Addressing Discriminatory Legislation in Hungary

 Here is a brief report of Tuesday’s demonstration in front of parliament in Budapest and the effect of our campaign and petition. By Sivaram Swami

At 2 pm, with the sun shining, and a pleasant 10 degrees, a 1000 strong mix of
devotees, sympathizers and cows converged outside parliament where we held
kirtana for an hour followed by a medley of talks from our communication
representative, Eco-valley director, the agricultural head of a university, a
famous psychologist, Krsna Valley’s children and myself. In addition to our own
cows were 12 devotees dressed out as cows getting signatures for the petition.

The mood was humorous and friendly, but our message was clear: the government
had insulted the Krsna consciousness movement and Hindus worldwide by
unjustifiably suspending the Hungarian Krsnas’ church status as of January 1st.
A symptom of that bad judgement was the government’s failure to recognize that
Krsna Valley’s agricultural lands would no longer legally be ISKCON’s in the
new year.

With last week’s campaign, petition and a demonstration imminent, the Ministry
for Human Rights submitted an amendment to the land law that would allow us to
keep the land even after January 1st. That amendment has yet to be voted on
Monday the 19th. When–and if–it is voted into law, our temporary goal has
been achieved.

I have never seen so much media as at yesterday’s demonstration. I can honestly
say every paper, radio and TV in Budapest–including AP–were present. 

Our message was: Yes after much pressure the government finally addressed this
looming land crisis. But it’s a stop gap measure to a problem they caused:
taking away our legal status willy-nilly. The real solution and the end of the
campaign will be when we get our church status back. Until then our campaign
and demonstrations will continue.

After the talks we distributed prasada and had another hour of kirtana. The
media is awash with articles, interviews and videos. Although the government is
saying that their amendment to the land law had addressed our problem, everyone
is aware that the real problem remains; it is the discriminatory church law.

We will continue to campaign against that new church law. The core theme of our
campaign will be that since Hungary is eagerly wooing India and Indian
businesses to invest in the country, Indian investor confidence will fail if
the government persecutes India’s religion.

I and the members of the Hungarian yatra would like to thank you for your help
in signing the petition. Special thanks go to those Vaisnavas who took
delegations to Hungarian embassies in London, Delhi and Washington. I wish I
could say it is over. It’s not. If the land law amendment is passed Monday that
will have been a battle won. The war is still in the balance. I shall keep you
abreast of the next phase of our campaign and may again request your
assistance. Thank you, and my apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Your servant
Sivarama Swami

PS: Since we will hand in the petition on the 19th, we continue to collect
signatures till then.

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