After a year-long demonstration for free-press, protestors removed by force

An 11-month demonstration in front of Hungary’s public media office was brought to an end this month after protestors say they were forcibly removed from the site by security workers.

According to Balázs Nagy Navarro, organizer of the demonstration outside the Media Services and Asset Management Fund (MTVA) headquarters, some 30-40 security officers arrived at the site early on the morning of November 2 and removed the demonstrators.

Navarro reported that the security workers used physical force to drag two demonstrators out of their tents and placed a fence in front of the demonstration site.

According to reports, the site was being vacated so that a statue could be erected.

Navarro and other protestors have been camped in tents outside the MTVA headquarters at Kunigunda útja in Buda since December 2011. The demonstration was sparked by a public TV news decision to digitally remove the image of the former Constitutional Court judge from a newscast. Navarro, who was at the time a reporter for the public media, quit his job in protest, and joined with fellow demonstrators to show their concerns about government interference in public news broadcasts and other obstacles to press freedom since new media laws were passed in 2010.

Navarro claims the demonstration was legal, and that protesters were exercising their right of assembly. “Previously the MTVA used several deterrent methods to discourage us from demonstrating, such as playing two songs around the clock almost for a week at full blast (via loudspeakers) or illuminating the site with flood lights,” Navarro said in an interview to Standard Media Monitor.

A Socialist Party MP said the disruption of the demonstration should be discussed by the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, but the government majority voted down the MPs motion.

Navarro said he reported the incident to the police.