The Wall-street Journal reports the protest of Hungarian people against their government’s release of the Azerbaijani murderer. A very welcome gesture from the Hungarian people, it certainly means a lot to us. Bravo!
By Gergo Racz
A crowd of about 1,500 people gathered late Tuesday in Budapest and asked for Armenia’s forgiveness in the extradition of an Azerbaijani man, who had been convicted of murder but was later pardoned and decorated upon his return home.
Hungary remains in the center of stoked historic animosity between the two Caucasian countries after the surprise extradition Friday of Ramil Sahib Safarov, an Azerbaijani national who was convicted of murdering Armenian Gurgen Margarjan in Budapest in 2004. The two men had participated in a NATO-backed training course. During that time, Mr. Safarov used an ax to decapitate Mr. Margarjan in his sleep and had planned to assault another Armenian, the criminal investigation found.
Armenia was outraged by the extradition and severed all diplomatic ties with Hungary after news of Mr. Safarov’s pardoning Friday.
Speakers at the event organized by the civil liberties group Milla — derived from One Million Strong for the Freedom of the Press — condemned Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government for its participation in freeing Mr. Safarov. They asked the Armenian people for forgiveness and called on the government to step down after “shaming” the country.
Several participants at the rally carried photographs of the late Mr. Margarjan as well as billboards condemning the government’s actions in the extradition.
Hungary gave no prior public indication that it was planning to hand over Mr. Safarov to Baku after he received a life sentence from a Hungarian court. Government officials later condemned Azerbaijan for its decision to pardon him and stressed that Hungary acted in good faith and conducted the transfer transparently and in line with international law.
This didn’t quell the anger Armenians felt over the matter, leading to protests world-wide near Hungarian diplomatic units and the burning of Hungarian flags. President Serzh Sargsyan urged fellow Armenians not to abuse Hungary’s national banner, saying it was a symbol of the people and not the country’s prime minister.
“For many years we have been on friendly terms. Many Armenians have given their lives for the sake of Hungary’s freedom and independence,” Mr. Sargsyan was quoted as saying by the Arminfo Armenian news agency. “So, a mean act by one person or a party must not be allowed to provoke our hostility towards the Hungarians. Of course, it is our duty to protest, but we must not betray our values.”