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. [Read More]

Hungary: The plight of a Budapest city park

varosliget1In the last few days the Hungarian media has been full of stories about clashes among three groups in Budapest’s famed park Városliget (City Grove): the so-called “grove defenders” (ligetvédők), members of a private security firm recruited from skinheads hanging around football stadiums to protect the demolition/construction crew, and the Hungarian police.

Városliget is one of the oldest city parks in the world, dating to around 1810, although work on it continued through most of the nineteenth century. By now Városliget definitely needs a face-lift to restore it to its former beauty. But what’s going on right now, in the opinion of the grove defenders, is the destruction of the park as a public space for recreation as well as a source of respite from all the stone and brick that makes up Budapest, especially its Pest half. It is being turned into a “museum quarters.”

Viktor Orbán, most likely at the suggestion of the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, László Baán, decided on the creation of a museum quarters. But the idea of clustering museums was in reality just attractive packaging of what amounted to an eviction notice. Several galleries currently housed in the former royal palace must move because Viktor Orbán wants to put the core of his government where in his opinion it belongs, the ancient seat of the Kingdom of Hungary. [Read More]

Budapest: Activists occupy major park to stop unwanted development

201606_ligetvedok_budapest_1A small group of committed activists in Budapest have set up a camp in Városliget, or City Park, to stop the government from clearing trees for the construction of a new museum quarter.
In October of 2015, the Hungarian government approved an approximately $729 million master plan for erecting new buildings in the oldest and biggest public park in Budapest, which is also known as “the Liget.” The construction is part of a controversial park renewal plan called the Liget Budapest Project.
The project’s website boasts the transformation of the Liget into “a world standard, complex, family-friendly cultural and recreational park” bringing in annually an additional million tourists. However, the plan involves reconfiguring the park landscape for construction, including removing hundreds of trees and existing infrastructure — something many citizens do not support.
On March 17, when workers from Városliget Zrt., or the City Park Property Development Company — the business that is contracted to renovate the park and construct the buildings — began clearing trees in an area that is marked for the construction of the Hungarian House of Music, a group of 15 to 20 activists arrived to stop them. Determined to protect the trees and the park, the activists are still there 15 weeks later. [Read More]

Budapest: Városliget, occupied park

201603_ligetvedok_budapest_1A group of determined people have stopped the government’s plans to cut down trees in Budapest’s biggest and most loved public park, Városliget, at least for now. How long will they be able to do so, we’ll see. The government wants to remove the museums found in the Royal Palace and relocate them to a to-be-created museum quarter carved out of the park. It is a very costly mega project that is just as unpopular as the compulsory Sunday closure of shops. Spending all these huge sums of public money, without any transparency, in a time when schools and hospitals are falling apart, is absolutely unnecessary. People understand it’s about two things. First, to distribute the EU funds Hungary receives among loyal friends who get these projects well overpriced, and so our Prime Minister can finally move in the castle where the Hungarian kings lived. A true story of rags to riches: from a mud-brick shack on the edge of a village to the Royal Palace. If people let it happen. [Read More]

Hungary: Joining forces? Conservatives raise their voices

varosliget2I will start this post with a piece of news that at first glance may not seem especially noteworthy. Viktor Orbán’s grandiose plans for rebuilding large portions of Budapest include the creation of a “museum quarters,” part of which would be built in Városliget, the Hungarian capital’s more modest Central Park. The city, especially the Pest side, is very short on green areas, and from the very beginning many people objected to the project on ecological grounds. Others objected to Viktor Orbán’s burning desire to move his office into the historic castle district, within whose medieval walls Hungarian kings once resided. Today parts of the royal castle, built in the nineteenth century, are used to house the National Library and the National Gallery. Among Viktor Orbán’s extravagant plans is the reconstruction of the monstrously huge royal castle, which requires moving both the National Gallery and the National Library elsewhere. The trouble is that there are no suitable buildings where these two important institutions could be relocated. Hence, the idea of a “museum quarters” and perhaps even a new building for the National Library somewhere near the National Museum in downtown Pest. All this would, of course, cost an enormous amount of money and would, in the process, destroy the “city park.” [Read More]

Hungary is about to criminalize homelessness once again

By passing a new law that would criminalize street homelessness, the Hungarian government is once again about to violate the fundamental right to human dignity, defy the country’s international obligations, and go directly in the face of the judgement of Hungarian Constitutional Court.
[Read More]

Budapest: Thirty housing rights activists arrested

On the 19th January 2013, homeless activists and their allies squatted an empty building in the 7th district of Budapest. The squatters demanded the institutionalization of a right to housing and an extensive system of social housing instead of punitive measures and overcrowded shelters. The activists were arrested and now face misdemeanor charges because of disobeying police instructions.
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Budapest: Report from AK57

See also:

Report from Squatting in Budapest with AK57

Already over half a year ago the first attempt of political squatting in Budapest since years started. Even though the house was evicted after only 2 weeks and this without any big resistance from the inhabitants (surely due to their lack of experience) we feel that it was a very important step. Also some of the squatters got “infected” by the spirit of communal living & acting, so they went on with a legal house/center project: AK 57. We hope that this project will go on and others (also new squats) will emerge. (ABB)

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Budapest: FISH exhibition project

Hello good afternoon.

Last weeks, in Budapest, a group of people has established a community to organize the exhibition called FISH. This exhibition is going to take place in many cities and villages all over the world in the same time. We have already got in contact with squats and art communities in Scotland, Greek, Germany, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Slovakia and Italy.It is something like an underground movement. This exhibition is going to be organized everywhere from the energy of the local people. We would like to clearly disintegrate every destructive and nihilist elements. We do not like the consequences of the materialist capitalist world either. But instead of destroying we would like to create (sorry for being demagogue). [Read More]

New Squat in Budapest

On Friday, 30th October squatters occupied Centrum, formerly the Uttoro Aruhaz (?pioneer shopping mall?), a vast former supermarket in the centre of Budapest. Teams of people connected water and power, built kitchens and loungerooms, and redecorated walls that were covered in 1980s porn with art, posters, and slogans in Hungarian, English, Spanish and Italian. An exhibition of found objects from the space includes transparencies of communist propaganda and ancient safety messages. Days of cleaning were followed by evenings of intense discussion. Within a week the space was converted into an infoshop, cafe, cinema, gallery, freeshop, library and residence. The building has been here since the end of the 19th century and was a supermarket from that time until 2001, since then it has been empty. Budapest squatters are, in part, campaigning for their right to housing. There are many abandoned buildings in Budapest and 30,000 people are homeless; with winter approaching the lack of housing is life-threatening. In addition the squatters are working to create a social and cultural space and a place to organise established projects such as food not bombs, indymedia, and other cultural and political collectives. Centrum squat opened its doors to the public on Sunday, 7 November with a cafe, music performance, and screening of films about squatting and the history of Budapest as well as exhibitions about the building and other vacant properties. With a warm reception from neighbours and the community the occupiers had high hopes of staying in the space. Many representatives of mainstream and independent media were invited to the opening and the squatters made the nightly news and front-page news in both major Budapest newspapers with very positive stories about the opening of a much needed cultural centre.

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