Refugees trapped in Hungary demonstrate against authorities

Hundreds of refugees in Hungarian capital demonstrate in Eastern Railway station after authorities block refugees’ journey into wealthier EU nations

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees wave their train tickets outside the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, September 1, 2015

Hundreds of refugees demonstrated outside Budapest's Eastern Railway station on Tuesday, demanding to be permitted to continue with their journey to Germany, a Reuters reporter at the scene stated.

About 100 police officers, wearing helmets and wielding batons, prevented the refugees from entering the station and dozens of the refugees who were inside were forced to evacuate the premise.

Almost 1,000 refugees sat down, staring down at a police blockade after they gad demonstrated by waving their tickets, clapping, booing, and shouting "Germany, Germany" with police lined up at the entrance to the station in an effort to block any attempts made by the refugees to cross the entrance and ride a train.

One refugee man held up a sign that read in German: "Please let us go!"

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told Reuters in an emailed statement that the railway station was closed because Hungary was trying to enforce EU law, which requires anyone who is travelling within Europe to hold a valid passport and a Schengen visa.

Those seeking asylum must remain in the country where they first arrive until their applications are processed.

However, the vast majority of the refugees arriving first reach the continent's southern and eastern states but are determined to travel across Europe and seek asylum further north because they could be provided with their basic needs.

Migrants face Hungarian police in the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, September 1, 2015.

Hassan, a 47-year-old Syrian refugee trapped in Hungary, said that he and two of his friends had each already bought their tickets to Germany for a total of 370 euros.

"They took 125 euros for each ticket to Munich or Berlin, then they stopped and forced us from station," he said. "[They] said station is closed. They said no trains, this station is closed."

Marah, a 20 year-old refugee girl also from Syria who embarked on the journey with her family, said they had already bought six tickets for a RailJet train that was scheduled to leave for Vienna at 9am on Tuesday.

"They should find a solution," she told Reuters. "We are thousands here, where should we go?"

Hungary is located on a major overland transit journey from the Middle East and Africa for refugees who have fled famine, poverty and war, with more than 140,000 people crossing its southern border with Serbia this year alone.

The country reopened its Eastern Railway Terminus on Tuesday after shutting it for more than an hour in the morning and stopping all trains from departing or arriving until further notice, according to national news agency MTI.

Hundreds of refugees are waiting at the station and people have been told to leave the station while police forces lined up at the main entrance, national news agency MTI reported.

Before shutting the station, trains were loaded with hundreds of refugees arriving in Austria and Germany through Hungary on Monday as European Union asylum rules ceased to function under the pressure caused by the huge wave of migration that recently hit the EU.

Czech police officers stated that they had detained 214 refugees, mostly coming from Syria, headed for Germany on overnight trains from Vienna and Budapest.

The Hungarian government has sought to deal with the huge influx of refugees by reinforcing its borders along Serbia with a razor-wire fence.

Budapest is further tightening measures on border crossings by refugees by imposing harsh laws and allocating more than 2,000 so-called "border hunter" patrols to track “trespassers” by September.

Hungarian security forces put wire fences on the Hungary - Serbia border line to prevent illegal immigration in Hungary on August 24, 2015.

Hungary's ruling center-right Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has struck an aggressive tone regarding the refugee crisis.

Antal Rogan, Fidesz's parliamentary caucus leader, said in a statement on Tuesday that "the very existence of Christian Europe" was under threat.

"Would we like our grandchildren to grow up in a United European Caliphate? My answer to that is no," Rogan told the pro-government daily Magyar Idok.

Rogan heavily criticised many EU leaders, one of whom was Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, about what he said was an overly lenient attitude towards the refugee issue.

Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, on Tuesday called for tight control of refugee movement.

"I do not think Hungary would need a single immigrant from Africa or the Middle East," Lazar said. "Europe must use its own human resources fundamentally and if it wants an immigration policy it must be regulated and controlled."

"In the past decade... a leftist view has dominated the European Commission and the European Parliament, that the way to develop Europe was through allowing everyone in and accepting everyone without checks, rules and controls."

TRTWorld and agencies