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HUNGARY

A Hungarian mayor makes a show of "migrant-hunting"

The mayor of Ásotthalom and his militiamen. Screen capture from a video made by the mayor.
The mayor of Ásotthalom and his militiamen. Screen capture from a video made by the mayor.
Text by: Maëva Poulet
3 min

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In the small Hungarian town of Ásotthalom, migrants are regularly being photographed on their knees, hands on their heads, displayed like hunting trophies, with armed militiamen standing by. The mayor of the town is behind the hate-filled hunt for undocumented migrants. According to our Observer, this is just another example of the xenophobic, law-and-order policies in Hungary.

Beneath a photo published in June on the Facebook page of Toroczkai Laszlo, the mayor of Ásotthalom, a village of 5,000 on the Serbo-Hungarian border, the caption reads, "Violent invaders 0 – Citizen militia 1." The image shows three migrant men lying face-down on the ground, their hands bound behind their backs. In another photo, shared more than 300 times, a thickset man in camouflage poses in front of five young men, captured while illegally crossing the border.

Migrants on the ground, hands bound behind their backs. Photo published by the mayor on his Facebook page.

Despite a recent report by Human Rights Watch denouncing the violent atacks on migrants by police and militia in Hungary, Laszlo hasn't hesitated in broadcasting his guards' "exploits."

A rising star of the Hungarian far-right – he is vice-president of Jobbik, an openly xenophobic nationalist party –  last summer he launched an armed civilian patrol whose mission is to "capture" migrants near his village... This does not seem to bother local citizens, who are used to living behind barb wire since the Hungarian authorities decided in 2015 to erect a fence along the entire 175-kilometre border between Hungary and Serbia.

A guard poses with migrants. Photo published on Laszlo's Facebook page. Blurred by France 24.

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