A report from Amnesty International entitled “Stranded hope: Hungary’s sustained attack on the rights of refugees and migrants” accuses the country of using the poor treatment of migrants as a deterrent to seeking asylum. The document speaks of complicated bureaucratic procedures and violent behavior by law enforcement to keep migrants from applying for asylum to the authorities in Budapest.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe director, argues that Orbán’s Hungary “has replaced the rule of law with the rule of fear,” based on a system that, in addition to the fences crowned with barbed wire placed on the borders with Serbia and Croatia, includes a whole series of practices to keep migrants away from the country and make them understand that Hungary does not want them.
Dalhuisen, however, does not point the finger only against Budapest but against the European leaders who have not fought against Hungary’s breaches of E.U. law. Yet Orbán and his aides and supporters say that theirs is the only E.U. country to have raised the issue of the defense of the Schengen borders, the only one that really applied the E.U. rules in this area. Amnesty International has joined other organizations in the accusations against the Hungarian government, especially Human Rights Watch.
It is easy to predict, though, that these actions will not discourage Orbán from pursuing a policy that is also openly criticized in the Danubian territory by the center-left and the progressive civil society groups.
Meanwhile, the date of Oct. 2 is getting closer, the day of the referendum on the hated migrant quotas. The campaign carried out by the government is in the final stages, but it has been insistent and pervasive: big propaganda posters posted throughout the country, television ads and rallies especially in provincial areas. The polls give No an overwhelming advantage over the other option: 73 percent compared to just 4 percent, according to the latest survey by the Republikon Institute.
So it seems Orbán’s victory is unavoidable; however, experts consider it may not reach the required quorum. Fifty percent of voters must attend the ballots for the referendum to be valid, but, again according to Republikon, only 48 percent of voters said they intend to vote. But some insist that the actual figure is higher than the polling data.
The government continues to urge voters to take part in the consultation and to vote “No” in order not to jeopardize the future of the country; the opposition center-left is divided between different strategies: boycott, invalidation of the vote or vote for Yes. But the last option is not shared by the majority. Those who promote a desertion at the polls are encouraging people to stay home on Oct. 2 to remain in Europe.
Orbán instead intends to pursue his challenge to the European Union, which, in his view, has proved unable to address effectively and realistically the migrant issue. He hopes that other member states decide to follow the example of Hungary and open similar referenda. According to the latest polls, the percentage of those who have decided not to vote has increased from 17 percent to 21 percent, but many do not know what is best: They fear that even if they do not go to the polls, the promoters of the vote would find a way to get the quorum. There is a clear reference to the possibility of fraud.
Doubt is gripping several opponents of the government, and an explosion in the center of Budapest Saturday night escalated the tension. According to the investigation, it was an attack against the police. Two officers were wounded, but they are in stable condition. However, the incident has increased the fear of terrorist attacks, which, according to the government, are closely related to immigration.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.