Statement by Elizabeth Sándor-Szalay Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities, concerning the derogatory media communications affecting the German community in Hungary
Elizabeth Sándor-Szalay Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights contacted the Secretary of State for Culture at the Ministry of Human Capacities and asked for a comprehensive investigation into the “Gumiszoba” program block of the Ship Logbook program launched by the Petofi Literary Museum. The Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities also decided to open a full investigation into the case, in which she also contacted the President of the National Media and Communications Authority.
As it is known, on 19 January, 2020, generalizations were made in program block called "Gumiszoba" of the Ship Logbook program run jointly by the Petofi Literary Agency and the Petofi Literary Museum, which seriously offended members of the German community. Members of the German minority community were deeply shaken by what had happened, especially as the disturbing conversation took place on the Memorial Day of the Deportation of Germans in Hungary, which has been an official Hungarian State Memorial Day since 2012, according to the decision of the National Assembly. The late document on the deportation of the German population in Hungary decided about the fate of members of a minority group on the principle of collective guilt, and now, 75 years later, German people were treated, condemned, and mocked in the same way by the participants of the Gumiszoba program.
In the show, and then in its second episode on January 23, the speakers schematically generalised and continuously portrayed the members of the German community either as cruel perpetrators or made them ridiculous for other reasons, mashing them up with the crimes of Nazi Germany. Their statements that violated human dignity may also have been suitable to provoke members of the majority society against the members of the German community.
As the Constitutional Court has pointed out in many of its rulings, the exercise of the freedom of expression should not be aimed at violating the human dignity of others. Exercising the right to freedom of expression shall neither seek to offend the dignity of the Hungarian nation, national, ethnic, racial or religious communities. The Deputy Commissioner for the Rights of National Minorities is committed to the protection of human dignity, also while respecting the freedom of expression. She finds it unacceptable to publicize or publish content that is capable of inciting conflicts among the members of the society, or of deepening existing conflicts and emotions, and of arousing fear and anxiety because of their origin among the members of national minority communities.