to act ridiculous as it is this is the only tool right now so we're going back in groups comes and show support high everyone my name is that a question and and I'm a grassroots activist and ended up as Shangri I'm I'm active in a number of groups and last year I was active in in 1 of Hungary's new pro-democracy movements of call the 1 million for freedom of press and hungry Facebook group and also 1 of the spokespersons of Budapest pride and Siam active other grass-roots feminist
and queer organizing groups and also anti-racist initiatives in this is this is a letter which appeared on a blog that started last year of when the events took place in gender button and it's a great example of how grassroots organizing is working in Hungary and this is what I'm going to try to speak about today very briefly and I will speak about some examples of of very innovative grass-roots movements in hungary that use online media containing through social media music video advocacy and blogs and I'll try to do this through concrete examples of the 1 million for freedom of press Facebook group but Budapest brides and also informal activists groups and genders but the last year I will show you plot videos and songs and and I will talk about the advantages of this new techniques and also the challenges and I'm gonna try to very briefly put this in in the broader context of what's going on in Hungary and before I start I would like to point out that some this will give you a very limited view of all
the activist efforts that are going on in Hungary right now and they use very innovative and theoretical tools such as on civilians human chains occupations mass protests
flash mobs etc. so I can in no way do justice to all of them the last 2 years and during the last years have seen a serious backlash in Hungary with regards democracy rule of law and human rights at home as I'm sure most of you know and hundreds of that heard heard about it in the news so we've had um a conservative for those governments in the last 2 years gain the two-thirds of parliamentary seats at the 2010 elections basically making it possible for every know law an amendment to be parsed and making it possible for them to have control over basically every sphere
including laws Constitution economy human rights safeguards and the judicial system culture and media etc. minorities have also been very badly affected and further
marginalized especially including people were the largest minority in Hungary and also LGBT q people so lesbian gay bisexual trans and where people in the last 2 years but there is an agreement between human rights groups and activists that probably the best thing that comes out of all of this is that we have never seen so many protests and so much activism coming from all over the country so new groups have been formed existing ones have grown and would gained a lot more support and visibility than than before and state response varies from there have been attempts to to shut down demonstrations to silence messages from news on public media are very much distorted and scapegoating of activists is is very effectively working for what gold I guess for intimidation and I also and so for intimidation and 1 of the messages used by the state is that activists and we're working on these issues are doing it to are harming the reputation of Hungary which is a very dangerous message to add to the context and in the meanwhile rising extremism is is very scary in Hungary and we do have an extremist party in parliament and the the 2nd most important party right now we have about 20 hate groups scattered around the country and a couple of weeks ago we had the amendments proposed by this extremist parties such as the St. Petersburg laws that were recently adopted in St. Petersburg basically trying to ban homosexuality in anything on that the trace LGBT q people as being OK so I'm going to talk about online
advertising organizing use by these groups and the 1st Amendment talk about is is the 1 million freedom of press in Hungary Facebook group which was launched in December 2010 by 1 single activist and it follows 1 that demonstration as a reaction to on the media law changes in Hungary and the face group got over 70 thousand supporters of Facebook within a week right now it has about 100 thousand supporters and if the group is is very informal that's non-hierarchical it's not it's not institutionalized of fluctuation is great and so basically it's a group of autonomous and independent activists who happened to work together on certain issues but they're at the at no set boundaries for the group which is what makes it really unique expectations were really high words the groups of last year everyone was expecting them to to form a new political party as around 60 per cent of Hungarians I have no 1 to vote for so if you ask them they would say I don't know why I would vote in the elections were next Sunday which is a very scary number and it's a huge group of of of people with no alternatives left so there was a lot of pressure that this group should become a political party but it never well on the aims of the groups are to strengthen civil society to encourage people to speak out and to be active and form groups joined groups protester it also provides a platform for all this civil initiatives to be more visible and it wants to contribute to generating a process of of forming a new political elites in Hungary not by becoming a party but buying encouraging
people and facilitating the process and providing visibility and publicity to to active people from last year on the 23rd of October we've had the largest demonstrations since the political changes from over 100 were around 100 thousand people and leading up to the demonstration we wrote a song and to encourage people to come to tell them it's OK to put your face to a cause and if you don't agree or if you
don't like something then you should do something and the slogan of the protest was I don't like the system because by then we realize that all the different amendments changes in laws that the Fidesz government has put in place made up the system and we wanted to fight the system it's also against it's also about the disillusionment of the whole political elite so not only the current government but the political elites in general which led to the 60 per cent of people not having an alternative so I'm going to play the song from which which now has over 800 thousand views on YouTube for a week around the protester it was 1 of the most viewed and light and commented video on youtube beating behind Justin Bieber and beyond states the day and yes I enjoy I hope to
sound work and the the Internet works can you think
of it as much as the time that the energy of the what is perhaps not having the
changes in the in the in the and you can we you need to we in the so we
have the the we we thank you for the the the the we the the and the and the meaning
I mean she and the in the in
time the I thank you thank you thank you have to bring the of the number of the the people and a lot of it was and in the end if the and the the
only and I think the I think that being the and the thing about the and I
think the the a lot more about that in a way that you can
you can you can you can you can you can you can you all of you will find of itself that should give you an idea
so so what I wanted this 1 becomes so popular I I think it's because it's an entirely new form of activism it's it's an entirely new form of using their talents in your voice to say to talk about something that you believe in and to fight against something that you dislike um it traveled very fast in online spaces on which was great facilitated by Facebook being the platform for the movement and it has been called by it it has been called the song of democracy and its extensive debates about the lyrics the goal is to limit the restrictions of the songs that the song and whether this is a good form of activism and and I think this is exactly the goal we had to get people talk about what they can do and how we wanted to encourage them to find defined forms forms of activism and forms of action that that they feel good about and and that they feel great to participate and so on other actions that the group did and includes an alternative presidential election campaign and as you saw on the video but there were a lot of people who said I don't like the system and the way we did this was that we put out a call so people sense in the video saying I don't mind the system the purpose was to get people involved and make them active and this is also what we did with the alternative presidential election campaign and we we encourage everyone to nominate and be nominated so the group got around 40 nominations and the campaign was going on for weeks and so you have to you have to enter by submitting a video and and telling
people what you would do is the president and we had we had
we had such a great variety of videos on professors from old to young women and men and the homeless people students pop stars only directors of theaters it was a great mixture
and yet the purpose was was found to provide an
alternative to yes I can be sick of the system but I can also change it and I can be a tool a tool for that change so the companion and that's and we do have a winner now so everyone is everyone is hopeful about what the winners continuum and alternative is is is a very great concept because it can be an alternative to being a president it can also be an alternative to the current president we actually have a new 1 because the previous 1 resigned after plagiarizing 180 pages of his Ph.D. dissertation so that we don't need an alternative and anyway so I so I think this is also a great so some form of online activism and then using using online media to get people active about blogging and videos from there was an informal network of of activists from that organized extensively in the town of Danish but that I read the story about in the beginning of of this presentation and basically what happens
and a group of extremists once the town and uh there was also you'll be protests police not really doing much this went on for weeks and that's what activists started going and it took the police weeks-long weeks to actually act to actually effectively protect the Roma community um and there was a peak in the story which included Easter weekend when 1 of the permanent paramilitary extremist groups organized military training right next to the wrong part of the town so a lot of us organize activists who came from everywhere it was it was incredible to see so many people you don't know how so many people you don't have context to that so many people being active and and things stopped and no more than women and children were taken away by busses a few days before the the training so worried that day and I don't remember but before the training starts truck started and there was a huge scandal In international media about this and basically following news of these months there was a parliamentary committee set up to investigate what happened and to investigate how word got out to into international media which I I find ridiculous as a human rights expert and activists I think it's outrageous that the that the goal of the investigation was more it's due to matter who who's responsible for bringing shame to hungry by sharing the story more than figuring out who's responsible and what really happened there and so the report which which is now
final and goes into great detail about this 1 particular activity and parties and groups of that were agents and that wanted to bring bring the bread reputation and too hungry without looking at looking at the core reasons and without analyzing the
responsibility of the state so the groups and I have to to say I'm just talking about this informal group which had a blog and called the Danish but the solidarity . wordpress . org and but there were a great many groups that were active through week and so I'm I'm I'm gonna talk about this but the so again Digital solidarity I'm sorry I didn't say bookmark the idea of the blog was was exactly why we were called for on the bad guys around to get the word out to spread the message and to make sure that the news do not get stuck in Hungary because let's be honest who the hell speaks Hungarian outside Hungary except for the few people who were Hungarians living outside so it's it's very difficult to to get the word out so the idea of the blog was this and to translate articles which appeared in Hungarian and also to write personal stories so we a lot of stories from activists who went to the town we also organized actions in another town will tell you something top um where a woman was murdered by Roman men and there was a you'll be processed quantified Gypsy crime and gypsy terror and basically the roma out of population had to be evacuated from their own houses they had to leave part of town where daily lives and we had to stand with them behind a fancy basically being cut off from extremists who were marked were allowed to march between the houses of the it was incredible if you go goal and the neo . com and the Jaenisch but and you will find from the user and the GUI PHC and and we also have the about what happened in the assignment and we recorded the protesters were recorded the hundreds of and Roma people and activists and other people who were who were concerned that came to the town and how it was tested and how the children spoke about the events which was extremely scary and completely being aware of the danger and completely being aware of the fact that these people would want to kill them and they would have to do so any time so this is also an example of of the different tools so blogging and also videos to get the word out there and the 3rd group that I wanna talk about this is Budapest provides last year the Bush spread was registered in a bit of a spread thousand 11 was registered the previous September and the police and gave Commission without a problem then the roots was extended and the police refused to give a permanent so we have to take it to court we won and approach by was on on this year the exact same thing happened we register the pride march and the police refused to give a permit they went into details in 13 pages about how how would disrupting traffic and how for instance using busses instead of trolleybuses that for the environment so pride much should not take place but so as a response to native video and we
decided that we're not going to do that we
poor LGBT people are so discriminative and marginalized and don't
know what to do but we decided to be fierce and fabulous so here it comes the and the can the and the the so around at
the time
yeah and the money coming in and out of the out of that is
going to work with them and that would of the I don't think that we are all
right so what did you think about it so what do you think that you know the
usual thing about the me yeah so in the
so come july 7th Budapest we do need a lot of support and solidarity and then we received quite some in the last couple of years from from activists from all over the region which is really great so yeah so as to the court ruled that we can march and the marches on again but at the same time as I mentioned before we'll be the extremist party and submitted amendments to problem to homosexuality to also basically band pride march on people who same-sex people were holding hands kissing in public can be fined for of 250 thousand forints which is like which is a lot of money out of it's crazy and so my reaction was was both what and it was laughing you know I mean it's ridiculous but this is the context this is the quantity that we live in an end it's a tough 1 so to sum up I think the advantages of both of these new techniques are 1 of the new they're cool and they draw attention and this is relatively easy to do now hungry because these techniques are pretty new but for instance the 1 million group has been using it the video support messages of relatively famous people in support of protests and it has become kind of boring after a while so I think there's
often there's danger that it's neutral now but it will become quite dull and in Hungary it's new blood around us not so much but we using it and I think it works really well and I think it's good it's interesting for people that it's fine not a boring manifesto it's not a proton and not in the team but it's an exciting form of activism and music and videos and personal stories appearing on blogs involves people emotion alot more so you you feel more attached and it's also like and I hate to say this but it has become like selling the products you know I'm in the package's greatest school music it's great faces smiling people positive positive sentences and messages so you basically by the cost and that's pretty easy to digesting consume and you identify with it easier it spreads really fast because of facebook and and the internet it's also really great people currently faces to causes and it encourages others to stand up and voice their points in the challenges of the basically the pairs of the advantages so as I said it's it's it's cooler new but it can but get boring and it spreads really fast and Facebook and internet but that also means that it only reaches a limited number of people so those that do have internet access and or Facebook um it puts places to causes that great it restricts that so people start to identify causes with 1 or 2 faces which is not very good at it provides it provides publicity and 2 people were active but it also puts them in potential danger so oftentimes when we ask people to participate in this video is the answer is very often and I'm sorry I can't I'm afraid or I'm sorry I can't I might be fired from a job so that's difficult on an interval are often afraid to talk so I think these are the these are the main advantages and challenges and I do believe that to continue to build a strong civil society and to encourage people we we must not stop and then especially in this current context and everything that is happening in Hungary right now it's it's essentially push push these actions in groups and messages forwards forward I do not want my parents like I do not want to live in fear like they did under communism and I also do not want my grandparents life and I don't feel like I'm in the thirties and the forties which is very often feel in Hungary now and I'm not the only 1 so people much eventually learn how to be active make their voices heard and say stop no more and yet if if be it might the you expose yourself if necessary and I know that that's dangerous and scary but but I think we cannot make history repeat itself and and not only those of us in Hungary have a responsibility from and task but you you also do have 1 to share their stories to spread the message because you also have the opportunity to speak out and your attention and I think that's the only way to think but but the release of the that