Hungary

Luke Cooper reports on his visit to Hungary, a European Union member state where democratic freedoms are no longer taken for granted.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto accused United Nations officials on September 19 of “spreading lies” with their criticism of Budapest’s anti-migration policies.

The comments came just days after new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and UN rights experts harshly criticised Hungary’s immigration policies.

Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “it was obvious” the UN officials were “biased pro-migration officials”.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto accused United Nations officials on September 19 of “spreading lies” with their criticism of Budapest’s anti-migration policies.

The comments came just days after new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and UN rights experts harshly criticised Hungary’s immigration policies.

Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “it was obvious” the UN officials were “biased pro-migration officials”.

Austria, as well as Serbia and Croatia, have joined other European countries in temporarily closing their borders. On September 21, Croatia closed its last checkpoint for trucks on the Serbian border where thousands of refugees are waiting to cross in the hope of a better life.
After police violence stopped refugees crossing Serbia-Hungary border, many went to Croatia. Some have since reached Austria and Germany. Croatia-Serbia border, September 18. Hungarian riot police used tear gas and water cannons against crowds of refugees and migrants on September 17. Clashes at the Horgos-Roszke border crossing with Serbia lasted for hours, after hundreds of refugees and migrants protested to demand entry to Hungary.
It is the single image that has crystallised the horror of the refugee crisis in Europe: On September 2, a photographer took a picture of the lifeless body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Kurdish refugee from Syria, lying face-down on a Turkish beach. The toddler was one of at least 12 refugees — including his five-year-old brother Galip, and their mother Rihan — who drowned during a desperate bid to reach the Greek island of Kos, joining more than 2500 refugees who have perished in the Mediterranean this year.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on September 9 a novel approach to stemming the flow of refugees from Syria: bombing the country. He also announced plans to accept a further 12,000 Syrian refugees on top of his government's miserly quota, but was quick to dispel any hopes that Australia might be abandoning its status as the Western world's leading abuser of refugees. Abbott told ABC Radio National on September 10 that Syrian refugees being held in the Australian-run concentration camps in Nauru and Manus Island would not be released.
30,000 people marched in Vienna on August 31 to demonstrate against inhumane treatment of refugees. In less than a fortnight a series of tragedies took place on the borders of Europe, spurring a continent-wide debate over refugee policy. On August 26, about 200 refugees perished at sea as their ship capsized off the coast of Libya on its way to Italy.
Syrian refugees on Greece-Macedonia border. Photo: Amnesty International. “Are we animals? Why? Why?” Those were the words of one Syrian refugee to BBC's Channel 4 recently after Macedonian police attacked desperate families seeking entry into the country along the border with Greece. The refugee crisis has grown to immense proportions. Tens of thousands of people have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks. Macedonia
Jobbik, a far-right ultra-nationalist racist party established in 2007, made significant electoral gains in the Hungarian elections, garnering just over 20% of the national vote in the April poll. Under Hungary’s system of proportional representation, this result (up 5% from last showing) makes Jobbik Hungary’s second-strongest party. This assures it a significant agenda-setting presence in an already right-wing dominated parliament.
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