Keleti is silent. The only mark left from the migration crisis is a governmental poster on a bus stop, stating that “the nation has decided this country has to be protected”. Are we now protected, or are the terrorists now here - or wait, was it only their cellphones that are left? Against what are we protected, again, and why do we continue building those fences? Where are all the migrants? Is the migration crisis over?
Budapest seems peaceful and silent after the burning hot crisis that was in front of our eyes during the whole summer. It is a tempting idea to think that it’s over. We are reading about heroic volunteers all over Europe, about amazing people starting new lives in Germany, even the child-kicking racist news reporter is not a newsreporter any more. Couldn’t we just call it a day and get on with our lives as it were, and disregard the fence the fence that “protects” us?
Oh no, that’s not a good idea.
Migration will not stop, the least because of some government closing its eyes and borders. Refugees are still coming. Actually, more people than ever in 2015 are crossing the borders of Europe these days. The crisis has merely vanished from our eyes. The Hungarian government has made it invisible to the everyday experience in the capital - and because of that, neither does it bother the mainstream media. They wish to communicate to the public that the Fidesz government has “solved” the issue with the fence, when in fact the crisis has only moved some hundreds of kilometers south and west, and is far from being solved.
It is false to think that the crisis has ended just because it’s not visible in the streets in front of our houses, just like criminalizing homelessness doesn’t mean there are no homeless people and people living in unstable housing.
Refugees who arrive to Hungary by crossing the fence are now imprisoned, and will either be jailed or expelled from the country, and are in addition treated with a ban to enter the Schengen zone. Nobody can practically enter Hungary from Serbia, Croatia or Slovenia to seek asylum. It’s only symbolic that the country’s biggest reception facility in Debrecen is closed after decades of functioning on Oct 20th - yet another petty attempt of a signal that this country is empty of refugees. It is dangerous to get used to the idea that there are no asylum seekers in Hungary, though, or that the asylum crisis will resolve itself by building fences. In the midst of all of this, what can we do?
Many things. First and foremost, don’t forget that this is a political struggle which is far from over. Read about the topic, share real news and talk with your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. Speak up on Twitter, and discuss the matter over lunch breaks with your colleagues, especially if you have differences in opinion. Write an email to the politicians at all levels: municipalities, MPs and MEPs you voted for and demand change, and share it in Facebook. Sign petitions, and ask your friends to do the same. Interrupt politicians in their dinners in fancy restaurants, and ask them uncomfortable questions about the migration crisis (that’s not nice, true. It’s a lot less nice for people at the borders, though). Make them unable to ignore the responsibility and the urgency of the situation. Remember that this is a part of a larger struggle against the war on poverty that the Fidesz government is facing, and support the cause of other civil society organizations that fight racism and marginalization. Volunteer, if you have any spare time.
You can also make a flash mob in front of a governmental institution, or organize a protest. Remember that there are still migrants and refugees in Hungary. If you rent your apartment to migrant or a refugee, or employ a refugee, you may have prevented a person emigrating from Hungary because of homelessness. You can gather a group of friends and start giving free Hungarian lessons to people who want to learn the language. The most important part is that you don’t remain silent now, at the time when political decisions are made about the future of migration. That decides how this era will be remembered in history books.
We, every citizen who can read and write, have the moral responsibility to act, since if we remain silent, we will stand on the side of the ruling power. We have to take a political stand now to fight for a just and respectful Europe and Hungary. That happens with courage to speak out and with support of the people around you. All of us have to be brave and act now. All of us can.