Article originally published by Refugee Crisis in Hungary
Author: Dóra Laborczi
NOT IN MY NAME
Seven Thousand People Demonstrated in the Protest Against Government Measures Concerning Refugees
BUDAPEST – seven thousand Hungarians demonstrated in protest against planned government measures concerning refugees and expressed their support for refugees arriving in Hungary.
In the past few days a critical situation has developed as a result of the closure of Keleti railway station in Hungary. Authorities do not allow thousands of refugees staying in the Transit Zone to approach the trains going to Vienna and Munich. Refugees are enraged as many of them have already bought their tickets and were not checked upon purchasing their tickets.
Measures taken by Hungarian authorities are extremely chaotic – consisting mostly of police interventions. 140 000 refugees have shown up in the country in the past 70 days – they have been helped almost exclusively by Migration Aid and other civil society organisations that take over the government’s role of providing for the refugees. Migration Aid says that government measures, their helplessness and hate campaign is inciting people and may cause tragedy as tension in the Transit Zones is gradually increasing.
It is understandable that civilians that have been taken over the tasks of the government for the past ten weeks have had enough. This and the government’s planned Bill is why they organized a demonstration for Wednesday night (discussion of the Bill will take place on Thursday and Friday in Parliament).
A peaceful crowd marched from Nyugati (Western) station to the Parliament; many people were carrying EU banners and posters expressing their solidarity. In front of Parliament, Zsuzsanna Zsohár, spokesperson of the biggest volunteer organisation helping refugees, of Migration Aid, held a speech in which she read their petition addressed to the decision-makers and thanked the thousands of Hungarian volunteers and donors for their help, for donating food, toys, clothes and other goods and for sacrificing their time and energy so that refugees arriving to Hungary would encounter a humane reception.
She recounted that in the almost 70 recent days, the organisation spent 6 million HUF donated by civilians only on Budapest transport tickets and 840 000 forints were raised for medicine in a single day.
’In 70 days, 70 thousand people thanked us for guiding them along their way. I hope they will reach good places and they will find a place where they can raise their children in love and peace until their homes are rebuilt.’ Zsuzsanna Zsohár stressed that ’there is no such thing as an illegal person and no one should be demonized. Demons are in us’, she said.
She expressed her indignance at the government making volunteer work look insincere and at the fact that the measures taken by the government concerning refugees only build distrust towards them. Zsohár shared her insights about the police-force as well, ’Our gratitude goes out to well-meaning policemen who proved reluctant in assisting to a nation-sized Stanford prison-like experiment’ , she said referring to the barbed wire fence raised at the southern border of Hungary and to the deployment of the army to that border. In connection with the latter she emphasized that instead of policing to maintain order they might as well be using the available means of the military for providing for the refugees.
She offered to take all members of the Parliament to the Transit Zone instead of them having a day of discussion the next day, she added she would be happy to arrange a hurdle or contest for them with information in Pashto or Farsi and blind maps – hinting at the fact that refugees looking for asylum, at first, were given blind maps in Hungarian by the authorities.
The demonstration ended with songs and the placing of flowers. If today’s parliamentary discussion does not reach an acceptable result, the demonstration will continue on Thursday
Volunteers’ Petition Against the Measures Planned by the Hungarian Parliament:
MIGRATION AID calls upon all members of the Hungarian Government:
- to immediately cease their fear mongering and instead engage in substantial measures to address the actual needs arising from the asylum situation in Hungary;
- to immediately stop demonizing any groups of people;
- to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- to commit to and play an active role in the European policy aimed at the integration of migrants
The rhetoric of the Hungarian Government has been demonizing certain groups of people in order to generate fear and thus justify security measures, such as the potential intervention of the army at the Hungarian-Serbian border. The civil society organization, MIGRATION AID, has been calling on the Government for the past ten weeks to take specific measures in order to deal with refugees arriving to Hungary effectively and humanely. Today’s crisis is the result of the Government’s manipulative measures and of their obvious lack of a strategic approach toward the issue.
Instead of engaging in a dialogue with MIGRATION AID and other organizations and volunteer groups involved in helping refugees, the Government plans to introduce inhumane laws that are seriously infringing Hungarian and European regulations.
The state-owned media is broadcasting false and misleading reports, suggesting that large groups of refugees are rioting. Meanwhile the situation is under control by volunteers who, using civilian donations (often their own), are providing food, water and logistics; all despite constantly changing, disorganized and inconsistent governmental regulations.
Thus it is clear that the government has failed.
MIGRATION AID has been doing its job quietly, solving problems on the ground every day. Now it is time to speak up. We are organizing a silent demonstration on September 2 (Wednesday), at 7 PM in order to put pressure on the Government regarding the issues listed above.
The route of the demonstration: Nyugati Railway Station, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Alkotmány utca, Széchényi tér. The estimated length of the demonstration is 2 hours. We ask everyone who plans to join us to demonstrate peacefully, respecting the legal order.
We ask members of political parties to join us as individuals and do not use any symbols and signs of political parties.
Extreme right and other counter-protesting groups may join the demonstration, so we ask everyone to stay calm.
MIGRATION AID is a politically neutral organization independent of political parties. Our aim is to promote humanity and solidarity as fundamental values.