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Budapest, Spectacular performance ended up in short-term-arrest of activists

On 11 November 2011 the group City is for All (AVM) held a demonstration in front of the municipality of Budapest’s 8th district claiming that local mayor Mate Kocsis repeal his proposal to impose a 530 euros fine on homeless people or 60 days of imprisonment for "residing in public places"

Despite the heavy protests of local and international actors, the proposed legal amendment is still on the Parliament’s agenda, decision will be made on Monday, 14 November 2011. When the performance was finished citizens expressed their solidarity with AVM by a sit-in in the municipality building demonstrating how unacceptable it is to punish certain citizens due to their social circumstances. Dozens of police persons arrived to the scene in the end to get the activists out of the building and subject them to short-term arrest.

During the past year the grassroots homeless group protested against the government’s measures tackling mass homelessness as a criminal issue. At the Friday performance they turned Kocsis’s office into a prison symbolically and sent their message to the mayor through the window: “we are human beings”. When the demonstration was finished solidary citizens started a sit-in in the municipality building holding signs such as “Humanity” or “The poor are not criminals”, claiming the repeal of the proposal and a formal right to housing. The peaceful demonstrators were sitting on the ground in the mayor’s secretariat and on the corridor. The police took them out one-by-one, put them into police cars and took them to the nearest police station. 

“We have been continuously claiming for the repeal of this cruel proposal for nearly a year, in various forms, and protested against all the other punitive measures of the current administration. Parliamentary representatives have to acknowledge the general indignation: they have to repeal the proposal” – said Attila Takacs, homeless activist of The City is for All.

The anti-homeless politics of the current Fidesz government lead to heavy protests both on the national and the international level in the past months. Hundreds of people protested against the imprisonment of homeless people in front of the Parliament at the demonstration organized by The City is for All in October; and the group’s petition has already been signed by more than 1000 people. A number of organizations have voiced their solidarity and objected the criminalization of homeless people. Among others the Sant'Egidio Community, the Social Work and Social Policy Department of Eötvös Loránd University, the Hungarian branch of Habitat for Humanity, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the consultative forum of homeless service providers in Budapest, and the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA)and the International Alliance of Inhabitants .

According to The City is for All it is absolutely intolerable to fine, or imprison homeless people due to their social status and get them out of sight by punitive measures. The group is claiming that the mayor, satisfying the national and international demands, repeal the proposal; and, as a Parliamentary representative, do his best to achieve that every one has appropriate and affordable housing in Hungary. 


Preceeding activities:

Demonstration in front of the Interior Ministry (responsible authority for the amendment of a law making it possible for mayors to ban "residential habitation in public spaces") - autumn, 2010

Petition against the ban on "residential habitation in public spaces"- autumn, 2010

Demonstration against the mayor of Budapest who enacted the first order banning "residential habitation in public spaces" - April 2011

Open letter to Parliamentary committees discussing the proposed amendment of the Petty Offense Law - summer, 2011

Participation at Parliamentary committee meetings discussing the proposed amendment of the Petty Offense Law - summer, 2011

Open hearing discussing the proposed amendment of the Petty Offense Law – summer, 2011

Open letters (more than 500 pieces) to Antal Rogan, one of the well-known Parliamentary representatives proposing the amendment of the Petty Offense Law; and a request for an appointment - autumn, 2011

24 hours advocacy action in the 8th district - autumn, 2011

Housing not prison! Petition  against the criminalization of homeless people.

Demonstration  in front of the Parliament against the amendment of the Petty Offense Law - October 2011

Background info:  The City is for All was founded in August 2009 by homeless, and formerly homeless activists and their allies who fight for a society based on equality and justice.

Contact:  Mariann Dosa, mariann.dosa@gmail.com , +44-0755-4387-634

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