“We have shut down the Ministry of Human Resources because they do a shitty job. It’s no particular event that has triggered this event but the last two years of politics…We therefore decided to create our own Ministry right here.” said Karoly Fuzessi.
Friday May 31 2013 20 activists had by 10.30am occupied the lobby of the Ministry of Human Resources in a hope to bring attention to the current state of affairs in Hungary and in the field of education in particular, says representatives of HAHA, the students’ network for democracy.
This particular date was chosen not because of any particular recent triggering event, but the fact that the Hungarian government keep on passing arbitrary laws and remake public institutions at an alarming rate without any proper public consultations.
By 12.30am the occupiers took the media by surprise by coming out of the building, waving a hand-written agreement signed by the representatives of the Ministry of Human Resources.
“We decided to come out voluntarily. The event was planned like a flashmob to raise awareness and it works.” said Robert Folkel, one of the activists.
Szalay utca, adjacent to the main parliamentary palace, was by that time full of members of the Hungarian press flocking around the entrance trying to get a few good shots of the HAHA activists and Laszlo Mendrei, the head of PDSZ, the government critical teacher’s union. In Budapest there are currently two teacher’s unions, one in strong loyalty for the government and the other against, reflecting the growing polarisations within civil society.
Robert Folkel, member of HAHA, considered the action successful, having secured a consultative meeting with the Ministry for next week. Three members of the students network for democracy are invited.
All of the activists were however not completely satisfied with the outcome. György Bartók, a member of the activist group The Constitution is not a Toy was skeptical. “They always offer something small and fill out some forms that means nothing. It’s in their interest to end this kind of actions as quickly as possible. They agreed this time again just to put out the fire.”
“Activists scene keep on eye on the parliament’s calendar. Everyday they come up with something that goes against common sense and basic rights. We have to act quickly.” György continued.
“What is happening is outrageous, but only for those with open eyes, for the watchful. Most people here are either ignorant, uneducated, to tired to ask questions, or they are simply deceived by the government controlled mass media. They don’t know who we, the activist groups are, because of the pro-government biased mass media.”
The activists let the media know that this is not the end.
“We are organizing a protest that will take place on Sunday with the slogan: “We won’t take it anymore”.
Most of the smaller actions, like the one today are however mostly planned within a very small core of the network, due to fear of infiltration and leakage.
”The action today was planned the last three days. There was also a pre-meeting today at 9am.” says Robert. ”When we occupied the headquarters of Fidesz, the method was the same. We secure everything until the beginning of the action. We have to plan everything in secret. ” he continued.
The next Hungarian election will take place in 2014. The government critics realise what a benchmark it would set if Fidesz wins again. They are keenly aware of time ticking.
Although the situation looks dire, György Bartók considers it an important symbolic action. ”Hope is the last thing to die.” he added.
Text and photography: Miranda Myrberg