Central & Eastern Europe Newsletter June 2020

The situation for Human Rights worldwide is not improving, but campaigning pays a vital role in protecting and improving human rights. Please continue the great and vital work you are doing ! There are a number of very urgent Actions in this Newsletter. Please take action and distribute as far and wide as you can.

Also check our Facebook page : AmnestyUKEurope and our twitter page @AIUKEuropeTeam for always the latest news and actions.

First some good news ! Thank you for all who wrote letters in support of refugees held on boats on the sea at the coast of Malta. All the refugees have now been accommodated in reception centres.


While rightly the eyes of the world are set on Human Rights violations in the US, at home in Europe, the Polish government continues its relentless crackdown on critical voices of dissent.

Please take action for two Polish activists who are threatened with up to 10 years in jail for a poster campaign accusing the government of manipulating Covid 19 statistics.

Please read the Urgent Action for letter writing.

 The solidarity campaign for Elzbieta Podlesna is still on-going. This year she is going to speak on-line together with Vitalina Koval from Ukraine about the challenges of LGBT activism in Eastern Europe. Tune in on Wednesday 1.July at 7pm on www.prideinside.uk    

Launching 28th June (include URL which will be live on 19th June) www.prideinside.uk



Hungary is implementing legislation that makes gender recognition for Trans and Intersex people impossible, enshrining in law that only the gender assigned at birth can be recognized. This is exposing individuals to constant discrimination, harassment and attacks. Amnesty International’s Researcher, Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy said:

“This decision pushes Hungary back towards the dark ages and tramples the rights of transgender and intersex people. It will not only expose them to further discrimination but will also deepen an already intolerant and hostile environment faced by the LGBTI community.”


Please take Urgent Action !

Please sign and share the digital action. I am attaching a paper version as well. Please send letters before 24th June. In addition I am attaching a blog by Amnesty activist Eva Hibbs from the Southwark group.

Further on Hungary Amnesty International is presenting a new report about discrimination and job insecurity in the workplace due to the COVID-19 crisis.

See the article published by our researcher Krisztina Tamas Saroy

Please also see the full report :-

No working around it: Gender-based discrimination in Hungarian workplaces

Scapegoating and Victimization in times of Coronavirus    (by Ulrike Schmidt)

It is not the first time that Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban has scapegoated minorities for all the nations ills. Refugees and migrants have been relentlessly attacked by government propaganda, portraying them as terrorists, rapists and carriers of deadly disease.  In line with that policy a scapegoat had to be found for Coronavirus.

Two young women from Iran have been living and studying in Budapest for many years. Age 13 they were placed by their parents into a British boarding school in Hungary, and after passing all their Cambridge GCSE and A-level exams they progressed to the Semmelweiss University to study medicine: Nazanin studying dentistry and her sister Nastaran pharmacology. Nazanin would have sat her final exams this month. Nazanin has 2 more years to go.

On 6th March Nastaran and Nazanin received a phone call that one of their friends had tested positive for coronavirus and that they would have to self-isolate, which they did without delay.

The same night they were picked up and taken to a hospital to be tested. They tested negative but had to stay in quarantine in the hospital where they were placed with 3 other girls. One of those girls tested positive , therefore their quarantine was extended to another 14 days at home. Nastaran and Nazanin tested persistently negative (5 tests).  16 days after being discharged from hospital the girls were investigated by the police and another week later they received a letter informing them that they would be deported. The charge is that they had “endangered the health of Hungarians” despite the fact that they never contracted coronavirus, nor broke quarantine or lockdown rules, they always did as they were told by the authorities. The police report admits that there is no evidence that the girls broke quarantine rules. Nevertheless they are now awaiting deportation . This is a devastating blow for the girls and their parents who have invested all their life savings into the girls education.

I am investigating the possibility of the girls completing their studies in the UK.  Please contact me if you have contact to Medical Universities or advice whom I should contact. (I have the transcripts of all the girls exams and academic achievements)

Stop Press:-  The great news is, that last minute their deportation was cancelled and they both can now complete their studies in Hungary.

On further disturbing news on Hungary I want to include an article by the EUObserver about frightening hate marches by the Hungarian far right, terrorizing and intimidating Roma Communities.      Please read :          Anti  Roma hatred on the streets of Budapest

Good news – The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) declared that Hungary’s “foreign funding” legislation is in clear breach of EU law in imposing discriminatory and unjustified restrictions on the financing of civil organisations by persons established outside the country, contrary to free movement of capital. Moreover, the CJEU ruled that these restrictions violate the right to freedom of association, the rights to respect for private and family life and to the protection of personal data.


  • Fresh evidence of police abuse and torture of migrants and asylum-seekers

In a horrifying escalation of police human rights violations at the Croatian border with Bosnia, a group of migrants and asylum seekers was recently bound, brutally beaten and tortured by officers who mocked their injuries and smeared food on their bleeding heads to humiliate them, Amnesty International has revealed today.

 “They did not give us a chance to say anything at all when they caught us. They just started hitting us. While I was lying on the ground, they hit my head with the back of a gun and I started bleeding. I tried to protect my head from the blows, but they started kicking me and hitting my arms with metal sticks. I was passing in and out of consciousness the rest of the night.”

Tariq is now forced to use a wheelchair to move around and it will take months before he is able to move on his own again.

Please read the full report below.


Further reading from the Guardian :

EU ‘covered up’ Croatia’s failure to protect migrants from border brutality

Violence and brutality against refugees happens at other European borders too.

3 months ago Amnesty International reported the case of Fatma, a Syrian woman is missing & presumed dead after attempting to cross the Evros river at the Greek border. Fatma has a name: #NaderaAlmonla We still don’t know what happened to her. Please join the twitter Action

Newsletter compiled by Ulrike Schmidt