Juke on a mission part 3: “You have the right to know”
They were everywhere, Juncker and Soros, their grinning faces on huge billboards along the high way, on posters at bus stops, on internet and newspaper ads and on letters that all Hungarians received last week. “You have the right to know, what Brussels is up to,” it reads ominously. From Budapest to Szeged, and from Veszprém to my local supermarket, there was no getting away from this government sponsored message. I have seen hundreds of them throughout Hungary this past month. Spreading lies about the European Union and migration. According to the Hungarian government there is a conspiracy in the making to force more migrants on Hungary and weaken boarder control. This is not true, but who will hear the truth, when the bombardment of lies is so loud and omnipresent? And the costs of these propaganda campaigns in the last eight years? A staggering €216 million of Hungarian taxpayers’ money.
World Press Freedom Day
You only seem to have the right to government propaganda in Hungary these days, as it’s hard to find a news outlet that does not have ties to the Fidesz government (almost 90 percent of the outlets is under government control). The right to freedom of information and freedom of speech are grossly violated. So it’s good to see that the three new Freedom Clubs are all organising events for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. They too feel the consequences of this government’s clampdown and want to do something about it. They are holding masterclasses, slam poetry evenings, video screenings and actions to mark the day. And students have invited interesting speakers who bear the brunt of these violations, like András Pethő of the online investigative journalist platform Direkt 36. András and his colleagues seem to be fighting windmills, investigating issues like government corruption, but their work is very necessary. Freedom Club Pécs would love to support András, learn more about his work and how Direkt36 is coping in this oppressive environment. The students are looking forward to his visit.
Meanwhile, in the streets of Hungary, the billboards and posters are replaced. The first billboards to go were the ones on the road from the airport, to show visiting EPP leader Manfred Weber, that there is nothing going on in Hungary. Weber made Orbán promise to get rid of all the posters and he did before 15 March, the commemoration day of the 1848 Revolution (ironically, the revolutionaries fought for freedom of the press back then. The billboards are replaced with posters showing families and slogans urging women to have more children, by giving them tax reductions. Good old family values or conspiracy theories about Soros–driven migration schemes, you only have the right to know these kinds of things nowadays, when it’s up to the Hungarian government. Fortunately, there are still people sharing a different story and standing up for human rights, like the Freedom Club students, to counter these awful narratives.
Our dear colleague Juke Fluitsma is currently staying in Budapest. She has worked for Amnesty International the Netherlands for 9 years, but last September she started a new adventure. Juke has joined the team of Amnesty Hungary to support their student activist and human rights education programme. In this first of a series of blogs, she shares her experiences with (student) activism in the country of Goulash, thermal baths and Orbán.
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