Hungarian Activists to hold demonstrations this week
“This mistake has to be rectified by us, Hungarians!” wrote one. “Today, I am ashamed of being a Hungarian,” wrote another. “I apologize to all Armenians, and particularly to the family of Gurgen Margaryan,” said a third.
They echoed the sentiments of tens of thousands of Hungarians outraged by their government’s decision to extradite Margaryan’s murderer, Ramil Safarov, to his home country Azerbaijan, where he received a hero’s welcome, was pardoned, and promoted.
In 2004, Safarov murdered Margaryan, an Armenian lieutenant, in Hungary with an axe, while the latter was asleep. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Politicians, religious leaders, and activists in Hungary commented on the extradition, apologizing to Armenians and criticizing the extradition.
The president of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Card. Péter Erdő, issued a statement expressing “full solidarity with the Armenian Christians and with the Armenian people that has so much suffered in the past.”
“We ask the Almighty that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary He might lead and protect the whole Armenian people and bless them with the gift of justice and peace,” read the statement.
Various newspapers and blogs published articles denouncing the Hungarian government.
Demonstrations are planned for early this week in front of the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament of Hungary to express outrage at the decision to extradite Safarov.
Thousands of Hungarians joined Facebook groups apologizing for their government’s action. One such group, called “Sorry, Armenia,” had close to 8,000 “Likes” as of Sept. 2.
Another Facebook group, “Hungarians are sorry, Armenia,” had 2,000 “Likes.”
Wreaths were placed in memory of Margaryan at Deák square in Budapest (see photo).
Fifteen Hungarians lined up on a street each holding a letter of the phrase “Sorry, Armenia!” (see photo).
‘Unacceptable, amoral act’
Benedek Zsigmond, a Hungarian Armenologist, made moving statements in Yerevan, in fluent Armenian, apologizing for the “unacceptable, amoral act.” He added, “That which the Hungarian government has done flies in the face of all moral and panhuman values.”
“Many Hungarians are apologizing for the government’s action. They do it both in Hungarian and in English. Moreover, some people say, ‘I feel shame that I am Hungarian,’” Zsigmond told the Armenian Weekly in an interview.
Hungarians we interviewed not only expressed shame and outrage, but insisted they would continue petitioning, protesting, and demonstrating until their government did all it could to rectify the situation, and until those involved in the extradition were held accountable.
Ildiko Fülep, a Hungarian living in Vienna, told the Weekly, “As someone who knows Armenia’s culture and history, I’m deeply shocked by my government’s decision. I feel like my government put a knife in the back of Armenians, and it also cheated its own nation.”
‘Please, do not burn our flag’
Some Hungarians pleaded with Armenians to refrain from burning the Hungarian flag during demonstrations against the Hungarian government. “The Hungarian flag is not a symbol of the government, but the Hungarian people!” said one.
Another Hungarian blogger we interviewed noted, “Remember, that is also the flag of the tens of thousands of Hungarians who are against the actions of the government, and will demonstrate and protest against it.”
“Burn the photo of [Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán instead,” she added.
The Hungarian flag was burned during a demonstration in Yerevan on Sept. 1.