Geert Lovink on Tue, 21 Dec 2010 13:15:50 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> concerning

From: MÃzsa PÃter [...]
Date: 2010/12/21
Subject: Freedom of speech in Hungary as of 21st December 2010

Dear Mr. Hu Jintao,

We are writing this letter to you not to address you in your role as
the Chinese Premiere, but to address you as if one private individual
were speaking to another.

We would like to purchase your website, which can be found at the  
following address .

Please allow us to explain this request.

You have no doubt heard that the government of the United States has  
changed its stance on the freedom of the web since the well-known  
information network,, helped people discover new  
facts and call for more accountability.

The US governmentâs previous stance, which was enumerated by  
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a landmark speech about internet  
freedom on 21 January 2010, sounded something like this: âEven in  
authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people  
discover new facts and making governments more accountable.â

âGiven what we now know, that Clinton speech reads like a satirical  

However, you may be unaware what has been happening to the freedom of  
speech in the European Union over the past year or so.

The official stances of both the Peopleâs Republic of China and the  
EU are very similar:

- âArticle 35. Citizens of the Peopleâs Republic of China enjoy  
freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of  
procession and of demonstration.â Constitution

- âArticle 11. 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.  
This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and
impart information and ideas without interference by public authority  
and regardless of frontiers. 2. The freedom and pluralism of the media  
shall be respected.â Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European  

However, the void between this declaration and the reality of the  
situation is huge.

As we are requesting your assistance, please allow us to direct your  
attention to the contraventions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights  
of the European Union, as oppossed to the normal discussions of  
contraventions of human rights in China.

 From the beginnning of next year Hungary will hold the EUâs rotating  
presidency .

So far, the next holder of the EUâs rotating presidency has:

- implicitly expressed support for the pro-Nazi Hungarian government  
of 1944 through the Declaration of National Cooperation, signed on  
29th May 2010 (cf. in Hungarian)

- levied a 98% tax on certain incomes as of 16th November 2010,

backdatable six years. This has in effect suspended the rule of law in  
the country

- radically limited the scope of constitutional supervision in the  
country, effectively suspending what was a constitutional democratic

- following this, on 13th December 2010, by referring to common  
national goals, the government passed a law that legalized the
ânationalizationâ or state appropriation of the private pension  
savings of one third of the Hungarian population

On this day, 21st December 2010 the incumbent president of the EU has  
approved a new media law which:

- provides the National Media and Communications Authorityâs Media  
Council with the authority to impose fines on private newspapers,
websites, broadcasters, and other content providers that have violated  
press rules on âbalancedâ coverage as well as immoral reporting  
(such as content involving sex, violence, and alcohol). Fines could be  
as much as $950,000 for radio and television stations, $120,000 for  
daily newspapers and âinternet media news productsâ (e.g. blogs).  
Internet media news products could also be suspended or shut down.

- âOf particular concern is the wording of the supposed âviolations  
which is very is broad, creating an environment conducive to  
significant misuseâ 

The EU and its Member States are shamefully tolerating this violation  
of the rule of law and freedom of expression as perpetrated by the  
holder of the 2011 rotating presidency.

This is why we are writing to you. The address is the  
site of a popular blog service in Hungary.  We would like to reproduce  
the contents of this service at the address , which  
is currently in your possession. Our wish is to make it possible to  
publish information at the aforementioned address anonymously, so that  
Hungarians may defy a repressive media law and be free to exercise  
their right to the freedom of expression without fear of reprisal.

If, however, you wish to maintain your ownership rights for 
  we would be more than grateful if you could provide us with a  
website that would allow us to publish freely and anonymously.

In drawing our letter to a close we would like to wish you and all the  
citizens of the Chinese State a Happy New Year by citing the words of  


âTo study and to practice, it is is a joy, isnât it? When friends  
come from afar, it is a pleasure, isnât it? If one remains unknown  
and isnât hurt, isnât one an honorable man?â


Philip Barker
Peter Mazsa

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