Large Scale Rioting Taking Place in Hungary, September 2006
By Janos Kartikeya
September 24, 2006
Exclusive to www.educate-yourself.org
September 23, 2006. Over 50,000 people demonstrated in Kossuth Square, in front of the Parliament of this Central-Eastern European country of 10 million people. They want the government to go, and they won’t quit. Last night, they were over 60,000 protesters, according to observers.
Riots broke out on September 18 all across Hungary, after people had read or listened to a leaked unpublicized speech by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, originally delivered on May 25 before a strictly closed audience of less than two hundred elites from his ruling Socialist Party, in a small resort town near Lake Balaton. In that speech, the Prime Minister stated that he was totally fed up by the fact that his party – and, by implication, the entire coalition – had constantly been "delivering lies" to the people who re-elected them over a narrow margin, barely a few months ago.
Gyurcsány said in his taped speech:
“It’s obvious that we’ve been lying all through the past year or two. It could be clear to anyone that what we were saying was untrue. And in the meantime, we did nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. […] We were lying in the morning, lying at noon and lying in the evening...”
News of his leaked speech broke late Sunday evening. By Monday, the main arteries of downtown Budapest were closed down by tens of thousands of demonstrators and every major city had hundreds or thousands of demonstrators on the main square, with most people demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister. In Budapest, events turned slightly violent – the demonstrators wanted the state-owned public TV station to read their demands in its broadcast, but they refused. The protestors, in turn, tried to enter the TV building, and began to clash with riot police who stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the buidling.
Szabadság Square, the entrance of the public TV across the US Embassy.
Picture from Indymedia, Sept. 19.
Later, seven cars were set on fire, Parisian style, while the crowd grabbed the hoses from the firemen. The fire spread to a part of the TV building for a while.
Around 2 a.m., the State Channel stopped broadcasting. Protestors damaged the Soviet Monument of Liberation, but nothing happened to the US Embassy which sits on the other side of the same Szabadság (‘Freedom’) Square right opposing the Soviet Monument.
Demonstrations had been going on all through the night, and continued the following day. The total number of protestors had decreased the next day, but the violence had increased. The police, who were largely non-violent on the first night of the demonstrations, turned progressively more violent; applying tear gas and rubber batons. By Wednesday night, the Police had dragged people from their cars if they were located near the sites of the demonstrations and damaged several cars ir order to blame the “right-wing” demonstrators *(see the explanation under section 2 of the use of the terms “right” and “left” in Hungary).
Demonstrators forced on the pavement by police – from index.hu, via Indymedia Sept. 20.
On some TV and radio channels, Ministers and politicians of the ruling Socialist-Liberal coalition blasted the rioters and called them names, while Mr Sólyom, President of the Republic (elected into office by nomination of a small Green organization on a stalemate between the two major parliamentary blocs) was demanding an apology from the PM. He
did not get it.
During the following day, certain sites in downtown Budapest were vandalized by angered mobs, as police became more and more abusive. Larger and larger masses continued to gather on Kossuth Square everyday in front of the Parliament with posters, but reports indicate that there was little violence there. Although CNN and Reuters were covering the events, it was difficult or impossible to get foreign coverage of the riots from within Hungary.
Ironically, the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising against the Soviets is due in four weeks, with local elections scheduled for October 1st.
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