Author Topic: Czech police write numbers on arms of migrants 'like concentration camp prisoner  (Read 2127 times)

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"Czech police write numbers on arms of migrants 'like concentration camp prisoners"

Fury as Czech police write numbers on arms of migrants 'like concentration camp prisoners' as thousands of refugees are locked in stand-off with police at Budapest station

Czech police used markers to write numbers on the hands of 214 refugees detained on trains at a border crossing
Budapest station was evacuated yesterday morning as thousands of migrants tried to reach Vienna and Munich
Protests were staged and about 100 police officers wearing helmets and wielding batons guarded the station
Hungarian government spokesman said the system 'has completely failed' and 'is collapsing in front of our eyes'

PUBLISHED: 00:12 GMT, 2 September 2015 | UPDATED: 00:24 GMT, 3 September 2015

Human rights activists and lawyers have condemned police in the Czech Republic for writing numbers on the arms of migrants after detaining them.
Officers used pens to mark 214 refugees, mostly Syrians, who were detained on a train yesterday at a border crossing from Austria and Hungary.
The measure has provoked anger because it recalls Nazi Germany's practice of writing numbers on concentration camp prisoners.
The controversy came as thousands of desperate migrants staged angry protests outside Budapest’s main international railway station today after Hungarian authorities refused to let them board trains bound for Western Europe.

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Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of MigrationWatch, which campaigns for managed migration, told MailOnline: 'It is simply wrong and foolish.
'They are treating them in a way that could look like they are branding them or doing what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany.
'I can understand why people will be repulsed by this type of action. No one is suggesting they won't be treated well, but the sooner they stop this the better all around.'
Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted a picture of an officer marking a migrant child and later wrote: 'What never stops amazing me are people who look at the Holocaust and think that it only holds lessons for Germans & Jews.'

Zuzana Candigliota, a lawyer with the Czech Human Rights League, added: 'There is no law allowing the police to mark people like this.'
Czech interior ministry spokeswoman Lucie Novakova said the move was introduced because of the increasing number of children among the refugees.
'Our goal is to prevent the children from getting lost,' she added.
The measure was used with large groups of refugees to keep record of family members, according to Katerina Rendlova, spokeswoman for a unit of the Czech police dealing with foreigners.
'We also write the code of the train they have arrived on so that we know which country we should return them to within the readmission system.'
Unlike some other EU member states, Czech authorities maintain that migrants who enter the country without first having made an asylum request should be returned to the state from which they arrived, in line with the EU's Dublin Provision.

The overwhelming majority of Czechs oppose hosting refugees, according to an August survey by local polling agency Focus in which 93 percent of respondents said they should be returned to their country of origin.
Rendlova said the refugees 'used to get the numbers on a piece of paper but they kept throwing them away'.
'They have agreed with the marking – they don't have a problem with this, they know it's in their interest.' 
But rights activists and lawyers cite legal and ethical concerns.
'I guess they agree because they believe the police officer has the right to do this,' said Candigliota.
Prague lawyer Marek Dufek added: 'I know it's difficult because the refugees have no documents.'

But he questioned whether they had agreed to the markings: 'Do they have a signed approval form in their native tongue?'
Meanwhile, around 3,000 migrants are currently waiting at Keleti station in the Hungarian capital, many camping outside the main entrance guarded by police, who said citizen patrols were assisting them in keeping order.
Outside the station, young Syrian children were wrapped in blankets and held in the air as if they were dead to remind Hungarian authorities of the bloody warzones hundreds of those now stranded in Budapest had risked their lives to flee in recent weeks.
All trains out of Keleti station remain cancelled after it was overwhelmed with desperate migrants trying to reach western Europe yesterday. Loud chants of 'freedom, freedom' filled the streets outside the station, as several hundred migrants engaged in tense stand-offs with police. 

Volunteer groups accustomed to providing food, clothing and medical assistance to a few hundred migrants at a time struggled with the large number of people staying in every corner of the station’s sunken plaza.
More than 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia. Many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries.
Hungary’s police said in a statement they intend to reinforce their positions outside the terminal as the volume of migrants arriving from Serbia continues to grow by the hour.
They said officers working jointly with colleagues from Austria, Germany and Slovakia also were searching for migrants travelling illegally on other Hungarian trains and described the security push as compatible with the EU’s policy of passport-free travel.
Efforts to control, curtail and protect migrants continued unabated elsewhere across Europe. French authorities said services on the cross-Channel Eurostar trains were returning to normal after serious overnight disruptions triggered by reports of migrants running on the tracks and trying to climb on top of trains.
Passengers aboard one Paris-to-London train said their service was suspended because migrants trying to climb aboard the train damaged fire safety equipment.
In tweets, passengers also described seeing migrants running along the roofs of another train near the migrant-besieged French port of Calais.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is scheduled to meet EU chiefs on Thursday to discuss his country’s handling of its unprecedented flow this year of more than 150,000 migrants, chiefly from Syria and other conflict zones. While Germany said it expects to receive 800,000 migrants this year, quadruple last year’s figure, many EU members face criticism for failing to commit to housing more asylum seekers.
In non-EU member Iceland, a populist movement is challenging the government’s pledge to host just 50 Syrians.
The newly launched Syria’s Calling pressure group said thousands of island residents had gone online over the past 48 hours to commit to opening their homes to a war refugee. Others called on Iceland to open a disused army base for migrant housing.
Naval vessels from several nations continued to patrol Mediterranean waters off the coast of Libya in hopes of preventing more mass drownings of migrants. A Norwegian vessel said it was carrying about 800 rescued migrants, including 11 pregnant women and more than 30 children, to Cagliari on Italy’s island of Sardinia.
Despite the crisis at Keleti station, Hungary's government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs complained that his country has been made the 'scapegoat' of Europe's migrant crisis, in an interview with BBC Newsnight.
'There's no time to try to find a scapegoat, which is why we reject that Hungary is being pointed out as a scapegoat in this whole story,' he said during the interview.
'What we are really hoping for, since the beginning of this year, is to have a completely renewed approach to migration and refugee system.
'The system that was designed years ago has completely failed, it's falling apart. It is not able to handle these numbers.'

Mr Kovacs protested that Hungary is only trying to comply with the law of the Schengen zone, which he said has 'very strict rules for movement within the free movement zone'.
Hungarian railway authorities yesterday said they would allow 'only those in possession of the appropriate travel documents and - if necessary - a visa' to board trains travelling to western Europe.
In a statement posted on their website, the Hungarian police said they would 'continue to carry out [their] duties in accordance with the Schengen rules on border control'.
But concerns have been raised that the harsh conditions will force vulnerable refugees into the hands of people-traffickers.
When they were asked yesterday what the country's policy on allowing to be to travel today, Kovacs admitted that they don't have any other choice but to stick to the EU's Schengen rules.
'They simply don't have the right to [board trains],' he continued.
'There are strict rules. Hungary's border with Serbia is not simply the two countries' border but also the Schengen border.'
The spokesman continued that with 'no protocols in place', the system is collapsing 'in front of our eyes'.
He revealed that the situation as it is being portrayed in the media is just one section of the real problem, and that the country is struggling to cope with the 156,000 people who have crossed its borders, many heading to Austria, Germany and Scandinavian countries.

Hungary has become a key stage in the route from the Middle East and Africa to western Europe, and is currently buckling under the weight of 3,000 people a day crossing through its green borders.
August alone has seen 50,000 people arrive in the country.
The spokesman called on all EU member states to follow Hungary's lead in protecting its borders.
'Step up in a very strict manner to keep these people out of the European borders up until their identities are established,' he demanded.
'Up until it has been established whether they are in real need of asylum.'
He added: 'If everybody was doing their homework and complying to the existing rules, everything would be completely different.' 
Hungarian authorities decided to evacuate and close the city's Eastern Railway Terminus when scuffles broke out between people storming their way onto carriages on Tuesday morning.

Thousands were allowed to board trains to Germany and Austria just the day before, leading to the highest number of migrants entering Austria in a single day this year, with police saying 3,650 arrived in Vienna by train on Monday.
But yet hundreds more arrived - after crawling under razorwire and making treacherous sea crossings - only to be told they were 24 hours too late.
Hungary has been taking an increasingly militant stance against migration at its borders, hastily constructing a razorwire fence along its border with Serbia, and warning that up to 3,500 soldiers could be sent to support border security.
We cannot give shelter to the economic migrants, we cannot bear that burden, so they will be returned where they come from.
Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto
The Hungarian government was heavily criticised on Monday when it allowed thousands to travel to northern Europe. Critics insisted the country had broken EU restrictions, which require migrants to apply for asylum in the first EU nation they enter.
France slammed the country's border fence as 'scandalous' while Austria accused Hungary of being 'sloppy' in applying the Dublin rules. The Hungarian government has summoned the ambassadors of both countries to explain the remarks.
Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said: 'We cannot give shelter to the economic migrants, we cannot bear that burden, so they will be returned where they come from.'
In complete contrast to the situation in Hungary, police in Munich said they had been 'overwhelmed' by donations of food, clothing, medicine and water, even appealing for the gifts to stop. 
The ongoing crisis in Budapest came just hours after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU's passport-free travel zone was under threat.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the migrant crisis is Europe's 'greatest challenge', during Tuesday's talks with the German Chancellor.

Britain was warned yesterday that a refusal to take in more refugees could do serious damage to Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to renegotiates the country's relationship with the European Union.
Stephan Mayer, spokesman for Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance, said Britain's insistence that it is 'out of the club' in sharing the refugee burden could harm Mr Cameron's ambitions to win back powers from Brussels. 
Germany has said it expects to accept 800,000 asylum seekers this year whereas Britain received 25,771 asylum applications in the year ending June 2015, according to the Home Office.
Meanwhile, migrants clambered through razorwire fences into Macedonia, risked their lives on rubber dinghies in the Mediterranean Sea, and one man even hid inside a red-hot car engine in a bid to get out of Morocco as the migrant crisis continued to spiral out of control.
A further 49 Syrian refugees were rescued by Turkish fishermen in the Aegean Sea, while Austrian police rescued 24 Afghans aged just 16 and 17, from a truck which was described as a 'prison cell on wheels'. 
About 100 police officers wearing helmets and wielding batons guarded the station as people booed and hissed outside. One man held up a sign that said, in German: 'Please let us go!'
The station reopened yesterday afternoon but only non-migrants were allowed in. Police were checking tickets, ID cards and relevant visas.
Fights broke out earlier in the morning among some of the migrants as they were blocked from getting on a train scheduled to leave for Vienna and Munich.

Several say they spent hundreds of euros on tickets after police told them they would be allowed free passage.
Hassan, a 47-year-old Syrian, said he and two friends had each bought tickets to Germany for a total of 375 euros.
'They took 125 euros for each ticket to Munich or Berlin, then they stopped and forced us from the station,' he said.
Marah, a 20-year-old woman from Aleppo, Syria, who travelled with her family, said they had bought six tickets for a RailJet train that was scheduled to leave for Vienna at 9am yesterday.
'They should find a solution,' she said. 'We are thousands here, where should we go?'
When asked why the station was closed, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Hungary was trying to enforce EU law, which requires anyone who wishes to travel within Europe to hold a valid passport and a Schengen visa.
Hungarian and Austrian authorities allowed trainloads of undocumented migrants to reach Germany on Monday. Czech police said they had detained 214 mostly Syrian migrants headed for Germany on overnight trains from Vienna and Budapest.
Austrian police, which has been on high alert for people-smugglers since 71 migrants were found dead in a lorry last week, said 24 young Afghans were rescued from a 'prison cell on wheels'.

The people, mostly aged around 16 or 17, were crammed inside a van like objects.
A police spokesman said they were 'crammed on top of each other into a very small space'. 
They added: 'The windows and side doors had been welded shut, a grill had been welded to the inside of the windows which were sprayed in black paint. A locking bolt had also been attached to the doors on the outside. It was like a prison cell on wheels.'   
Austrian police have stepped up checks on trucks and vans after the dead bodies of 71 migrants were found in the back of an abandoned truck on an Austrian motorway last Thursday.
Many of the 50,000 migrants who entered Hungary in August alone hope to travel onwards to countries in western Europe like Germany and Sweden, which invariably means transiting through Austria.
The Romanian driver in the latest incident fled after police pulled over the vehicle in Vienna. He was later apprehended with help of a police dog called Iceman. The 24 Afghans needed no medical treatment.
A further 49 Syrian migrants were rescued by Turkish fisherman last night, after they found themselves adrift in the Aegean Sea.
The desperate men, women and children were trying to make the hazardous crossing to reach Greece, but were so exhausted most needed help to cross from their dilapidated boat to the rescue boat.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will discuss the migration crisis with EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, the government's website quoted his press chief Bertalan Havasi as saying yesterday.
Orban will meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council Chairman Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, as well as Joseph Daul, the chairman of the European People's Party.
Havasi added that leaders of the Visegrad Four countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - will hold an extraordinary summit in Prague on Friday.
Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters yesterday that all migrants that come to the country will be registered and economic migrants will be sent back to the state from which they entered.
He also said Hungary, which has been struggling with a large influx of migrants in recent months, did not support the quota system for distribution, saying such a system only encourages migrants and smugglers.
'We plan to register all migrants regardless of the fact that we are not the first member state they enter. We will register everyone who submits the request for asylum and carry out the procedure,' Szijjarto said.
'If the decision is positive the refugee can stay, but if it is not positive we cannot give shelter to the economic migrants, we cannot bear that burden, so they will be returned where they come from.'

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Britain should follow Austria's lead in tightening up checks at borders to prevent illegal immigrants entering the country.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'The EU have sent a message that anybody who comes across the Mediterranean or comes through Turkey, once they have set foot in an EU country they will be accepted.
'That's sent a message to hundreds of thousands of people that they can come.'
'Genuine' refugees had historically tended to be members of ethnic or religious groups fleeing for their lives, said Mr Farage.
But he added: 'The problem we have now is if you look at the definition of the EU's asylum policy, it includes anybody who comes from a war-torn country and it even includes people leaving extreme poverty.
'The problem we've got is potentially we've opened the door to an exodus of biblical proportions, meaning millions and millions of people. We've lost sight of what is a genuine refugee. How many millions does Europe want to take? That really is the question.'
Britain should offer refugee status to 'a few thousand people' from Syria but cannot provide an open door to migrants, he said.
'I think we are going to have to start doing what the Austrians did yesterday,' Mr Farage added. 'The Austrians stopped lorries and stopped cars and checked and found 200 people who were smuggled trying to come into their country.
'We are going to have to accept that crossing borders is going to get more difficult if we are serious about dealing with illegal immigration.'

A total of 3,650 migrants reached Vienna by train on Monday, this year's biggest daily number, Austrian police said.
'Allowing them to simply board in Budapest... and watching as they are taken to the neighbour (Austria) - that's not politics,' Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann said.
Many of the migrants slept at Vienna's Westbahnhof station, hoping to continue their journey on to Germany, which last week eased asylum restrictions for Syrian refugees.
Austrian authorities said they were overwhelmed and police admitted they did not have the manpower to carry out effective controls, which would normally include sending migrants without proper travel documents back to Hungary.
Trouble at the train stations was matched by delays on the highways as Austrian authorities re-imposed border controls at main crossings from Hungary. 
On Monday, Mrs Merkel said if Europe was not able to agree on how to share out the responsibility for refugees, the Schengen area of 26 European countries that have removed border checks between each other would be under threat.


Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has said he will reject any EU quotas for redistributing immigrants, adding 'we will wake up one day and have 100,000 people from the Arab world'.
Slovakia and the Czech Republic hope to forge a common position with Hungary and Poland on Europe's migrant crisis that would reject any EU quotas, the two countries' leaders said on Monday.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has invited his counterparts in the so-called Visegrad 4 group to discuss the crisis in Prague on Friday, a spokesman said.
The outcome is likely to be a hardline stance on the issue that the EU's central European states will take to an extraordinary meeting of EU interior ministers on September 14.
Hungary's status as an eastern outpost of Europe's passport-free Schengen area has made it a transit route for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and beyond heading for western Europe via the Balkans.
The central Europeans have blocked proposals from Brussels that envisage EU member states accepting binding quotas to share out asylum-seekers crossing the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece. Since then, voluntary offers by member states to take in immigrants have fallen short of the needed numbers.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has called their stance 'scandalous'. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the future of Schengen would be in question if Europe cannot agree on redistributing refugees.
'We strongly reject any quotas ... If a mechanism for automatic redistribution of migrants is adopted, then we will wake up one day and have 100,000 people from the Arab world and that is a problem I would not like Slovakia to have,' Fico told a news conference shown live on television.
'We are prepared to do what is needed and what is within our possibilities, for people who really need help, separate them from economic migrants,' he added.
Czech President Milos Zeman said the country should reject quotas and increase its border protection, given the EU was unable to do so.
'The Czech Republic should take care of its borders on its own, it should expel illegal migrants ... even using the army, should it be needed,' Zeman said.
Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU's passport-free travel zone is under threat
Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU's passport-free travel zone is under threat
The Schengen Agreement was signed by Belgium, France, German, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in June 1985, and created a passport-free travel zone.
All 26 European countries that are part of the area have removed checkpoints between each other, creating a single external border.
The present-day zone covers all the EU member states – except the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia – as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which are all outside the EU.
It is named after the town in Luxembourg where it was signed.
She became the latest leader to raise concerns that hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece are able to travel freely to other areas – such as Calais – because there are no borders.
She said: 'If we don't succeed in fairly distributing refugees then of course the Schengen question will be on the agenda for many.'
Under the rules people are able to travel freely between most of the countries on mainland Europe without having their passports checked.
But it means refugees entering Europe in Italy and Greece are travelling north and west before they claim asylum instead of making their applications in the first EU country they enter, as they are supposed to.
Germany has become a top destination for those fleeing Syria after it last week agreed to waive the so-called Dublin regulations that mean people can claim only in the first country they get to.
It has said it expects roughly 800,000 people to seek asylum there this year, nearly four times as many as last year and far more than any other EU country.
The European Commission has said the Schengen Agreement is 'non-negotiable'. A spokesman last night added: 'Schengen is not the problem.' 
The EU executive is set to outline new plans next week to distribute refugees across European states, as well as the speed up the deportation of unwanted migrants.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration commissioner, made the announcement yesterday, saying that the new scheme could involve detaining those rejected until they return home.
European governments are straining to balance obligations to provide refuge with hostility among the public to mass immigration.
The Commission will put new proposals to interior ministers at an emergency meeting on September 14.
The emergency meeting will come five days after Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to outline plans to the European Parliament during his annual state of the Union address on Wednesday.

The EU has ramped up its plans in response to a massive surge in arrivals over the summer, while member states argue over how to spread the load.
Avramopoulos added that his discussions with governments gave him hope they would end objections to a distribution system for asylum-seekers that Juncker put forward in May and will next week present as a permanent EU mechanism.
'The majority of countries…want to contribute,' he said.
'Some countries that were a bit reluctant…have changed their mind because now they realise that this problem is not the problem of other countries but theirs as well.'
Iceland is considering allowing more people escaping the conflict in Syria to seek refuge in the country, after four per cent of the population joined a Facebook page calling for it. 
Around 12,000 people from a population of little over 300,000 joined the social network page.

The government had earlier announced plans to take in 50 refugees from the Syrian conflict. That small number prompted Icelanders to sign up to the page which aimed to show the government there was public will to do more.
Prime Minister Sigmund David Gunnlaugsson now says a special council comprised of several ministers will map Iceland's resources to see how many refugees could be taken and said the government now had no fixed number.
Yesterday, the Italian Navy rescued 118 people from a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.
And in Greece on Monday, police fired a stun grenade at migrants protesting on the border with Macedonia and there were warnings that the tiny holiday island of Lesbos was being 'overwhelmed' by more than 13,000 migrants and refugees. 
In Greece, the humanitarian relief organisation the International Rescue Committee has warned of the intense strain on the island of Lesbos.
On Saturday alone, 4,000 refugees and migrants arrived from the nearby coast of Turkey and there were further arrivals on Sunday and Monday.

Two ships carrying more than 4,200 migrants from an eastern Greek island to the port of Piraeus arrived late last night, the Greek coastguard said.
Greece has seen a spike in the number of refugees and migrants arriving on the islands by rubber dinghies via nearby Turkey this summer, with aid agencies estimating about 2,000 crossing over daily last month.
After a hiatus of a few days last week, Greek authorities on Saturday resumed carrying the refugees - mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - to the mainland by ship from the islands of Kos, Lesbos, Samos, Symi and Agathonissi.
Many then carry on their journeys across mainland Europe.

You have to help us,' said 27-year-old Isham, a Syrian teacher who left his wife and two children behind in Turkey.
'We are human,' he said, appealing to governments not to block the refugees' attempts to travel through Europe in search of a better life.
A coastguard official said the ship, the Tera Jet, carrying 1,749 migrants from Lesbos docked in Piraeus adding that another ship with 2,459 migrants was expected to arrive from the island in the early hours of this morning.
An average of 1,700 migrants crossed into Greece daily in July, with the number topping 2,000 a day in August.
Cash-strapped Greece has said it lacked the infrastructure to cope with influx.
President Prokopis Pavlopoulos told French counterpart Francois Hollande by telephone that migration should be addressed at a top European level, according to a statement by Pavlopoulos' office.
Greece's caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou will chair a ministerial meeting on migration today. Thanou took over last week after former Greek premier Alexis Tsipras, who heads the leftist Syriza party, resigned last month to pave the way for a snap election on Sept. 20.

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