2011.11.26. Categorized: Uncategorized
We are grateful to our Indian Buddhist Brothers and Sisters who demonstrate today in the town of Parbhani for freedom of buddhist congregations in Hungary.
26 november 2011
2011.11.26. Categorized: Uncategorized
26 november 2011
2011.09.09. Categorized: Uncategorized
It’s almost been two years to my visit (23rd Sept to 20th Oct 2009) to the Sajókaza (Hungary) and since then I’ve been in constant contact with my friends - Anikó Szegedi, Derdák Tibor and Katlin Bodori - from Hungary. This article is in continuation to my previous articles - Babasaheb Ambedkar and ‘the Dalits of Europe’, Reclaiming Human Dignity: The Protest and Gypsy Stereotypes, Celebrating Dhamma Chakka Parivartan Diwas in Hungary, and Ambedkar in Hungary - which I wrote while staying at Sajókaza.
Few Updates from the Jai Bhim Network, Hungary
Since 2009, Jai Bhim Network has expanded its roots deep into the Hungarian society via opening new schools at Alsózsolca (about 60 students), Mágocs and Sáta (elementary school about 20km from Sajókaza) and Jai Bhim Network has purchased a new house (named White House) to teach Roma students and carry out various social functions. With the help of Bharat Wankhede (the guy who accompanied me on the visit) and The Corporate Body of the Buddha Education Foundation, Taipei (Taiwan) Jai Bhim Network has published a Buddhist Puja book – Telihold. Kubu (the guy I mentioned few times in my earlier articles) will graduate in Physics in few years. Benu (the guy whose speech on Roma rights at Heroes Square (Budapest) was simply amazing.) has joined job at Budapest and he is continuing his activities with Jai Bhim Network from Budapest. Katlin Bodori left for completing her master’s degree. Many new teachers are hired and few completed their tenure successfully – enriching Roma students’ lives and their own lives with wonderful experiences.
To fulfil their Buddha-Dhamma and Ambedkarite quest, in Nov-Dec 2010, Derdák Tibor and János Orsós visited India again (third time) and stayed at Bodh Gaya for few days and then took part in the Dalits demonstration for equal rights at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on 5th Dec 2010. Derdák Tibor and János Orsós come to Buddhist places in India as Muslims go to Mecca and Hindus go to Varanasi.
Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Community
Few days ago while talking to Derdák Tibor (founder of Jai Bhim Network), I came to know about the recent church lawand while talking to Anikó Szegedi on Jan Lokpal Bill (I can bet that she understands this much better than many Indians!), she told me the complications of this church law and she asked me, “Do you think only Indian can act thoughtlessly?” Hungarian parliament can also do such blunders!
On the name of curbing the misuse of funds and to deal with tax frauds, Hungarian government passed (with 254 to 43 votes) a new law on July 12, 2011 – Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Community - famously known as church law in Hungary. According to this new law, religious organisations should have more than 1000 peoples’ base and religious organisation should be more than 20 years old to be able for getting funds from the state and other government agencies. According to the new law, in Hungary only 14 religious organisations out of 358 fulfil the criteria and excluded groups will automatically lose their registration status on January 1, 2012, thereby losing financial support, state subsidies and tax benefits from the government to run their social and charitable work. Lord Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”But so called government seems to disagree with Lord Jesus. I don’t understand why government is interfering with the freedom of religious practice? Church law seems not to curb the tax frauds but to curb religious freedom of citizens.
It’s really a shameful on the part of government to bring such a (unlawful) law and behave like rule in a democratic nation - Hungary. In Hungary, many Romas (Gypsies) depend upon the charitable work done by various churches and Jai Bhim Network. Losing their registration and lack of funds will further affect the poor Romas.
It’s to be noted that Hungary comes in European Union and Article -10 of Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on Freedom of thought, conscience and religion and Article- 9 of European Convention on Human Rightsstates:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
It’s really strange to note that a country recently freed from the claws of communism passed such a discriminating law, which will hinder the religious freedom as stated in Hungarian constitution. It’s simply unethical to bar someone from practicing religion or belief of one’s choice. Church law to me is similar to the ‘Gujarat Religious Freedom Act’ and notably known as ‘Anti-Conversion Law’ introduced by the Gujarat (India) state government (infamous for persecuting religious minorities) in 2008.
I think governments should not interfere on which religion one should follow and should work on planning and executing the projects that will get adequate drinking water, decent housings, and good education to the millions who are still deprived of these basic necessities. Also, rather than limiting religious freedom, governments should work on making people aware of their basic human rights, only then we can be proud of our country.
Future of Jai Bhim Network, Hungary
Jai Bhim Network is working among Romas (Gypsies) since 2007 for the social integration of Romas, running more than six schools (at Sajókaza, Ózd, Hegymeg, Alsózsolca, Sáta, and Mágocs etc) on the name of Dr Ambedkar High School and teaching illiterate Romas, providing education to the Romas of all age groups and organising various Buddhist events such as meditation camps and celebrating Dr Ambedkar’s Birthday and Dhamma Chakka Parivartan in Hungary. With the help of Jai Bhim Network Romas are able to stand against the daily whips of village life and Network has given millions hopes to these unprivileged Romas through education and social integration program, all such measures were ignored by governments and many others. Jai Bhim Network is working and drawing inspiration from many other Buddhist religious bodies from different countries and especially Dalits of India.
Now, after this new law, Jai Bhim Network has been robbed of its religious status and governments will stop funding for Jai Bhim Network’s activities such as running schools. Proposed law endangers the survival Hungary’s largest educational institution for Roma children - Dr. Ambedkar School. We can’t afford to turn our backs on such a successful initiative - to educated and give ‘Dalits of Europe’ a sense of pride. I would like if friends can write to human rights commissions and support the Jai Bhim Network in what-so-ever-manner to carry on its work of spreading Buddhism and Ambedkarite thoughts through its schools. Don’t deprive Romas from a chance of learning and starting a new life. Future of Jai Bhim Network will be uncertain without your support and participation, so please come forward and support. Please write to Derdák Tibor at email@example.com
Also sign an online petition against church law at http://www.vallasszabadsag.atw.hu/ and spread the link with your friends. (On the petition Név means Name and Foglalkozás means Occupation)
P.S.: Credit to shape this article goes to Anikó Szegedi, who shared much information with me on the church law, and Derdák Tibor.
P.P.S.: In case you liked the above piece please click on Like button and share it with your friends!
2011.07.15. Categorized: Uncategorized
How Dalit Christians can combine Ambedkarism and Christian theology?
Q: What role does Ambedkar play in the writings of Dalit Christian theologians?
2011.06.26. Categorized: Uncategorized
Draft Religion Law Would Constitute the Most Oppressive Religion Law in the OSCE Region
On 10 June 2011, four Christian Democrat (KDNP) Members of the Parliament submitted a proposed draft law (the “Draft Law”) regarding “The Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Status of Churches, Religions and Religious Communities”. On 14 June 2011, only four days after the Bill was introduced in Parliament, the Committee on Human Rights, Minority, Civil and Religious Affairs approved the proposed religious legislation and voted to send the draft law to the Parliamentary Assembly for discussion and passage. The Draft Law is now scheduled for a vote before the Parliament on 23 June 2011.
Passage of this legislation would represent a serious setback for religious freedom in Hungary. The legislation contravenes the standards of OSCE, European Union, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights and United Nations because it clearly discriminates against minority religious groups.
The Draft Law would create the most oppressive religion law and the most burdensome registration system in the entire OSCE region. The most egregious provisions in the law include the following:
First, the Draft Law’s tiered system of state recognition is completely inconsistent with fundamental human rights as it contravenes the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The draft law includes provisions that retroactively strip numerous targeted minority faiths of their religious entity status even though they have been registered as religious entities for many years. These retroactive provisions violate the Rule of Law and the right to religious freedom. The Draft Law would “de-register” targeted minority faiths that have been registered as religions in Hungary since the adoption of the 1990 Religion Law, while allowing favored religious organizations to maintain their registered religious status and enjoy all the rights and privileges that flow to religious organizations under the Bill.
Over a hundred religious organizations currently registered as such will be retroactively stripped of their status as religious communities and “de-registered” as religious organizations if these provisions become law.
Second, religious organizations that have been “de-registered” may not use the name “Church” and will also lose their status as a religious organization if they are not “re-registered” through burdensome Court proceedings. In addition, “re-registration” can only occur if a minority religious community meets onerous duration and population requirements showing that it has been organized in Hungary for at least 20 years and has at least 1,000 members. These requirements represent a transparent attempt to suppress minority religious freedom in complete contravention of European Human Rights Court decisions and UN and OSCE’s standards.
Third, the Bill includes a narrow definition of “religious activities” based on Judeo-Christian concepts that does not comport with the broad definition of religion embraced by the UN, OSCE and European Human Rights Court that is mandated under international human rights norms that Hungary is obliged to follow.
Moreover, the government’s recognition of certain religions through “lists” annexed to the Bill due to: 1) their historical presence in Hungary; 2) their serving a substantial “public benefit” in the opinion of the government; or 3) their connection to a “worldwide religious movement” is arbitrary and inherently discriminatory. No criteria are provided regarding why a religion was included in categories 2 and 3. Many religious minorities that serve the public benefit or are connected to worldwide religions were arbitrarily kept off the lists.
This exclusionary approach is inconsistent with the Human Rights Court’s application of a fundamental human rights policy of the European Community to religious freedom issues – “the need to secure true religious pluralism, an inherent feature of the notion of a democratic society”. It would frustrate this policy of “true religious pluralism” and result in arbitrariness and unfair discrimination to interpret religion narrowly to exclude new and minority faiths.
The definitional provisions in the Draft Law do not comport with these human rights standards and would result in the denial of religious registration to numerous religious groups that should qualify under the broad definition mandated by human rights law.
Fourth, the controversial provisions in the law retroactively stripping religious organizations of their rights, “de-registering” Churches so that they no longer enjoy the rights and privileges of religious organizations, requiring religious organizations to meet onerous membership and duration requirements uniformly found to contravene fundamental human rights by the Human Rights Court, the OSCE and the UN, and narrowly defining the term “religious activities” to exclude minority faiths cannot withstand human rights or legal scrutiny. Such provisions, if enacted into law, will inevitably be overturned in the Courts after extended, needless and costly litigation for the State.
The Draft Law contravenes European Union, Council of Europe, OSCE and UN standards. It has been rushed through the Committee without time for an adequate review and debate on its provisions. Passage of this legislation will represent a serious setback for religious freedom in Hungary.
2011.06.17. Categorized: Uncategorized
The bill Nr. 3503 “On religious freedom and the legal status of churches and religious communities” before the Hungarian Parliament since 10th of June 2011, deprives JaiBhim Network of its religious status.
Members of the Network seek out isolated villages in order to pray, teach and effect lifestyle changes. The members‘teaching is based on the 2500 year old precept of the Enlightened One: „I take responsibility for my own fate.“ Roma children who have grown up in deepest poverty go to university, illiterates learn to read and write, drunk parents become sober with the help of members of the Network. Buddhist Roma take up the fight against everyday scourges of village life such as electricity theft and truancy, and collect the accumulated rubbish around their homes and communities. The JaiBhim Network cooperates with the Maltese Charity Service, the Ecumenical Education Centre, the Kecskemét Piarists, the Quakers, the I Love Hungary Club, Kaldor College, the Calvinist Alpha College in the Netherlands, the European Buddhist Union as well as the largest group of socially disadvantaged people in the world, the Indian Dalits. Those familiar with Network member’s work understand its necessity.
Today, Hungary’s villages are rife with severe ethnic conflict. Aggressive hate groups and neo-nazi organisations terrorize whole villages such as Gyöngyöspata, Olaszliszka and Tatárszentgyörgy. Luckily, the JaiBhim Network has been able to demonstrate a faithful solution to this nihilist hopelessness through its education and social programme - Dr. Ambedkar School - in several communities including Sajókaza, Alsózsolca, Hegymeg, Ózd, Mágocs, Baksa, Hidas and Alsószentmárton. Our society cannot afford to turn its back on such successful initiatives!
The proposed law endangers the survival of what is probably Hungary’s largest educational institution for Roma children and youngsters - Dr. Ambedkar School - by depriving it of half its budget. Between 2007 and 2011 the Hungarian state provided the same support for this school as it did for other religious schools around the country. Till now, the state has devoted the same resources to the education of a student from a Roma slum as to the students of well known Christian schools in Debrecen, Pannonhalma and Budapest. Will Roma students now be worth just half as much as the children of the elite?
In section 8.§ (2) the proposed law states: The state will cooperate with religious institutions to achieve social goals.
Zoltán Balog, Secretary of State for Social Inclusion recently said: There are many fine examples of integration initiatives in this country, Sajókaza is one. The aim of his visit was to get an idea of how the institution works in its everyday life. He mentioned the outstanding practice of educating children and their parents together. He highlighted the fact that in the world of the Hungarian Romas it is not unusual to meet 35-year-old grandmothers ; Dr. Ambedkar School gives them a second chance. After raising their children they are encouraged to study and acquire a trade. It is doubly motivating when they are given the opportunity to study alongside their children, as mentioned by Mr. Balog. He added that it was important that several generations were able to work together to achieve these goals, and that women were given, and assumed, important roles.
We call on the esteemed Majority Leader to help Roma youngsters following in the footsteps of the Indian Dalits to practice their religious rights.
H-3720 Sajókaza, Rákóczi F. u. 29.
H-3720 Sajókaza, Sólyom telep 7-9.
(+36) 48-349-209, (+36) 48-788-275
International Bank Account Number:
IBAN HU52 1200 1008 0015 6776 0010 0009
SWIFT Code: UBRTHUHB (Raiffeisen Bank)