I haven’t talked about my courage list for a while (and an update is brewing) but one of the points on there was to talk about my political opinions just as openly as about everything else. So I’ll grab the occasion to talk about a lady who doesn’t shy away from doing something against injustice: Stefania Kapronczay, managing director of The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU).
HCLU operates as a watchdog, ensuring that international and local laws are respected by any and all players, including parties, government and the courts themselves. They are often in the news against preference treatments of churches , or roma discrimination and more. Their members appear on TV or in newspapers to explain their positions. Their work is valued globally and international news outlets also quote them often.
That’s how I encountered Stefania as well, in the media – she is clearly knowledgeable and not afraid of confrontations. I admire her calm, logical way that she keeps during any debate I have seen her in.
Recently the biggest topic they are asked about is the new NGO Act that has just been signed. The goal of the legislation is to make it extra special clear what NGOs receive financial support from abroad. NGOs with the exception of sport and religious associations and foundations of political parties. (Strange, isn’t it?) If an NGO does indeed receive support from abroad, they will have to register separately, submit additional reports and “the ‘organization receiving foreign funding’ title should also be marked on the organization’s website and be indicated on its publications” (see more details here).
The law does not make much sense. NGOs are already required to make their budgets, including expenses and donation sources public. But part of the government’s goal is to mark organisations partially funded from other countries as a threat. I don’t necessarily argue with that but my opinion is that they are not a threat to the country but to those in the government who don’t want watchdogs like HCLU over their heads.
When you have something (or many things to hide), when you can’t show actual results for your years of government, you need someone to blame. You need an external scope goat to occupy the minds of people, to divert their attention from what’s important. Shady governments and politicians have applied this from the beginning of time.
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” (Adolf Hitler)
For the current Hungarian government the scapegoat is abroad, and specifically the EU. A recent government campaign featured the slogan “We need to stop Brussels”. Their biggest dream, it seems, is that Hungarian people view Brussels now as they used to Moscow during the Cold War.
Can you guess which countries have similar laws about NGO funding? Russia and Israel, who went further step by step to allow less opportunities to those who would and could criticise their government. They are all down the path of confrontational nationalism, something that scares me so much that I don’t even know how to have a dialogue with those who approve. (It’s not something I’m proud of.)
Stefania on the other hand lives for dialogues. She is able to stand there, talk with all kinds of people about what she believes in, and listen to those who disagree. I can’t help but admire the qualities in her I desire but don’t (yet) possess. Just the fact that she does, inspires me to speak up more for what I believe in, even if it’s not necessarily the most popular opinion. She and her organisation truly have a positive effect on the world we spend our days in.
If you’d like to support their persistent fight for justice for those who don’t receive it, please consider a donation. If you can’t afford money, spread awareness of the situation, reblogging, tweeting, facebooking or just shouting out loud, whatever takes your fancy. You can find out more on the links included. Thank you.
Do you ever talk/write about politics? Why or why not?