Church Law and the Future of Jai Bhim Network in Hungary
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, Kalanyos Laszlo 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 law and 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 undemocratic 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 Rights states:
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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