On April 27 2015 approximately 20 people gathered and marched to protest against recent xenophobic violence in South Africa. The Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organization (Mahatma Gandhi Emberi Jogi Egyesület) protesters walked from Budapest's Blaha Lujza square in Pest to the South African embassy in the hills of Buda to protest the violent attacks on migrant workers in South Africa.
While the marchers were few in number they were strong in spirit, and mostly consisting of migrants from Africa who have made Hungary their new home. These citizens and residents of Hungary expressed their solidarity with the victims of the recent attacks by handing in a petition to the South African Ambassador to Hungary, demanding better protection of migrants. The petition stated, among other complaints, that the South African 'government only 'belatedly took some actions to quell this problem.'
This is not the first time this organization has addressed human rights issues abroad. Last summer they organized a march from Szabadsag square to the Nigerian embassy, connecting to the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign (see the MigSzol video below) reacting to the Boko Haram kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls.
Different countries, different political reactions and agendas
It is interesting that while both South Africa and Hungary face the problem of xenophobic threats and attacks, each government has reacted in different ways.
While in South Africa the government is mostly reacting to a bad situation where citizens are scapegoating foreigners because of a poor economy, in Hungary the government is inciting xenophobia and racism to distract people from its own failure to solve social problems.
'We appreciate the contribution of foreign nationals in South Africa. They contribute to our economic development by investing in the economy, bringing critical skills and through adding to the diversity that we pride ourselves in.'
We have already seen the racist and xenophobic graffiti that has spread in Budapest against the Kosovar migrants that came through Hungary earlier this year [link] - including graffiti demanding that they be killed.
We can only imagine what could happen during the Fidesz government's 'National Consultation' when it is asking in postal mails Hungarian citizens loaded and biased questions such as:
3. According to some, immigration, which is badly handled by Brussels, is connected with the expansion of terrorism, Do you agree with this opinion?
12. Do you agree with the Hungarian Government that instead of supporting immigrants, that support of Hungarian families and future babies is needed?