Hungarian Police Disperse Protest of Holocaust Whitewash
Police in Hungary forcibly removed protesters on Tuesday from the site of a planned World War II monument, which critics say glosses over the country's role in the Holocaust.
Organizers of the sit-down protest said police physically lifted over 20 people, including a number of Holocaust survivors, from the planned site of the monument in the capital, Budapest.
The government says the structure - which will depict Hungary as an angel being attacked by a German Nazi eagle - will commemorate all the victims of the country's 1944 occupation by Nazi Germany.
But several Jewish organizations and historians say the memorial absolves Hungarians of their active role in carrying out the deportations of Jews to Nazi death camps.
Miklos Horthy, Hungary's anti-Semitic leader at the time of the Holocaust, was an ally of Hitler and actively complicit in the mass deportations of Jews to Nazi death camps in 1944, which resulted in the murder of around 450,000 Hungarian Jews.
Building work on the monument started on April 8, two days after Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a second consecutive landslide election, while the openly neo-Nazi Jobbik party came in third, strengthening its hold with 20.5% of the vote.
Hungary's largest Jewish organisation, Mazsihisz, has criticized Orban for breaking a pledge to discuss the monument, which is to be completed by May 31, with them.
Protest organizer Gabor Popper told AFP the demonstrators knew they could not stop the monument being built.
"If the government really wants to build it, and it seems they do, then the most we can do is somehow delay its construction," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, former prime minister and opposition politician Gordon Bajnai sent an open letter to Hungarian president Janos Ader asking him to "do everything he can" to stop the monument being built.
Construction of the monument was postponed from March 19, the 70th anniversary of the mass deportations of Jews, after Mazsihisz pulled out of the anniversary commemorations over the monument.