Heroes' Square Protest Coming Tomorrow in Wake of Clemency Scandal

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As the recent presidential clemency scandal rumbles on, Heroes' Square in Budapest is set to serve as the stage for a large-scale protest spearheaded by Hungarian celebrities on Friday. The organizers say that they want to raise their voices as civilians to protect victims, transparency, human decency, and honest social dialogue.

The scandal erupted over Hungarian President Katalin Novák's decision to pardon a man convicted as an accomplice in a child sexual abuse case at a children's home in the countryside town of Bicske. The man, Endre K., was jailed for persuading children to withdraw their testimony of sexual abuse against the director of the orphanage, according to the BBC. The pardon was one of 25 issued in April 2023 ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, but Endre K.'s name only came to light early this month.

As public pressure increased, Novák decided to resign last Saturday. Judit Varga, who countersigned the pardon as the then Minister of Justice, followed suit soon after, resigning her seat in parliament and announcing she would retire from public life. She had been due to lead the Fidesz campaign in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

According to a report by 24.hu, among the organizers of the demonstration are online content producers who say that the events of the past few days have prompted them to "come together to get out of the online space."

The list of organizers is as follows:
Judit Bányai
Attila Baukó Azahriah
Eszter Fancsikai
Márton Gulyás
Szilvia Gyurkó
Ádám Nagy
Edina Pottyondy
Zsolt Osváth 
Márton Szabó
Orsi Tapasztó

The report adds that organizers believe the scandal goes beyond the personal responsibility of Novák and Varga because "the most vulnerable, tragically abandoned children have been abandoned by the state when it entrusted them to an abusive head of an institution. Now, after the abandonment, the victims have been betrayed. We wish to express our anger, our pain, and our sympathy."

The demonstration will be held on Friday from 6 p.m. on Heroes' Square. At the time of writing, more than 8,000 people indicated that they would attend, and some 23,000 people were interested, according to the official Facebook page for the protest.

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