Not only did Hungary's Viktor Orban declare his desire to abandon liberal democracy, his government is taking increasingly harsher measures against civil society in the country - specifically, the Hungarian NGOs that are implementing the Norway Grants and disbursing funds in the country.
Two independent non-governmental organizations working in the field of environmental protection and human rights, Ökotárs and DemNet - operators of the Norway Grants in Hungary - were raided once more a few days ago. The organizations were searched without being informed of the fact - and if that wasn't enough, officers also barged into the homes of their employees without warning, searching them and seizing personal computers. Civil society in Hungary was shocked, especially in the wake of the open comments made by Prime Minister Orban about how he will be following the example set by the Russian Federation (the raids on private homes mentioned in the news article have already been confirmed by colleagues from Hungary).
As the operator of the EEA Grants NGO program in Lithuania, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, together with the operators of the NGO programs of other EU states, has initiated an appeal to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, and is collecting signatures from NGOs and active citizens in their home countries.
Why are we doing this? It is because we believe that baseless punitive actions against independent non-governmental organizations, either working in the field of human rights or supporting human rights work, violate the fundamental values of democracy. The persecution of civil society violates the core values and principal legal provisions of the European Union.
We call upon all sympathetic organizations to sign the appeal in support of civil society in Hungary - and, at the same time, in support of the civil liberties of each and every one of us.
Signatures will be collected until September 19 at this website, where you will also have the opportunity to read the text of the letter. 145 civil organizations have already expressed their support.