Anti-conscription mouvement in Hungary

History and news of

League Against Conscription

During the "communist" regieme, there was no political activity against conscription. That time the defence of the homeland was a "saint duty for every citizen". However, some men refused to join the army for religious reason, they were imprisoned until 1989, so the men belonging to Jehovah's Witnesses, some fractions of adventists, nazarens, and other small christian denominations

A catholic community /Bokor/ had a great influence in the 80ths
among  the Hungarian intellectuals. They declared non-violence,
and many of them were imprisoned during the communist rule.

When the political freedom was realised, a legal non-violent peace
organization  was founded (Alba Kör). They started campaigns in the interests of COs, and they collected signatures against conscription.

In 1991 the Anti-Violence Forum was founded from individuals and some organizations. This Forum campaigned against conscription, against
violence, and for a more strict gun control.

On 22th May 1993, an important event took place: the First Meeting of the Opponents of Conscription. A lot of famous intellectuals attended the meeting. George Konrad, the writer wrote an esay for this occasion which was read by Iván Darvas. The essay later was published in the popular daily Népszabadság.

On 13th November 1993, the League Against Conscription was
founded by about 200 members. The League was declared as an organization open to any direction, to any individual. Anybody can join who accept the Statutes. The League started to grow quickly, presetly it has about 1600 members. Radical pacifists and military officiers are among the members. The
League is supported morally by famous intellectuels, writers, actors and

In 1996 a new constitution was planned in Hungary. The first draft of the planned constitution contained conscription as an important part of duties of citizens. The Leage launched an active successful campaign: the later version did not contain conscription as a rule. However, the Parliament had not accepted the planned constitution, the old one remained in effect.

In 1998 the political party Alliance of Liberal Democrates (SZDSZ) urged the Parliament unsuccessfully to abrogate conscription by 2002. Presently the dominant parties of the parliament refers to end of consciption as a long-term aim which maybe actual after 10-15 years.

In 1998 the Minister of Defence initiated a disciplinary procedure against one of the leaders of the League, lietenant-colonel Mihály Szûcs. The Minister qualified the activity exerted in the League as a political activity forbidden to the members of the army. The League fight against this discriminative procedure since it dangered the civil controll, spoiled the relation between the army and the civil sphere, and frightens the military officiers. The obvious aim of this disciplinary procedure was to weaken the anti-conscription mouvement. The deputy ombudsman Peter Polt carried out an investigation in the issue. Due to this investigation, officier M. Szûcs renewed his activity in  the League.

The League Against Conscription put great emphasis to the victims of conscription. In the last decade many conscripts and reservists of Yugoslavia tried to avoid military service in the war conflicts. The League expressed its solidarity, and urged protection for them. In 1997 HEL together with other organizations in Hungary and Yugoslavia started a mouvement entitled "Stop Conscription in Europe Now!". This mouvement gets more and more support, and it was a core of the international Anti-Conscription Network.

The majority of Hungarian youg men regularly avoid cconscription by different methods. E.g. in Budapest, only 5% of the invited men joined the army. In March 2001, a doctor was arrested since he had sold documents to 19 conscripted men to prove their health problems at a price for 50-100.000 HUF. The Hungarian government wants the conscripting procedure be more strict.