Helping refugees is 'treason', say Hungarian MPs

Helping refugees is 'treason', say Hungarian MPs
Analysis: The Hungarian parliament has debated the escalating refugee crisis with reference to population exchange and the Ottoman empire.
3 min read
04 September, 2015
Refugees protest on train tracks, refusing to be sent to camps [AFP]
Global attention in recent days has turned to Hungary's reaction to the refugee crisis, as Syrian refugees have been desperately attempting to pass through the country.

Yesterday, trains were filled with refugees who thought they were heading to safety in Germany or Austria - only for it to emerge the trains were heading instead for a notorious refugee camp. Many noted that the incident drew yet more parallels with the Second World War.

"I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists in Brussels.

"We do not like the consequences." He also referred to the country's 150-year history of Ottoman rule during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Unrest in the camps

A mass break-out from Röszke camp near the Serbia border on Friday morning has led to police hunting down 300 people and closing the border area.

There have also been reports of breakouts from Bickse camp, where police attempted to quell unrest with tear gas and riot gear.

Meanwhile, kilometres of refugees - accompanied by swathes of international media - are trekking on foot to the Austrian border in an attempt to cross. 

On Friday, Hungarian parliamentarians called for the criminalisation of undocumented migration and the sheltering of refugees - which would allow police to search homes, without the owner's permission, for any clandestine Syrians who may haven taken sanctuary with a family.

Certain comments made during the session demonstrate the racism that has been brewing within the ruling parties of Hungary - the ruling anti-immigrant party of Fidesz, and the even further right-wing party of Yobbick - who said that they would fight "population exchange" with "all means".

"Registering refugees is high treason," said another of the party's speakers, reported Die Zeit

"Europe didn't get its act together during the Ottoman invasion either," said an MP from the Christian KDNP party.

The Green-Left MP Adam Schiffler spoke out, criticising the government for not seeking consensus over the crisis, although agreeing on the point that Western European policy towards refugees was also to blame.

A socialist opposition speaker said the Fidesz government's real aim had nothing to do with refugees, but was more concerned with limiting citizens' rights and freedoms.

The Hungarian government has also been criticised for anti-Semitic and anti-Romany sentiments.

Reuters on Friday reported that Hungary had been consulting with Israel on a plan to build a new-and-improved wall to keep out refugees. 

As the German embassy in Budapest reiterated, according to the Dublin III agreement, refugees are required to apply for asylum at the first European country of entry - though many have said that the current crisis marks the death of that convention.