Hungary: The Hungarian Guard Banned

A long and complex story seemed to have reached its end some weeks ago. A paramilitary association called the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) of the Hungarian extreme-right party Jobbik was banned at the beginning of July after more than a year of investigation by Budapest Court.

In December 2008, Eva S. Balogh of Hungarian Spectrum reported on the first decision made by the court:

[…] It's hard to believe, but the first round of court proceedings against the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda in Hungarian) is finally over. The judge agreed with the chief prosecutor's office of Budapest that the Hungarian Guard is illegal. Illegal in the sense that it is not a cultural association. […] The prosecutors sent the indictment over to the Budapest Court on December 17, 2007. Exactly one year ago. The court was in no hurry. The case initially appeared on the docket in March 2008. […]

There were some problems with the creation of the Hungarian Guard in 2007:

[…] The case was a little tricky because the organizers of the Magyar Gárda tried to insulate the troops from any litigation against the alleged cultural organization. They created a separate legal entity comprised of the uniformed fellows with their black boots and insignia suspiciously resembling that of the Hungarian Nazis of Ferenc Szálasi. It was legally distinct from the original organization with its self-described cultural mission. Thus we had a Magyar Gárda Mozgalom (Movement of the Hungarian Guard, the troops) and a Magyar Gárda Egyesület (Association of the Hungarian Guard, the so-called cultural association). It was with this legal separation that the lawyers working on behalf of Jobbik, the extreme right party responsible for the creation of the Hungarian Guard, tried to save at least the uniformed units that belong to the Movement. […]

As Eva S. Balogh writes, the verdict of 2008 clearly declared that the separation is not enough to defend the existence of the Guard:

[…] This court case addressed the Association, not the Movement. However, this is still a blow to the whole Hungarian Guard because the judge very rightly pointed out that the Movement and the Association are in a symbiotic relationship amply demonstrated by the changes made in the original documents, by the signed documents of cooperation between the two organizations, and by the financial interconnections that exist between them. The judge decided that the Hungarian Guard's main aim is to spread fear among Gypsies. Judge Pataki noted that the Guard is also antisemitic because in a speech a spokesman of the Guard talked about “Zionist rats, locusts, and grave diggers of the nation.” The judge pointed out that all these activities are unconstitutional and not in conformity with Hungary's international obligations. […]

The judgment was appealed and after the first round verdict Gábor Vona, Chairman of the Hungarian Guard Association, stated in an interview:

[…] Either way we will continue, even under a different association or civil group, we will serve our nation. […] The Hungarian Guard Movement is not affected by the verdict, even the Judge confirmed this. The verdict is about the Association. Indirectly the court confirmed that the Guard will carry on and I can also confirm this. […]

In early July, the final verdict was pronounced. Eva S. Balogh of Hungarian Spectrum wrote:

[…] It was last December that the presiding judge in a lower court found the Hungarian Guard guilty of violating the rights of an ethnic group. The lawyer representing the Guard appealed. Today the Hungarian Guard both as a “cultural association” and as a “movement” was found guilty as charged. […]

Gábor Vona announced an official demonstration for the Hungarian Guard three days later, right after the day of a spontaneous rally that was held in the center of Budapest and disbanded by the authorities., an extreme right website related to Jobbik, stated:

Hungarian Law categorically permits demonstrations within a 72 hour window of contemporary events, without any form of prior permission from the authorities. […] The subsequent protest, held by a few hundred members of the Hungarian Guard, their supporters and members of Jobbik, was in response to such a contemporary event. Namely, the ruling by the unelected judges of the Budapest Appeals Court on July 2, which called for the disbanding of the Hungarian Guard. […]

The website reported that the protesters surrounded by the police sat down to keep on holding the peaceful rally:

The police responded with a series of callous attacks against the seated demonstrators, in an all too common display of the facial spraying of tear gas at close range and the brutal beating of protestors regardless of age or infirmity. […] The police were compelled to forcefully remove and arrest the demonstrators by snatching them individually and dragging them away. […]

Also Gábor Vona was arrested as responsible for the spontaneous rally. The second demonstration that was officially announced on July 11 was finally held peacefully. The organizers stated that they would relaunch the Hungarian Guard. At the rally, recently elected Members of the European Parliament (MEP) were present in black-and-white uniforms of the Guard. reported that three days later one of the delegated Jobbik MEPs, Csanád Szegedi, was wearing the Guard's uniform at the inaugural session of the European Parliament, which was condemned by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.


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