Friday, May 24, 2024

Anti-fascists rally to protest annual far-right event in Hungary as Italian activist remains jailed

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Hundreds of anti-fascist activists gathered in the Hungarian capital to protest an annual commemoration ceremony held by far-right groups.

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Anti-fascist activists gathered in the Hungarian capital on Saturday to protest an annual commemoration held by far-right groups, as well as diplomatic tensions between Budapest and Rome over the detention of an Italian national in a Hungarian prison. It highlighted the tension.

Hundreds of activists marched through central Budapest with a large police presence, calling for “freedom for all anti-fascists” and saying they were trying to stop the far-right from holding a “day of honor”. Nazi and allied Hungarian soldiers escape from Budapest during its siege by the Red Army in 1945.

The demonstration came as an Italian anti-fascist activist is being held in a Hungarian prison on suspicion of involvement in an assault on suspected Day of Honor participants in Budapest last year.

Images of activist Ilaria Salisu chained and shackled at a court hearing in Budapest prompted an official protest by the Italian government. Prosecutors are seeking 11 years in prison for the woman.

Luka Kurczynski, 35, who took part in Saturday’s anti-fascist march, said he came from Berlin with friends “to protest the neo-fascist groups that hold events here every year.”

He said he was concerned that Sarris’ prosecution would amount to a “political trial.”

“We see that the Nazis will rally on different occasions and in different cities across Europe,” he said. “There are people who say no to this and look at this closely and say, ‘No more.’

Another group of activists gathered in Milan on Saturday to call attention to Saris’ case. The Hungarian government denied that Salisz was being held in inappropriate conditions.

The Italian government called on Hungary to comply with European and international law, which calls for the need to respect the dignity of prisoners “including in the manner in which defendants are brought to court and in guaranteeing a fair trial.”

Last week, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spoke with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban about Salisu’s detention. The incident is a sensitive issue for the far-right-led Meloni government, which has built a friendly relationship with the nationalist Orbán.

Salisu’s father met with Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Justice Minister Carlo Nordio on Monday to persuade them to intervene on his daughter’s behalf, but left disappointed.

In a joint statement on Monday, Nordio said his father suggested that a Hungarian lawyer file a lawsuit in court to change the conditions of Salisu’s confinement, while Tajani told the Hungarian lawyer on Salisz’s behalf. He said he had personally intervened with the government twice.

Italy’s opposition leader Elie Schlein, leader of the Democratic Party, said on Monday that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right government only moved for Saris after seeing “chains and shackles.”

“I can’t help but think that Meloni is embarrassed,” Schlein said in front of Viktor Orbán, the leader of Hungary, a European ally.


Associated Press writer Colleen Barry contributed from Milan, Italy.

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