Scenes from the Opposition Demonstration

On April 21, 2018, the Facebook group Mi vagyunk a többség (We Are the Majority) held an opposition demonstration in Budapest. The demonstration drew tens of thousands of participants, though was somewhat smaller than the demonstration the group held in the city one week earlier.

Participants from across the political spectrum attended the demonstration—a new phenomenon in Hungary, where the opposition to the Orbán government has been fragmented into nationalist, socialist, liberal and green factions that do not cooperate with one another.

The main speaker: Mayor Péter Márki-Zay of Hódmezővásárhely, a city in southern Hungary that was considered an unassailable Fidesz bastion until he won a mayoral by-election there in February 2018 as an opposition independent.

The main explicit message of the demonstration: “You are the new opposition!”

The main implicit message of the demonstration: opposition must be extended from Budapest to the “countryside” (vidék) in order to have any chance of defeating the Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party governing alliance.

The most sobering message of the demonstration (from journalist Réka Kinga Papp): “I must note that I already stood here on a stage [at an opposition demonstration] seven years ago, on October 23, 2011.  And the end of the crowd wasn’t visible then either. I didn’t suspect that seven years later we would be demonstrating against the same political power. I would be very happy if seven years from now we were able to go out onto the streets to celebrate a success.”

The most poignant symbolic occurrence: the “Ode to Joy”–based anthem of the European Union played at the end of the demonstration—following the national anthem of Hungary.

Below are some photos from the demonstration.

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Beginning of the End IV: Signs and Symbols

Below are a some photographs that Orange Files took of signs and symbols at anti-government demonstrations and other political events in Budapest from September 2006 to September 2009. It is the final segment of a four-part gallery that started with Beginning of the End I: the DemonstratorsBeginning of the End II: the Leaders and Beginning of the End III: the Cops.

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See all 51 photos.

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Beginning of the End III: the Cops

Below are a some photographs that Orange Files took of police at anti-government demonstrations in Budapest from September 2006 to September 2009. It is the third of a four-part gallery that started with Beginning of the End I: the Demonstrators and Beginning of the End II: the Leaders and will eventually include photographs under the category Signs and Symbols as well.

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See all 27 photographs.

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Making Politics of Migration: the Civil Cooperation Forum Signs

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“A happy, festive crowd has arrived to Hungary”      (photo: Orange Files).

On October 5, 2015, the pro-government political organization Civil Cooperation Forum (Civil Összefogás Fórum, or CÖF) erected twelve signs at a park near the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest juxtaposing images of opposition political officials and aggressive or seemingly aggressive migrants (see CÖF website in Hungarian).

The signs also display migration-related quotes which the depicted democratic opposition officials have made over the past few months and which radical-nationalist Jobbik President Gábor Vona—who supports the Orbán government’s current migration policy—made during the previous parliamentary cycle.

See entire post.

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Scenes from the Great Migration 4: Leaving Hungary at Hegyeshalom

Migrants walking down bicycle path outside Hegyeshalom toward the Austrian border (photo: Orange Files).

Migrants walking down bicycle path toward the Hungarian-Austrian border (photo: Orange Files).

Since September 22, 2015, the Orbán government has been transporting migrants by train from the Hungarian-Croatian frontier to the village of Hegyeshalom located about two miles from the Hungarian-Austrian border. The government is not registering asylum requests from these migrants and is therefore able to shuttle them through Hungary to Austria in less than 24 hours.

After arriving to Hegyeshalom, the migrants walk through the village and down a roadside bicycle path to the border crossing, where Migration Aid, the Hungarian Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations provide them with food and water before they enter Austria.

On September 26, 2015, three trains carrying between 1,500 and 2,000 migrants each arrived to Hegyeshalom in a six-hour period from early afternoon to early evening. Below are photographs that Orange Files took of these migrants during their walk from the train station to the border of Austria on that date.

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See all 42 photos.

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Below is an Orange Files video of migrants walking outside the village of Hegyeshalom on their way to the Hungarian-Austrian border.

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The Curtain Falls Again

The curtain falls: closing the last gap in the border.

Closing the final gap in the Hungarian-Serbian border (photo: Orange Files).

On this night the “new era” begins: the Orbán government is closing the final gap in the Hungarian-Serbian border fence, the place where the now defunct Szabadka-Szeged railway crosses the frontier, the place where tens of thousands of refugees have entered Hungary over the past few weeks en route to the West. The news has spread quickly among the tens of thousands more who are still on their way: Hungary will seal its border on midnight of September 14–15. The push to make it to the frontier before this hour has been intense, a massive forced march up the railway and dusty trackside roads in northern Serbia: the UNHCR official at the border says that his people counted around 29,000 refugees crossing the frontier into Hungary over the previous two days.

See entire post.

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See all 39 photos.

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Below is an Orange Files video of the closing of the border made from the Serbian side.

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Scenes from the Great Migration 3: the Eastern Railway Station Crisis

Syrian refugees demonstrate outside the Eastern Railway Station in Budapest (photo: Orange Files).

Syrian refugees demonstrate outside the Eastern Railway Station (photo: Orange Files).

On August 23, 2015, Hungarian police removed 150 migrants from a train preparing to depart from the Eastern Railway Station in Budapest to Munich. Over the following 12 days, with the exception of the last day of August, the Orbán government prevented migrants from travelling to Germany via Austria. No officials from any of the three relevant states have yet revealed the reasons for this sudden change in policy after 150,000 migrants had previously been permitted to travel virtually unimpeded through Hungary on their way to Western Europe following their obligatory submission of asylum requests (see Hungary and the Great Migration).

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See all 90 photos.

Below is an Orange Files video from the Eastern Railway Station underpass on a night in early September:

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And So They Left

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Suddenly, imperceptibly, about 1,500 Syrians left the teeming squalor of the Eastern Railway Station in Budapest on September 4, 2015, to make the nearly 200-kilometer trip to Austria on foot along the M1 highway. Below is a gallery of photos that Orange Files took of their trek about 20 kilometers outside of Budapest. They are traveling the same path to the West as several hundred thousand Hungarians did at the end of the Second World War in 1945 and after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

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See all 12 photos.

Below is an Orange Files video of the first third of the column of Syrian refugees marching along the M1 highway:

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The Fields Are Speaking Pashto

This field is speaking Pashto.

The murmur of strange tongues.

The fields are speaking Pashto here in southern Hungary along the border with Serbia. And Arabic and Dari and Urdu. The murmur of these languages in the shrubs and scrubby meadows, in the trees along the roadside ditches, amid the stalks of corn and sunflower. Everywhere the now familiar sounds of unfamiliar words, spoken quietly, asking “what to do? where to go?—when to make a run for the next hiding place?”

As the refugees stream into Hungary along the railway line that is the lone remaining gap in the razor-wire fence erected along the entire length of the border with Serbia, the many who know some English speak as one: “We no want to give fingerprint in Hungary. We want to go to Germany (or Sweden or Norway or Holland). We no want to stay here.”

See entire post.

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Scenes from the Great Migration 2: the Eastern and Western Railway Stations

Below is a gallery of photographs that Orange Files took of migrants at the Eastern and Western railway stations in Budapest on August 26 and August 27, 2015. The NGO Migration Aid is providing food, medical care and donated clothing, blankets and other assistance to the migrants, who are waiting at the railway stations for trains to Austria or camps in Hungary. More than 150,000 migrants have crossed into Hungary from Serbia since the beginning of the year, including around 3,000 per day beginning in late August. Nearly all of these migrants have subsequently left Hungary en route to western Europe, primarily Germany. The Orbán government and state-run media refer to these migrants, the large majority of whom are from Syria or Afghanistan, as “border violators” (határsértő) or “illegal immigrants” (illegális bevándorló). The government is preparing to send the Hungarian army to the border to help control the growing influx of migrants.

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See all 21 photos.

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