Hungary: Call for support from Occupy City Park Budapest

20160318_Varosliget_BudapestHello! We in Hungary are in deep protest. The government decided to demolish part of our City Park (Városliget). We don’t like this. So on march 17th 2016, when they started to cut down trees, it was enough. Men and women jumped over the fence, broke the barrier and it was over. Since then, we occupy the area. It is a pretty big complex more than 5 buildings, several floors with its own garden and parking area in the middle of this huge park. There are over 20 people living here now. We build, create, imagine. We started actions outside of camp too, with more or less success. This created lot of attention from the public, so the power holders decided to take action. This is where everyone comes into picture. We need help. We need to grow rapidly, to transform. We need people from all over the globe with experience in nonviolent protest. We have food, place to sleep, love to share. Please please help us with your presence.

Statement from Ligetvédők, Occupy City Park Budapest

We the Ligetvédők (Occupy City Park Budapest) have been occupying this area for more than 100 days, for we think it is unjust and harmful to transform Városliget (City Park) into a museum district (Liget Budapest Project). We are locals, civilians and experts, among whom many have been protesting for years against this huge prestige-investment.

The propaganda for the Liget Budapest Project investment has been going on for almost 4 years, despite a survey of IPSOS, which shows that 75% of the Budapest citizens are against new buildings in the park and the professional resistance is also massive.
A referendum was started about the Liget Budapest Project, but the government simply created a new law in order to stop it. In the past years we could only take part in fake, pretended conciliations which ignore the common weal. We have demonstrated, protested, collected nearly 100,000 signatures and we organised forums for professionals. We made use of every opportunity to press the contractors of the Liget Budapest Project to take into account the rightful opinions of the professionals and the civilians, as it is about the future of one of the World’s oldest and the inner city’s last real common park. The government’s reaction is a flow of new regulations and laws, that were and are still made in order to let the government do with this park whatever they want.

ligetvThe City Park has been the property and beloved community place of the citizens of Budapest for 200 years. During this time many children have learned how to bike here, locals come here to run, do yoga, walk dogs, have picnics and even to sledge in the winter. Each year millions of people come around here, who want to be closer to nature.

Many empty or raunchy areas would be available for the government all around Budapest, if they would like to build cultural centres and museums, considering the capital city’s and the locals’ demands. Many alternative plans came into existence years ago to allow that.

The more than 11 billion Forints (Hungarian currency) -from public money- already spent on the project would have been easily enough to renew the unfortunately long-time neglected park. Despite of that, the goverment wants to spend further 250 billion Forints to mutilate the park, by putting up at least 5 monstrous buildings, which would come with cutting down around 1000 trees. This move would worsen the -already bad – quality of the air of Budapest and would cause great environmental damage in the park’s ecosystem.

The plans of the Liget Budapest Project weren’t even ready yet, when in March trees were cut in the planned building area for the Hungarian House of Music. Vigilant and brave activists risking bodily harm stopped the action and the arriving locals occupied the area (which beforehand used to be an open-air pub). The civilians and the professionals, who protested earlier united with the activists, started the Ligetvédők movement and founded the Ligetvédők Camp (Occupy City Park Budapest). For more than 100 days we have been protesting and have been working solely voluntarily as a spontaneous group of individuals so that the demands of the professionals and civilians after all these years can finally be heard.

Many thousands of people have visited our camp,expressed their solidarity and their gratefulness or joined our movement. Our page in 3 months got twice as many supporters -without a paid campaign- as the official page of the Liget Budapest Project in more than 2 years, that actually is spending all in all 450 million HUF public money only to advertise their project.

We don’t hold on to ruinous buildings, nor to fatally sick trees. But we insist, that the professionals and the citizens have the right to have a voice in the future of the City Park. So if the citizens don’t approve the planned 300,000 tons of concrete and the bedding plants on the top of deep garages and new buildings (said to be ‘green areas’) instead of the real green spaces with trees and bushes, then no one can decide to take away the common park of Budapest and transform it into a tourist attraction, only so that their self-centered financial interests are gratified.

Let’s take back from the government our last real common park in Budapest, before it is too late!

roll [dot] ligetvedok [at] gmail [dot] com

UPDATE 07-07-2016: We have been evicted from the squat by heavy police force, like 300 policemen for the 20 inhabitants. Now we are camping in front of the former squat, we are building up a tent camp. Anyone experienced with situation like this is more than welcomed.