A new cartoon and new attacks on cartoonist Gábor Pápai
Cartooning for Peace condemns this new political attack against the cartoonist and his newspaper, the second in two months as Reporters Without Borders points out, and calls for an end to the pressure on the cartoonist.
After being threatened with legal proceedings in May 2020, Hungarian cartoonist Gábor Pápai and his newspaper are again being attacked by a representative of the Hungarian parliament.
Commenting on the cartoon on his Facebook page, Dr. Péter Hoppál, a Fidesz MP, threatened the newspaper Népszava of “disappearance” in a formulation referring to the daily Népszabadság, which was suddenly closed in 2016 following political pressure: “Népszabadság used to joke and disappeared, now here comes Népszava”. He added in his commentary that, having harmed Christianity, the cartoonist is now harming the Nation.Other articles in online media close to the government have condemned the cartoon.
The cartoon, “One hundred years of solitude (according to Marquez),” published on June 4, refers to the centenary of the Trianon Treaty, signed between Hungary and the First World War victors on June 4, 1920. The treaty dispossessed Hungary of two thirds of its surface area and the polulation living in those lands. The consequences of this treaty remain a trauma for part of the Hungarian population and fuel the revisionist and nationalist political ideology in the country, from the government of Miklós Horthy (1920-1945) to the present day.
The cartoon (in the gallery, below) “One hundred years of solitude (after Marquez)” shows 4 characters overhanging a hole surrounded by coloured shapes. The hole represents the territory of Hungary after the signing of the treaty while the coloured shapes represent the parts of the territory ceded to the victorious powers of the First World War. The character on the left says: “Don’t you want to come up?”, the one at the bottom of the hole says: “No, no, never!” (“No, no, never!” is a revisionist slogan from Horthy’s time).
Read the reply of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the threats against Gábor Pápai here (published on the platform for the protection and safety of journalists of the Council of Europe).
Following the publication of a cartoon in the opposition daily Népszava on 28 April, Hungarian cartoonist Gábor Pápai and his newspaper are facing legal action from the ruling Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) who consider the cartoon “blasphemous”.
Representatives of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) issued a statement condemning the publication of the cartoon of Gábor Pápai by the Népszava in its Tuesday 28 April edition. Deputy Imre Vejkey announced that his party intended to launch legal proceedings under the Fundamental Law and the Civil Code, targeting the newspaper Népszava. Tristan Azbej, State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians circulated a petition, while the cartoonist is also the target of insults and threats of legal proceedings by for example László Toroczkai, a member of the far-right party Mi Hazánk.
Entitled “Chronic”, Gábor Pápai’s caricature represents Cecília Müller (Chief Medical Officer at the NNK, National Centre for Public Health and member of the Government’s “Coronavirus Task Force”) at a press conference during which she faces Jesus crucified on his cross and pronounces dryly: “…His underlying condition caused dependence”. The sentence refers to previous statements by Cecília Müller who allegedly stated on several occasions that Covid-19 deceased were “predisposed” to die due to pre-existing pathologies. Cecília Müller has been at the centre of controversies since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, and she regularly speaks at press conferences to assess the evolution of the virus. She is accused by the opposition of having hidden information essential to limiting its spread.
The cartoonist contacted Cartooning for Peace and described the situation and the threats he has been facing since the publication of his cartoon. He also says that a radio station has called on its listeners to send in his address.
The press and media situation in Hungary have worsened since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán came to power. Hungary is ranked 89th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index 2020, down two places from 2019.
Cartooning for Peace strongly condemns this attack against freedom of expression and of the press as defended in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This lawsuit will only hinder the work of Hungarian journalists once again. Blasphemy convictions can under no circumstances become pretexts used by political parties to censor the press.
Cartooning for Peace is therefore calling for a dropout of any legal proceedings that would be launched against Gábor Pápai or the newspaper Népszava and will follow the case closely.
The European Federation of Journalists has also published an alert on the Council of Europe’s Platform to Enhance the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists: read here
Reporters without Borders published also a press release: read here
Download the press release: 2020-05-07 PR Gábor Pápai