Hungary defends anti-immigration stance at UN rights body

A man taking part in a march against Prime Minister Viktor Orban holds a holds a banner that reads "Where are you migrating" on the background of the European Union flag, in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, March 15, 2018.(AP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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Hungary defends anti-immigration stance at UN rights body

GENEVA: Hungary defended its anti-immigration stance on Monday at the United Nations, saying it was determined to maintain a homogeneous, Christian society.
The UN Human Rights Committee, composed of independent experts, began a two-day review of Hungary’s record in upholding civil and political rights, less than three weeks before a parliamentary election.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a rally last Thursday that voters must fight “external forces and international powers” who wanted to foist mass immigration on their country.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the panel: “First and foremost, it is a firm conviction of the government that the Hungarian people have the right to live a life in security, without fear of terrorist atrocities.”
In 2015, Hungary had a “sad experience” when some 400,000 migrants passed through on their way to western Europe, “ignoring all rules,” he said.
Hungary responded with a border fence and rejection of European Union proposals to settle migrants in member states under a quota system. Most of the migrants were Muslims fleeing conflict in the Middle East.
“The Hungarian government has not admitted illegal migrants and will not admit them in future,” Szijjarto said.
“We Hungarians have lived the past 1,000 years in a Christian society, in an integrated, homogenous society; that is what we consider invaluable, and we continue to insist on this.”
He said non-governmental organizations that lobby for more tolerance of immigration were not elected and did not represent the Hungarian people.


Myanmar’s Hindu refugees mark festival in Bangladesh camp

Updated 3 min 34 sec ago
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Myanmar’s Hindu refugees mark festival in Bangladesh camp

  • The Hindus are camping only a kilometer away from Kutupalong near Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been living
  • The Hindu refugees say that their community was attacked in August 2017 in northern Rakhine state by Rohingya militants
KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh: Hindu refugees from Myanmar living in a camp in Bangladesh have been celebrating the festival of Durga Puja for the first time since fleeing violence in northern Rakhine state last year.
More than 500 Hindus escaped their homes last August along with over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims as Myanmar’s army launched a brutal crackdown that the UN says amounted to “ethnic cleansing.”
Hindu community leader Jibon Sharma told AFP that the terrifying circumstances of their escape prevented them from celebrating the annual festival last year.
But now local authorities in southeastern Bangladesh and the country’s Hindu minority have helped them, including with materials to build the pavilions housing displays of the many-armed goddess Durga.
“When we were in Myanmar we used to worship regularly. But it’s different here. Bangladeshis helped us beyond imagination with money and clothes,” Sharma told AFP.
“We are very grateful to them.”
The Hindu refugees say that their community was attacked in August 2017 in northern Rakhine state by Rohingya militants, and relations with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh remain tense.
The Hindus are camping only a kilometer or two (a mile) around away from the world’s largest refugee camp — Kutupalong near Cox’s Bazar — where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been living.
“We have full-time security posted at this camp. We are well aware of the tension between them,” said police official Jahangir Alam.
The festival includes 10 days of music and cultural performances, as well as clothes being gifted to cheering children.
“I forgot when was the last time we had such a great Puja (prayer ritual). I am seeing my kids’ happy faces... I am very happy,” Suma Paul, a Hindu refugee, said as she cried happy tears.