HUNGARY | Ombudsman denounces police conduct at pro-Tibetan demonstration

"Measures taken against flag-waving pro-Tibetan demonstrators during the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Budapest, had violated the rights of free expression and human dignity, and the prohibition of discrimination"- revealed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights, Prof. Dr. Máté Szabó.

"At the same time, the prohibition of discrimination has been violated again, when too many number of Tibetans living in Hungary were forced to go to the immigration office for „data checking" on the day of the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister"- said the ombudsman.

During Mr. Wen Jiabao's official visit in Hungary on 24th and 25th June 2011, news reported on that several local police measures were taken against demonstrators and anti-China protesters, who were expressing their opinion by carrying Tibetan flags. Human rights observers criticized the actions of the policemen insulting the Tibet activists who wanted to demonstrate during the official visit.

Peaceful protests were planned by Tibet supporters, the Hungarian Falun Gong Association and human rights organizations during Mr. Wen Jiabao's visit.

A pro-Tibet support group said in a statement that a demonstration by refugees and activists was blocked by police at the site. A Tibetan man carrying a Tibetan flag near the parliament was stopped by a group of pro-Chinese activists carrying Chinese and Hungarian flags. Then, he was instructed by two policemen without any uniform and also refusing to identify themselves with any police ID; these persons put away the flag and leave the area. A cameraman who was filming the incident was forced to turn off his equipment. Meanwhile the pro-Chinese activists were allowed to continue their demonstration.

On 25th June, the Hungarian Immigration Authority cited large number of Tibetan refugees living in Hungary with residential and work permits, with the consequences to limit their rights for free expression concerning the Chinese premier's visit.

Being informed by the media, the ombudsman initiated an ex-officio investigation on whether the Hungarian authorities violated the rights of assembly, freedom of expression, and the prohibition of discrimination.

The ombudsman asked the Police Chief of Hungary and the Director of Hungarian Immigration Authority for information. From the responses received, Prof. Szabó has come to the conclusion that the police action was unnecessary and it had violated the right of free expression by checking those demonstrators who were carrying not Chinese or Hungarian, but Tibetan flag or banners of the Falung Gong movement. Police reports said that in some cases the only criteria for identity checking was the yellow T-shirts of the demonstrator. However, the ombudsman has not received any information on the real motive of police intervention:

Why did the police have to arrest already cooperative demonstrators? Why did the video recordings which were taken on the spot by civilians and members of human rights organisations no match the police reports? Despite his request, the ombudsman has not received the official video recordings taken by the police.

The report of the ombudsman also refers to the restrictions occurred by the Hungarian authorities on pro-Tibet demonstrators during Chinese Premier's visit were unnecessary and disproportionate. Furthermore, it is against the spirit of the previous decisions of the Hungarian Constitutional Court concerning the fundamental right of expression.

The ombudsman report contains number of proposals and recommendations directed to the police. The requirement of equal treatment shall be respected even in the course of increased security control; no one shall be discriminated because of his/her political view, or other kind of opinion regardless of it is truth or value content.


Source: Parliamentary Commissioner's Office, Hungary
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