Lots of global criticism in the past couple weeks (at long last) of the right-wing government in EU member Hungary for fostering a deeply hostile environment against incoming refugees — and enacting hostile policy.
Police were caught throwing food over a fence into a detention camp to watch refugees scramble miserably for it. A Catholic bishop in Hungary openly rejected the Pope’s appeals for compassion. A camerawoman tripped a Syrian child intentionally; she was affiliated with a partisan media operation advocating Jobbik, the fascist opposition party that is widely viewed as the main competition to the ruling right-wing populist Fidesz party.
Hungarian authorities also packed trains full of people and sent them on to Austria and Germany, unilaterally and against European Union policy. This last move finally prompted the social democratic Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann, to publicly shame his Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán…strongly implying he was behaving like a Nazi:
“Sticking refugees in trains and sending them somewhere completely different to where they think they’re going reminds us of the darkest chapter of our continent’s history.”
Bit of a shame it took this long to call this increasingly authoritarian right-wing regime by its true colors.
Photos also emerged this week of the long-awaited “border fence” Hungary’s Orbán had ordered the military and prison inmates to erect as rapidly as possible.
Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.
Last month from AFD: “Border fence politics comes to the EU”
Yesterday, Associated Press: “Hungary puts inmates to work on border fence to bar migrants”
Using materials prepared by inmates in Hungarian prisons, 900 soldiers will build a fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia by December to stem the torrent of migrants, officials said Thursday
Prime Minister Viktor Orban says Hungary does not want any migrants from outside Europe. But over the past months, 80 percent of the refugees requesting asylum in Hungary have come from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most leave within days to richer EU countries like Germany before their asylum claims are settled.
The government’s anti-immigrant billboard campaign and a questionnaire sent to voters linking migration with terrorism have been criticized by the U.N.’s refugee agency, among others.
“American ambassador’s frank memoir of Hungary’s slide into autocracy” – The Washington Post: Eleni Kounalakis, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, reports on the once-promising democracy.
“The problem in Hungary, I realized, wasn’t just the rise of anti-Semitic, neofascist voices and acts. Hungarian society at large was responding to those radical voices with disproportionate silence and apathy.”
As U.S. ambassador to Hungary from January 2010 to July 2013, Kounalakis had a front-row seat for the implosion of what was once the most promising new democracy in the former Soviet bloc. Neo-fascists were elected to parliament. Prime Minister Viktor Orban presided over a rewriting of the constitution and the passage of hundreds of laws eroding the independence of the judiciary, the civil service and the media. […]
Yet the international response to Orban’s “Two-Thirds Revolution” was muted at first. For months, the European Union said nothing as one of its members disassociated itself from Western liberalism. Then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, meeting Orban during a 2011 visit, took it on himself not to raise constitutional concerns after being spun by a sweet-talking deputy.
Logo of the right-wing “Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance” ruling party of Hungary.
Recently on AFD:
Border fence politics comes to the EU (in Hungary)
The anti-liberal far-right reign of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán continues, once again defying all basic principles of the European Union his country joined in 2004 after a referendum with overwhelming voter approval.
“Hungary to erect fence on Serbian border” – Irish Times:
Hungary plans to build a security fence along its entire border with Serbia to halt the flow of illegal migrants, despite domestic and international criticism of its handling of the issue.
Officials say more than 53,000 people – mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans – have lodged asylum requests in Hungary this year, compared with 43,000 last year and 2,157 in 2012. Most file a request before moving west, however, and prime minister Viktor Orban has been accused of taking a harsh line against refugees to counter the rise in popularity of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party.
Mr Orban’s office said yesterday the government had ordered the interior ministry to “prepare for closure of the Hungarian-Serbian border by next Wednesday; this will be achieved by erecting a four-metre-high fence” along its 175km length.
Mr Orban’s government has also erected billboards around the country, with slogans such as “If you come to Hungary, you can’t take Hungarians’ jobs”.
Clever differentiation of his far-right party from the even further right Jobbik Party. He holds a huge majority while they are a minor presence. They’re essentially a stalking horse to justify his outrageous policies.
Fascist is as fascist does. Orbanism rising.
For those not following the Hungary situation (and I’ll admit I’ve barely had time to pay attention to it myself) here’s a line from an Al Jazeera America article that should demonstrate the severity of the problem (which goes well beyond a tax debate):
It’s rare for the usually aloof and cautious European Union commissioners in Brussels to call for street demonstrations in one of the EU’s member states. But since none of the their badgering had blunted the power plays of Hungary’s autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the EU commissioner for digital issues, Neelie Kroes, tweeted support for Hungary’s protesters. They took to the streets last week to protest Orban’s latest attempt to curtail anti-government opinion: a proposed nationwide tax on Internet data traffic — an attack on the country’s the last free platform for free thinking and dissent.
And the most appalling bit of all? Prime Minister Orban’s Fidesz party is overwhelmingly the most popular by vote and most numerous in members in the whole country. He’s not going anywhere. Authoritarianism does not always come via coup or revolution. Sometimes we just vote it into power with cheers.