STATEMENT of NGOs on police negligence – Participants of Pride March Attacked in Hungary

Posted: júl 28, 2007 in ! english, politika & aktivizmus

We, the undersigned organisations are appalled at the fact that the police failed to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) march with appropriate force and methods. We demand that those responsible be called to account and measures be taken to prevent further similar cases.

 

The police violated the Act on assembly when they did not dissolve the counter demonstration against the LGBT march after it became obvious that the counter demonstration arrived armed with bottles and Molotov cocktails. Under the Act on assembly the police must dissolve an event when the participants arrive armed. “Any object fit to cause death or physical harm and [used] with the aim of violence or threat” is considered a weapon under the Act, thus the bottles and Molotov cocktails that the participants of the July 7 LGBT march were attacked with were weapons. The Act on assembly leaves no room for consideration for the police with regard to armed assemblies, thus the police proceeded in an illegal way when they did not dissolve the counter demonstration. This provision of the Act on assembly is aimed exactly to prevent such attacks as happened at this year’s pride march. With this breach of the law the police left the peaceful demonstrators exposed to the extremist groups.

The police aggravated this violation with further negligence when they failed to protect the peaceful demonstrators in other ways. The violent counter demonstrators were throwing bottles at the participants of the pride march from arm’s length, threatening their life. While several participants were injured from bottles and splinters, the police was present only sporadically. Many colleagues from our organisations witnessed and documented the police simply watching the counter demonstrators throw eggs and bottles without acting. Through this, the police officers perpetrated the crime of “endangering through professional negligence.”

The police failed to ensure the safety of the participants of the events after the march. The pride march ended at the club Buddha Beach, which the police held closed for hours because of the threatening presence of the extremist group. After lifting the closure, the police was present for a few more hours but failed to patrol in the area. That is why it was possible for gangs of demonstrators to beat up more than ten persons in nearby parks and streets by 1 a.m. The police should have demonstrated with reinforced and highly visible forces that they would not tolerate further attacks against participants of the LGBT event.

Certain police officers showed impermissible negligence and victim blaming attitudes-in sum homophobia-when proceeding in this case. When one activist of our organisations called the police during the closure of Buddha Beach and made inquiries on how long the closure would continue and urged the police to more effective action, the officer replied that she chose to participate in the event therefore she should take its consequences. The officer added that the police does not restrict her freedom of movement, she may leave free-into the group of violent counter demonstrators. With this cynical attitude, the officer on duty shifted the responsibility to the participants of the event for a situation that the counter demonstrators caused and the police had a responsibility to end.

The police denied help from victims in several cases. During the night, the officer answering the call of one of the victims of queer bashing replied that he would not send anyone because he had been on duty since seven in the morning, and his working hours were over. In another case the police refused to intervene saying the attack had taken place, therefore there is no direct threat to life. In a third case two lesbian women asked a group of police officers to escort them past a group of neo Nazis. The police officers refused to do so saying they had been deployed with a different purpose. In all three cases, the police officers had a duty to intervene, since it is not true that the police must act only when there is bloodshed. The police also has a duty to prevent crimes and to arrest suspects of crimes. According to several eye-witnesses, easily identifiable groups wearing swastikas and other symbols were assembling in the area. The police had a responsibility to prevent further crimes by these groups and to track down suspects by identifying and watching these groups. Through this, the police officers perpetrated the crime of “endangering through professional negligence.”

It is our conviction that the above behaviours do not simply reflect the isolated attitudes of the police officers proceeding in these cases but show that hatred against LGBT people is widespread among the police.

We are aware that the police is being criticised for its actions against earlier right-wing riots and we presume that this had a role in why the police was afraid to act effectively against the attackers. Meanwhile, the police also has a positive duty to act even when it is considering how it could make its operation legal and transparent-this shall not be the reason or pretext to fail to provide protection.

We consider the actions of the police extremely negligent as all these crimes could be foreseen, yet the police did not make preparations to prevent them. Violent attacks could be expected in a situation where a provocative extremist group organises a counter demonstration against the pride march. Neither is it a surprise that the extremist groups stayed in the area of the event after the march, and perpetrated violent crimes.

We wish to call attention to the long-term consequences of police negligence. The events last Saturday left a general feeling of threat in every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Hungary who now have reason to be afraid that the police will not protect them when they become victims of hate crimes. Failure to intervene encourages not only the perpetrators from last Saturday to further crimes, but sends the message to other criminals that crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people are permissible.

We demand that the government propose an amendment to the Act on assembly that enables the police to refuse authorisation of an event when it is organised at the same time and place as an event authorised earlier and there is due reason to believe that participants of one event may attack the participants of the other. We demand inquiries into who is responsible for the failure of the police to provide effective protection to participants who were exercising their right to assembly in full legality. We demand that procedures be brought against criminals at and after the pride march. We demand that the police draft and accept a code of procedure on the security of future pride marches and events related to them in consultation with LGBT organisations. We demand that the police, together with LGBT organisations, select, train and employ police officers who are aware of the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and who will proceed in cases of crimes against them.

Budapest 8 June 2007

Patent – People Against Patriarchy

Gemini Dance Club

NANE Women’s Rights Association

END OF STATEMENT
This statement is for unlimited distribution, publication or quotation.

For further information please contact Patent.

Contact for the press:

Gabor Kuszing
gkuszing@netstudio.hu
+36-70-2525254

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