23 October 2006
The Hungarian Revolution 50th Anniversary - page 1
The Hungarian Revolution 50th Anniversary - page 2 - this page.
The Hungarian Revolution 50th Anniversary - page 3
The Hungarian Revolution 50th Anniversary - page 4
23rd October 2006There we were, Hui Chin and I arriving a couple of days ahead for the much anticipated Celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of our 1956 Revolution, freedom fight in Budapest, Hungary.
But we had already had some indications that not everything was as anticipated or expected.
Fifty years ago on the 23rd October,1956 the Revolution broke out in Budapest and some other parts of Hungary as well, that were preceded by certain events.
Today's Hungary is deeply divided and many of the population are very angry at the revelation of the now well-known content of a leaked recording of the Prime Minister admitting that they (The Prime Minister and the Government) were lying to the Hungarian people just to get re-elected.
"On September 17, 2006, an audio recording surfaced, allegedly from a closed door meeting of the Prime Minister's party MSZP, held on May 26, 2006, shortly after MSZP won the election.
On the recording, Gyurcsány admitted "we have obviously been lying for the last one and a half - two years."
As a consequence of this audio recording and the fact that the Prime Minister was not willing to resign, a series of demonstrations started near the Hungarian Parliament.
There were 5,000-6,000 demonstrators at first; later this number reached up to about 40,000.
The protesters demanded the resignation of Gyurcsány and his government.
The audio recording was deemed to be authentic by the Prime Minister himself.
Since September 17, there has been an ongoing demonstrations at the Parliament Building in Budapest.
Smaller protests were held in other cities of Hungary.
On October 1st, the government suffered a landslide defeat in the local municipality elections". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A BBC recording of the translated speech is here
As it was seen in the world press
The 23rd of October was the real Anniversary of the Revolution, because this was the day, 50 years ago, when the pent up frustrations and disappointments of the people of Hungary came to a head, although there were many things that happened before or were simmering under the surface. There are many different stories, official and otherwise, of how the uprising broke out, and even the official version misses some of the things I saw or experienced. You can read my eyewitness story of our "Freedom fight" fifty years ago here
or the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Hui Chin and I left home early this morning and went to the Basilica of St Stephen for the Memorial Mass at 10.00.
After the Mass we walked over to Corvin köz with a large number of people, - one of the places in Budapest made famous by the heroic resistance of a few people against the brutal Soviet attack, - where wreaths were laid at the feet of the "Pesti srác" (Budapest boy) and speeches were made in honour of the brave fighters and heroes of 1956.
We went to visit and revisit some of the other renowned places of 1956 once celebrations came to an end.
Some of my photos are on this page.
There were meetings, displays and photo opportunities all over the city in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary.
But the happiness, gaiety and joy that should have been there for the changes and achievements of the last 16 years were missing.
The members of the Government held meetings with overseas guests and local official guests celebrating the anniversary, but the mainstream of the Hungarian public was either barred from these events or they were boycotting the unpopular Government's functions during the day.
During this time and the following days the TV stations repeatedly played an incident, where at a presentation the recipients wouldn't shake hands with some members of the Government, again showing the unpopularity of the Government of the day.
Later in the day, around about 3.30 pm we joined the very large number of people listening and watching the celebratory speech of the main opposition party FIDESZ's leader Mr Victor Orbán around the Astoria Hotel in central Budapest.
We joined the meeting at Blaha Lujza tér (Square) and slowly made our way through the gathering towards the Astoria Hotel, about 800 metres or so.
Across the road from the hotel was a very large screen that Mr Orban's speech was being broadcast on and there were a few loud speakers strung along the roads leading to the hotel for the very large gathering expected.
The opposition parties didn't join the Government organised celebration, hence the 'Astoria Meeting'. (A short movie of mine is here)
By the time we got near the hotel about half past six or seven o'clock the speech was finished and someone else was addressing the gathering.
Hui Chin and I were on our feet most of the time since the early morning and we had to go for some refreshments and finding some conveniences.
Practically opposite the Astoria (As it is commonly known) is a Burger King Restaurant and we went there to have a bite, etc.
While I was in the 'boys room' I've overheard a security guard getting a phone call and when he finished the call, I asked him what's going on, because I only got snippets of the news, and he told me that there are some fighting going on between the Police and some demonstrators at Blaha Lujza Square.
After we left the B.K. we heard someone calling out that someone had gotten a tank going and was running around on the streets.
During the day wherever we went there was a very heavy presence of Police units ready for action, heavily armed with riot gear.
The Police tried to calm things down, but used an unexpected heavy handedness that we witnessed on the TV later that night and the next few days, when all the clashes were replayed again and again.
(I am a Hungarian and a veteran of '56, but I have lived overseas for the last fifty years and didn't want to get involved in present day Hungary's domestic affairs.
Firstly I personally didn't feel entitled to as I had lived in New Zealand for the past 49-50 years.
Another reason was that I didn't want to give anybody an excuse to blame visitors for overseas trouble-making or influence etc. as it so often happens.
Hui Chin was another concern as we went to celebrate the 50th Anniversary and I felt obliged to look after her safety and well being, it wasn't her fight at all, even being a committed sympathiser. In the background there is always another reason. I'm very shy and reserved by nature, although I can be 'assertive' if necessary as happened at previous times, like when I was the President or other office bearer of the 'Lion's Club' or our 'Parish Council', just to mention a couple.
But I have never joined any political party or organisations.
I maintain a slightly right-leaning apoliticallity and naivety).
We went and caught the next Metro home and watched the night unfold on TV.
As we all know by now there were clashes, brutality, teargas, rubber bullets, barricades, casualties and blood on the streets of Budapest again.
Some of the well publicised incidents
The following lines are quoted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
"On the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, clashes between protesters and the police were reported.
Mounted police charges, tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons were used to force back the crowd.
"Events started at 02:00, when Chief of the Budapest Police Force Péter Gergényi decided - in opposition to previous agreements with demonstrators - to clear out Kossuth Square.
The official justification was that the demonstrators "obstructed security checking of the square". (This was not completely true: hundreds of protesters left the square "extemporary" to make it easier for the police.
Only a grim group of 10-20 demonstrators lead by Ferdinánd "Satu" Lanczer stayed there. They were rounded up by police.)
Most of the crowd stopped at Nádor Street. Gergényi declared the area an "operational zone" and prohibited all demonstrations on the square and in its neighbourhood "as long as necessary".
Budapest Mayor Gábor Demszky declared he was not informed about these police actions and "at first glance" did not agree with them.
Police say that no one was injured in this action, but MTI (the Official Hungarian News Agency) reported "men with bloody heads".
The peaceful demonstration ended for a while, with smaller (mainly verbal) incidents between police and protesters noted.
Near St. Stephen's Basilica people started to muster again in the morning. Some of them made anti-government signs in English and wanted to take part in the official celebration on Kossuth Square with them, but policemen prohibited it.
Finally, the crowd began to march into Corvin Street, because there they could hold a minor, pre-announced (and therefore "legal") celebration.
The crowd grew, so Hír TV (News Television) reported ten thousand protesters according to "non-official police sources."
After the celebration some of the people started shouting "Kossuth Square" and "Let's go, let's go," and started off in the direction.
On Alkotmány Street they clashed with police forces, which made them retreat to the Cathedral.
At about 15:00, police started to dissipate the crowd with tear gas.
Protesters acquired an unarmed T-34 tank (a part of the occasional local open-air exhibition) and used it in a charge.
After only a few hundred meters the tank run out of fuel and its driver (said to be a veteran of 1956) was arrested before any serious damage was done.
At Astoria a peaceful celebration of Fidesz started. Despite their readiness (during the previous few days, hundreds of policemen were called in from the country to the city), police did little to defend the crush of radical anti-government protests that took place only 300-500 metres away and pressed nearer and nearer by police's gas attacks in the wide Erzsébet Boulevard.
That night and the next day many political analysts and congressmen brought up the idea that this police behaviour was not by chance.
FIDESZ celebration, with a participation of thousands, ended at 18:00.
That crowd could not be disbanded at all when police started a horse assault on Deák Square protesters. They used gun shells too.
The police shot gas grenades and rubber bullets in at head-height and didn't sort peaceful celebrants from protesters and provocateurs.
Many peaceful passers-by were injured.
There are lot of videos showing policemen, after tackling a demonstrator, kicking him.
A detachment of policemen entered a bar on Blaha Lujza Square and after a small debate, routed the vandals.
Policemen in most of the restaurants and pubs drove in guests (referring to safety risks) or drove them out (referring to that they search for radical demonstrators) and they used foul language.
They mistreated not only demonstrators, but bypassers, ambulancemen, foreign tourists, and reporters.
Even Parliamentarian Máriusz Révész was shot and beaten when he, showing his MP clearance in his hand, tried to protect their celebration from attacking police forces.
They ill-treated Jesuit priest László Vértesaljai, as well as two other priests.
The crowd escaped in the direction of the Danube River.
In Ferenciek Square and on a bridge over the Danube they built barricades from everything they found (including building operations materials, signposts, iron police cordon elements, cars and buses).
The number of injured people grew.
With a snow plow, police broke the barricade on the bridge.
128 people were reported injured, 19 of whom were policemen. At least two men were reported blinded in one eye from the rubber bullets.
In the country (e.g. in Szombathely), demonstrations started against "police terror"." Excerpted with my grateful thanks from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Andrássy út -
Andrássy Road - Displays
Thanks for coming, I hope you
have enjoyed it, will recommend
it to your friends, and will come
back later to see my site developing