Hungarian authorities physically assault the homeless in Budapest

In Hungary, it’s not actually the police that are tasked with brutality, but rather private security firms hired by local governments or national institutes and ministries. I witnessed this first hand in 2016 (and I reported on this phenomenon in HFP at the time). This week we learned that the practice of outsourcing police brutality to the private sector is continuing in Hungary. According to an investigative report on the news site, agents of a private security firm hired by the Fidesz-led municipal government of Csepel, a suburb of Budapest, are engaged in the practice of physically assaulting homeless people. Zoltán leads the three-person brigade in Csepel against the homeless and speaking to, he said:

“Once I wanted to be a Franciscan monk, I wanted to sacrifice my whole life. You may not see it, but I believe in love and solidarity. And in the past, I felt the same way about the homeless as you do, or as the liberals do. I pitied them and wanted to help them. And today? I would run them all through a grinder.”

Zoltán and his small team are following orders. They were told that their task is to “pester” the homeless. In Hungarian, the specific word is “vegzálás.”

When the reporter asked Zoltán whether he considered the homeless around the HÉV (suburban rail) station in Csepel to be humans too, he responded:

“These ones? They are zombies. Do you know who are humans in my mind? People who can scrape themselves out of their own shit.”

When used the exact same word (pester) that Zoltán and his team used to describe their task, they accused the reporter of writing a “liberal article.”

Security hired by Csepel. Photo: / János Marjai.

According to a woman called Eszter interviewed by the reporter, she was asked to stop sitting in the area near the suburban railway station, as she and her partner, László, had been there for a period of time. When Eszter told the security guard that she had a right to be there, the man came up close to her face and threateningly told her to leave. László also noted that an elderly man he knew had been kicked in the face by one of these guards and that there were multiple witnesses to this violence. The victim had to get multiple stitches after the incident.

When the reporter asked one of the guards if he understands that people are scared of him, he responded:

“They should be scared! That is the goal. You don’t need to be soft with them…”

When asked about the allegations of physical assault against the homeless, Zoltán does not deny that this may have taken place. He tries to explain it as self-defense or as a preemptive reaction out of fear that the homeless person may become violent or might have a weapon.

“How do you know what he may take out of his pocket? This is a circle of criminals. That is how you have to see them…”

Dehumanization is a quintessential characteristic of the Orbán regime. Outsourcing violence to private companies contracted by the state is another. Sándor Rónai, spokesperson for the Democratic Coalition, confirmed that his party filed a police report after reading’s piece about systematic assault against the homeless. The chances of a police investigation resulting in any consequences for those committing violence on behalf of the state are nil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *