Migrants in stand-off after being 'tricked' into taking train to processing centre
Published 04/09/2015 | 02:30
Up to 1,000 migrants in Hungary staged a dramatic protest aboard a train they believed was bound for western Europe after authorities ordered them to disembark at a holding camp.
Extraordinary scenes ensued as the migrants resisted attempts by police to remove them from the train in Bicske, around 30km west of Budapest.
One Syrian man threw himself on to the railway tracks with his wife and child in a desperate attempt to avoid detention, while others locked themselves in their carriages.
The standoff took place as Viktor Orban, the hardline Hungarian prime minister, said he would not take part in EU quotas for migrants and would push ahead with building a barbed wire fence on Hungary's border with Serbia to keep out migrants.
The Hungarian army would be deployed to defend the border, he said.
Mr Orban described the EU's policy of asylum quotas as "madness" that would be interpreted as an "invitation" and result in "tens of millions" of people making the dangerous journey to Europe. "Quotas will increase the number of victims," he warned.
Mr Orban also described the migrant crisis as "German problem", not a European one. "Nobody wants to stay in Hungary, neither in Slovakia, nor Poland, nor Estonia. All want to go to Germany. Our job is just to register them," he said. Unless the eastern border is secured, the Schengen free movement system would collapse, he warned.
The standoff in Hungary began in Budapest yesterday morning after police abandoned a two-day blockade of the main terminal, allowing migrants camped on the concourse outside to rush inside in the hope of catching a train to western Europe.
Hundreds of migrants managed to force their way on to a train headed for Sopron, on the Austrian border. But police stopped the train at Bicske and attempted to take the migrants towards buses bound for the nearby migrant holding centre.
As the impasse developed, negotiators surrounded by riot police tried to convince the passengers to abandon their sit-in, speaking in both English and Arabic. Many of the migrants said they had already been registered through a process in which the Hungarian police took their fingerprints to be shared with other EU countries via a shared database.
"We will die, here or we will go," said Waqas, a 23-year-old from Pakistan on the platform in Bicske, claiming that he had already been in four of Hungary's detention camps where asylum requests are processed.
"The authorities lie to everybody, they lie to us every day. If you gave your fingerprint and did the procedure, then why don't they let us go?"
Wahir, from Afghanistan, said he had also been through a camp in Hungary and asked the country's authorities: "We are leaving your country. Why do you want to catch us again and take us back to a camp? They're killing people like this."
Individuals acting as spokesmen for the migrants said they wanted to continue their journey towards the Austrian border as others chanted "Germany, Germany" in the background. Finally, with the talks producing no result, bottles of water were deposited on the platform for the passengers. The standoff was ongoing last night.
For one Iraqi man at Bicske train station, remaining at a Hungarian migrant camp was not an option.
The man, from Baghdad, stepped forward to the police line to show his papers, pointing out that he had already been in a Hungarian camp and made his claim to asylum.
He was carrying a baby girl, and said his daughter was sick.
But the man grew angry when told he had to go to hospital with the girl, saying his wife and other children were on the train. "Kill me, or take me back to Serbia, but not to the camp," he shouted.