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An inhuman agenda

Editorial |

The word, “shocking”, would be a gross understatement in any response to Hungary's decidedly heartless decision on migrants. The country’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is entitled to his subjective reflection; but to officially describe the migrants’ issue as “a Trojan horse for terrorism” is to proceed from conclusion to premise… and with calculated malevolence. There can be no quarrel with his expressed objective to “save Europe”, but the praxis that is set to be adopted within a week is decidedly inhuman, to say the least. The asylum-seekers will be kept in converted shipping containers while they wait for their cases to be heard via video-link. In a faint echo of Donald Trump's aversion towards a particular community, Orban considers the migrants, many of whom are Muslims, as a threat to European Christian identity and culture. The manner of confinement is breathtaking and human rights groups have been remarkably prompt in condemning Tuesday's vote by the Hungarian parliament. Even civil rights groups within Hungary and some socialist MPs have fiercely opposed the measure, but to no effect. The legislation has nonetheless been passed overwhelmingly by 138 votes to six. Support was lent by Orbán’s Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik. However much the likes of Angela Merkel might try to accommodate the migrants, it is the fractured eastern democracies that now pose a forbidding challenge to any essay towards humanitarian intervention. Hungary's withers remain unwrung despite Amnesty International’s stout debunking of the legislation ~ “The proposals would breach EU law and the refugee convention. Dumping all refugees and migrants into containers isn’t a refugee policy, it’s avoiding one,” the group said in a statement, denouncing the Hungarian moves as a “flagrant violation of international law.”

The governments of the liberal western democracies must react to such violation that masquerades as policy on refugees. The risk of being rendered breathless is dangerously real, and far greater weightage ought to be accorded to human life, and this must of necessity precede the pressure on economy, which ought legitimately to be addressed by a latter-day Concert of Europe. At this juncture, the least that can be expected of the European Union is  to take action against what by any reckoning are Hungary’s illegal and deeply inhumane measures. The legislation violates the country’s obligations under international and EU laws. The UN’s refugee agency has warned that it   “will have a terrible physical and psychological impact on women, children and men who have already greatly suffered.” It would be dangerous for Hungary to be impervious to the rising tide of world opinion. The law will also require asylum-seekers to have their fingerprints and photographs taken, or be thrown out of the country for non-cooperation. Hungary has crafted an inhuman agenda.