Hungary to Syrian refugees: Stay out!

Hungary's increasingly fascistic Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in Brussels to pitch the EU on his tough new anti-immigrant policy, issued a warning to Syrian refugees: stay out of his country. In a statement all the more sickening for being veiled in an Orwellian cloak of "morality" and "humanitarian" concern, he told reporters: "The moral, human thing is to make clear 'please don't come! Why you have to go from Turkey to Europe? Turkey is a safe country. Stay there, it's risky to come! We can't guarantee that you will be accepted here.'" And of course by "can't guarantee that you will be accepted," what he really means is "we will not accept you." Orban hopes to push through his new anti-immigrant law by Sept. 15, making it a criminal offense to cross the Hungarian border without proper documentation, or to cause damage to the new "security fence" being built along the 175-kilometer frontier with Serbia. (Euronews)

While Orban spoke in Brussels, clashes broke out west of Budapest, as police tried to force migrants (many or most of them Syrian refugees) off a train and into a refugee camp. The Austria-bound train had finally been allowed to leave after migrants and refugees occupied the main Budapest station in an hours-long stand-off, but was stopped just outside the city, sparking a second stand-off. Police ordered journalists from the scene at Bicske, declaring it an "operation zone." (BBC News) But not before harrowing video footage got out of police in riot gear brutalizing terrified refugees. In one clip posted by Sky News, a desperate father drags his wife and infant child down onto the tracks and tries to cover them with his body. As riot police pull them away, the refugees scream: "No camp, no camp!"

The refugees have damn good reason not to want to go into the camp—even apart from the threat of being deported back to a war zone. Members of Hungary's openly fascist Jobbik party have pitched their own tent at the camp, as a sort of unwelcoming committee. Near the camp's entrance they've hung a banner reading: "Budapest is not a refugee camp." There is no indication that the police have intervened in this stunt. (NBC)

The supposedly "center-right" (sic) Orban is obviously conniving with the open fascists like Jobbik. Lydia Gall blogged for Human Rights Watch back in June, when Orban announced the border fence plan:

The proposed fence is the culmination of a several month long anti-migrant campaign by the government, which includes a national consultation on "migration and terrorism," delivered through a questionnaire addressed to eight million Hungarian citizens that contains leading questions suggesting that everyone crossing into Hungary is an economic migrant, a terrorist—or both. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on June 10 condemning the national consultation and the questionnaire, calling on the Hungarian government to withdraw it.

The government has also launched an anti-migrant billboard campaign with messages, in Hungarian, saying things like, "If you come to Hungary, you can't take the jobs of Hungarians" and "If you come to Hungary you must respect our culture." Since few refugees and migrants understand Hungarian, these messages appear to be aimed more at Hungarian voters.

The global fetish for separation walls is a grim response to the world's greatest refugee crisis since the UN started keeping records after World War II. Orban's call for the Syrians to stay in Turkey has an especially grim irony. Turkey (which has already taken in nearly a million Syrian refugees) is now building its own wall along the Syrian border… This after Turkish security forces have repeatedly fired on Syrian refugees at the border…

  1. Refugees pass through Hungary

    Hungarian authorities seem to have been shamed in letting the migrants and refugees from the stopped train pass through the country after they broke through police lines. The migrants, some 10,000 srtrong, started on foot, and some Hungarians lined the highway to support them with food and water. They were eventually put on buses, and were greeted by hundreds of Austrian supporters who handed out fruit and bottles of water as they crossed the frontier. They were then allowed to pass through Austria to Germany, where they were similarly greeted. Public sympathy on the issue was of course aroused by the horrific photo of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old refugee from Kobani who washed up dead on a Turkish beach. Some 5,000 refugees are still in overcrowded camps in Hungary. (NYT, ATC, Sept. 5; NYT, Reuters, BBC News, Sept. 4)

    1. Austria to re-impose border controls

      After just one day, Austria now says it will end the relaxation of border controls after extraordinary measures were brought in to allow the unimpeded inflow of thousands of migrants from Hungary. Citing an emergency situation, Austria denies being in violation of the Schengen agreement, despite imposing border checks within the supposed passport-free zone. (ITV, Sept. 6; The Guardian, Aug. 31)