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]