Sajtótájékoztató – Nyílt levél a Strasbourgi Emberjogi Bíróság Főbírójának angolul

We find it astounding that the Court was not able to sense that the symbols of the dictatorship called Socialism – the five-pointed red star in our case – carry an unbearably painful meaning, especially in our region.

Therefore, we find it absolutely necessary to inform you and through you the Honourable Court on our existing knowledge and views that contradict the judgement.

Our organisations and the acceding individual signatories utterly agree with Decision 14/2000 of the Constitutional Court of Hungary that states that the symbol carries a highly influential message, which – with respect to the subject of the judgement − refers to an ideology and practice that justifies mass violation of human rights. For this reason, in accordance with your judicial practice, we also believe that an opinion, which attacks common values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as in the Fundamental Law of Hungary, shall not be defended. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, the exercise of the freedom of expression, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, shall not offend the rights and the mental health of the victims of a dictatorship. We consider the fact that the General Court of the European Union in its judgement (case T-232/10) of 20 September 2011 refused the application for registration of a figurative mark representing the Soviet coat of arms as a Community trademark.

In our opinion, the qualification of the offence in question only as a misdemeanour has had only a limited deterrent effect so far (with reference to the Vajnai v. Hungary cases: Appl. 33629/06 and 44438/08). On a social scale, we should consider that your relevant judgement might induce the spreading rather than the retreat of this so far moderately sanctioned behaviour.

Nevertheless, you should take into consideration that – at least in countries that suffered from Soviet oppression – wearing the five-pointed red star cannot be identified with the symbol of the international workers’ movement; on the contrary, it clearly indicates the embracement of the propagated ideology of the Communist dictatorship.

The severity of the offence can only be rightfully judged if the judge takes into account that according to experts the number of victims of Communism amounts for half a million people in Hungary. Thus we can state that a substantial part of the Hungarian society was directly afflicted by the dictatorship.

The above-mentioned facts explain why several countries besides Hungary also penalise the use of symbols of dictatorships; for example, in Lithuania the Soviet symbols are named among the symbols of dictatorship.

Moreover, we should state that your judgement suggests that a country cannot decide freely which symbols to accept or refuse even if the decision is made in accordance with the fundamental values enshrined in the Charter of Human Rights.

Furthermore, we resent that after the delivery of the above-mentioned judgement, Hungary’s request for redress was not respected as Hungary’s request for referral of the case to the Grand Chamber was rejected without justification by the five-member panel of the Grand Chamber.

On the basis of and taking into account the above stated points and being aware of the fact that Hungary ratified the European Convention on Human Rights on grounds of identification with the European values, recognized the competence and judicial authority of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as while the Fundamental Law of Hungary ensures the harmony between international law and Hungarian law, the organisations united in CÖF and CET acknowledge the commitment of the state of Hungary under international treaties to pay the penalty and costs and expenses imposed by the judgement. 

At the same time, the non-governmental organisations completely agree with the objection of the Hungarian society, National Assembly and government. Therefore, in order to make the Honourable Court realize and refuse the inhumanity of Communism and understand that the practice experienced in the Fratanoló v. Hungary case cannot be continued, we have decided to give weight to our disagreement with the judgement by taking over the imposed compensation and expenses. We started to raise money as a result of which we will transfer the necessary amount to the Honourable Court in September. Our intention with this is – with full respect for the law − to protest against all forms of totalitarian aspiration and symbols as well as against the toleration or encouragement of their use.

In hope of your understanding, we remain,

Yours sincerely,

       Dr. László Csizmadia                       Dr. András Kelemen

                President                                    spokesperson
                 CÖF, CET                             (international relations)

         Imre Palkovics                                  András Bencsik
             President                                             President
    National Confederation             Peace March Association

        of Workers Council


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