Prison awaits Hungarians who help refugees

We have been here before. Fidesz crosses what appears to be that proverbial line in the sand. Hungarian civil society protests. Hungarian columnists express outrage. A handful of European Union politicians demand a firm response from the EU and, in particular, disciplinary action from the European People’s Party, of which Fidesz is a member. And then the voices of protest and calls for action subside, most everything moves ahead as Mr. Orbán planned, as he sets his eyes on the next line in the sand to be crossed. And then we go through this same cycle again, and again and again.

On Tuesday, Fidesz submitted to Parliament a bill ridiculously titled “Stop Soros.” As György Balavány writes in one of the best opinion pieces on the subject: this bill has nothing to do with George Soros and it has absolutely nothing to do with human trafficking. The bill is about incarcerating Hungarians who are deemed to have assisted illegal migration in any way whatsoever. Hungarians who simply see a man, woman or child in need and give him or her food, clothing or temporary lodging could face prison, if the person they helped turns out to have entered Hungary illegally. When someone is in crisis, civilized people in a civilized society step up to help. They do not first ask the individual to produce paperwork as to his or her legal status. The Orbán government’s most odious trespass was never its attack against independent media, its insipid corruption or its deconstruction of checks and balances, but rather the way that it has worked to strip Hungarian society of its humanity.

As Mr. Balavány writes, “this law not only contravenes the spirit of the Geneva Convention, which even grants rights to refugees who are in the country without a permit, but it also contravenes all that western civilization, based on Judeo-Christian traditions, considers to be normal and decent.”

Having an enemy that Hungarians can despise with cult-like fury, someone to serve as a target for the most lurid vitriol and occasionally physical violence, serves as the underpinning of the Orbán regime. In stark contrast to communist ruler János Kádár, Mr. Orbán is unable to usher in a period of “peaceful”  consolidation–even after more than eight consecutive years in power and with the security of a two-thirds majority, not to mention the thoroughly decimated opposition.

Mr. Soros and migrants can only be used a boogeymen for so long. Mr. Orbán needs new enemies–and these will now be fellow Hungarians. As Mr. Balavány notes: “If you hide, feed or care for refugees in any way, or if you are “pro-migrant,” you are an enemy of the homeland and the full force of the law will be used against you. If you demonstrate humanity, if you help the persecuted, the henchmen of the regime will come for you. Such a horrid law has never before been born in 21st century Hungary, but there were examples of this in 20th century Hungarian history.”

Hungarian volunteers provider aid to migrants near Röszke. This photo is from 2015.

That said, Fidesz did remove a few of the most problematic elements from the original proposal. For instance, the original bill would have required any NGO working with refugees first receive approval from the Interior Ministry. This has been scrapped. But other elements of the legislation are equally draconian. For example, offering the most basic level of aid to an illegal migrant can land you in jail for between 50 day to 90 days. Aiding migrants within an 8 km zone of the international border can lead to imprisonment for a full year. Fidesz added that even producing pamphlets or other printed material and providing these to refugees or migrants can result in a jail or prison sentence.

The Hungarian opposition parties have no ability to halt the Stop Soros bill before parliament. Fidesz has a two-thirds majority in the legislature. At this point, only the European People’s Party has the ability to apply pressure. Thus far, they have been mostly unwilling to do so.


  1. Your argument is flawed from the start, because we are not talking refugees but rather illegal migrants. Most of the migrants crossed several safe countries on their way to Hungary, therefore not refugees in need of protection from anything. These people are just illegally crossing borders in search of the sweetest asylum deals out there. This is precisely the flawed mentality which got the EU into trouble back in 2015, because with this mentality and therefore policy what we have is potentially a few billion people on this planet who could show up in the EU and make a valid claim for asylum, due to war, famine, oppression, persecution and so on and so on. Do you really think it is a good idea to continue with this line of argument?

    • Avatar Reality Check says:

      You are really are Peter, the boy who cried wolf. Few billion migrants? Really?

      • I’m not saying a few billion would show up. But it is a fact that given author’s definition, as well as definition used to grant asylum by many EU countries, a few billion would be eligible around the world. And if it were not for the Turkey and Libya deals, a few million would show up every year right now. Eventually, that could turn into perhaps even tens of millions given the speed with which word gets out these days. There is nothing outrageous about what I wrote here. The UN recently warned that a massive wave of migrants from the Sahel, comprising 500 million people could be set in motion towards Europe, which would eclipse the one sparked by Syria.

        So yes, the EU could potentially be faced with periods where even tens of millions might show up in a year. That is especially the case if EU continues to falsely call those who crossed through several safe states “refugees”, as author also did here.

        But of course, some “progressives” would like nothing more than to see such a migrant influx into Europe. It would really speed up the ethno-cultural suicide of the natives there.

  2. Avatar StrandedinSopron says:

    ” The bill is about incarcerating Hungarians who are deemed to have assisted illegal migration in any way whatsoever”

    Yes and no. The border is wired to high heaven, so, in effect, the only people assisting “illegal migration”, aka asylum seekers must be Orban’s border guards.

    In reality, Orban’s pathological hatred of the NGO sector is not based on or merely reflecting Hungarians’ general hatred of migrants (although it did win him the election). Most of the civil sector being targeted do not deal solely with refugee rights but also exposing corruption and want to protect media and judicial independence, they are human rights multitaskers if you like.

    Anyone taken to prison on the basis of helping refugees is also one less person working to expose Fidesz corruption.

  3. Avatar StrandedinSopron says:

    Also Mr Adam, attention being concentrated on “Stop Soros” also conveniently hides from EU gaze the various moves now taking place to take down the independent judicial council. Nobody is talking about that

  4. Avatar Bendeguz79 says:

    At least Hungary scares the human smugglers with prison.
    Yet the EU does absolutely nothing about those who bring many central Africans from Lybia , charging no less than $ 5,000 in unsafe small boats to Italy.
    Thousands have lost their life in overloaded tiny boats.
    Just why is the EU impotens ?
    Mr.Soros’ prediction about the future of the EU is very valid.
    Like it or not ,but Orban is revered and envied in many EU states.

    • They are not impotent but perverse. They announce that anyone who shows up with a credible claim for asylum will get it. That is the pull effect. Then they make the kind of deals they made with Turkey to keep them away. If they want the migrants, they should send planes to fly them over, not invite them to float across the sea, break the law by paying smugglers and illegally breaching sovereign borders. All this because they cannot admit that they are wrong, so thousands of people have to pay for it with their lives, and political chaos needs to reign in the EU.

  5. Avatar lynn warford says:

    Hungary as a Nation is 1,100 years old, with one of the rarest languages in existence. And, with a population of under 10 million it would be easy to destroy the demographics of such a small and unique Nation via forced migration. Larger powers have throughout history been trying to destroy it. Now it’s the leftists turn. It’s the suicidal, genocidal EU and Merkels open door policy and the accompanying social benefits that are drawing millions of 3rd world migrants across many safe Nations to destroy European cultures and demographics forever. Only to be replaced with failed people from failed Nations who will turn Beautiful, cultured Europe into the same kind of 3rd world shit hole that they left. Only then there will be no advanced, civilized places left on Earth to flee to. Then the mass starvation and begins of the artificial population that the leftists created by propping them up with Western Aid, but failing to teach them how to control their birth rates so that they can have a manageable and sustainable family size with enough resources to provide for them. Common sense says that you can help more people on their own land than you can by encouraging them to cross dangerous seas and deserts. As far as Orban and the lefts accusations of corruption…. If he saves Europe, then that’s by far the most important thing! Both Orban and Trump have 5 children and many grandchildren. And, I believed that they Do very much care about the world their children will inherent. Can’t say the same for the childless Merkel who has no future or anyone to preserve Europe for.

  6. Avatar The samaritan says:

    Paul and Silas were in prison…I invite everybody to read the story.

  7. Avatar The samaritan says:

    Only God can save …..

  8. Two political earthquace hit the EU.
    Italy finally has a government, a populist and Euro-sceptic government.
    Set to increase to expel illegal immigrants.

    In Spain, PM Rajoy has been removed by the Parlament in a no confidence vote.

    Both countries has a very serious economic problem, very high youth unemployment around 50%.
    Italy is in financial debt like Greece.

    It all effects the markets. It’s a good time to invest in EU stocks.

  9. Avatar StrandedinSopron says:

    “It’s the suicidal, genocidal EU…..”

    Easy Solution then…
    Leave the EU!

    • Gee! Never heard that one before “you don’t like it, get out!” Except that the same ones who say that, know very well that the EU would devastate any small East European country economically if it ever dared to do so. Hungary, just like most other countries will have to stay with it until it collapses, at which point Hungary will be better prepared than most to exit, with its own currency in place, and the current trend of improving debt/GDP. But not until the time is right, because as long as there will be an EU to punish Hungary for leaving, it is not an option.

  10. Avatar Pityi Palkó says:

    Central Hungary constituted an integral part of the Ottoman Empire for 150 years. That’s about 4 or 5 generations. Yet, little cultural, linguistic and architectural evidence of the 150-year period of Ottoman rule has remained in Hungary. I am aware of only a few Turkish words originating from this period are used in modern Hungarian, such as dohány (tobacco), kávé (coffee) and kefe (brush).
    These facts should only encourage us to show a little humanity towards today’s downtrodden refugees. According to christian teachings, this is the right thing to do.

    • Your argument actually proves the opposite. 150 years of occupation did not change society as much as what we see in Western Europe right now, after a few decades of robust demographic colonization.

  11. Avatar StrandedofSopron says:

    So “Stop Brussels but we will keep holding out the begging bowl” is the message.

    At least, there is an honesty in your response and you do seem to be aware that Hungary is capable of leaving the EU at any point it chooses. I am not sure that Lynn and indeed many Fidesz voters are aware of the voluntary nature of its membership of the EU

    • You are completely out of touch with reality! Voluntary? Yes joining was voluntary. And yes, there is a legal avenue to exit. These are all facts. But it is also a fact that EU reprisal measures against any smaller country if it were to do so, in effect makes it an impossible choice to make. Even for Britain which is a fifth of the EU economy, and much less trade-reliant on the EU, the EU elites have made it clear that they intend to make sure that the UK will have it worse outside the EU than within, precisely because they want to deter others from quitting the EU. This despite the fact that UK is the world’s fifth-largest economy, which makes such measures painful for the EU as well. Now, with Hungary making up a whole 1% of the EU economy, it goes without saying that if Hungary were to choose to leave, the EU could afford to get as punitive as it desires to, with no meaningful consequences to its own interests, and only a fool would believe that they would not do so. I don’t think you believe that either. It is just that you have a mean-spirited position towards Hungary & Hungarians, for whatever reason and would not mind to see such an outcome.

      Your mean-spirited attitude comes across when you say things like: “Stop Brussels but we will keep holding out the begging bowl”. Yes, Hungary is a net beneficiary of the EU budget. But EU membership is more than just that budget. For instance, when joining, all countries had to provide concessions which met some powerful business and economic interests in the West. Membership for Eastern countries also meant many decisions which have been to the detriment of these countries. For instance the obstruction of South Stream. For Hungary, it meant losing out on cheaper gas, jobs, as well as about $150 million/year lost in transit fees. That one decision alone, which in my view was made to favor Germany and its Nord Stream 2 plans amounts to costs that are equivalent to about 15% of Hungary’s net EU budget benefit. I could provide more examples where EU membership is also detrimental to Eastern economies, therefore it is questionable whether those net budget inflows are really even compensating for it all. Hungary as well as its former communist peers have been lagging behind other developing nations around the world when it comes to economic growth. I believe EU membership with its downsides has been in part responsible, therefore your “begging bowl” comment is really just a reflection of your hostilities, not a reflection of facts. None of these countries are begging for anything! Those net EU budget benefits might not even make up for all the downsides of membership when added up.

  12. Avatar StrandedofSopron says:

    If the Brexiters in the UK had considered the possibility that they might actually win the vote and done any kind of short-term road map how it could be achieved as painlessly as possible, then the UK would not be in the state it is at minute. The Devils in Brussels, for example, didn’t create the Irish border which is a main stumbling block.

    However, unlike the Fidesz cowards, the Brexiters had, at least the
    courage of their convictions….

    And for your information Fidesz is not a synonym for Hungary or Hungarians. Detesting Orban and his criminals’ attitude to the organisation which keeps their corrupt mafia-state afloat does not equate to being “mean-spirited” about Hungary/ Hungarians.

    From memory, you don’t actually live in Hungary do you?

    • Well, perhaps if Hungary was the world’s fifth-largest economy, not a tiny country that would be crushed economically by a vicious EU, perhaps it would see things differently as well. And Hungary does have courage of its convictions. It is standing up for its interests and its beliefs within the EU. It never expressed the desire to leave the EU. It is you who for some reason holds to the belief that because it is a net beneficiary of the EU budget, it ought to just shut up and accept all and any garbage from the rest of the EU, like colonist quotas for instance, or get out. For some reason you do not seem to believe that Hungary is an equal member of the EU, but more like a vassal state, which should not dare to speak up.

      Also, it is those who currently oppose Orban who are failing to make the distinction between opposing him and attacking Hungary.

      As for where I live, word around here is that I live on a “Fidesz troll farm”.

  13. Avatar StrandedinSopron says:

    “It never expressed the desire to leave the EU. It is you who for some reason holds to the belief that because it is a net beneficiary of the EU budget, it ought to just shut up and accept all and any garbage from the rest of the EU”

    No. You join a club you abide by the rules of that club, simple.

    • Hungary is abiding by the rules of the club. Migrant quotas were never part of the rules, neither a path of ethno-cultural suicide. These are new “innovations”, and Hungary has every right to oppose it.

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