Polish journalist accuses Hungarian authorities of whitewashing Röszke

January 11, 2016

Jacek Tacik being treated by Hungarian authorities for head injuries sustained at Röszke. Photo: Warren Richardson
Jacek Tacik being treated by Hungarian authorities for head injuries sustained at Röszke. Photo: Warren Richardson

On December 29th, 2015 Polish journalist Jacek Tacik, one of several foreign journalists beaten and arrested by Hungarian authorities at Röszke on September 16th, posted the following open letter to the Hungarian police:

Dear Hungarian police,

I just received a letter from you letting me know that you have discontinued the proceedings and the investigation on my case. It has already been three months since we met at the border in Horgos in Serbia. I was hit on the head, handcuffed and finally taken to the police station in Szeged, Hungary. You accused me of attacking one of your officers and crossing the border illegally. Now you are writing that none of it happened and that I entered your country “accidentally.”

On 16th September at the Horgos-Röszke border you clashed with migrants trying to get in to Hungary. You acted violently with no reason, beating men as well as women and children. What’s more you attacked foreign corespondents covering the story.

I have an impression that you have no idea or you do not want to know what really happened.

1. One of you was provoked by a migrant and tried to catch him but did not manage. Another officer followed the first one. After him another and another. Eventually all of you ran towards them (we have it filmed). It seemed chaotic and not coordinated. Suddenly some of you used batons against journalists.

2. I had a microphone in my left hand. My cameraman was right next to me. You knew that we were from a TV station but you ignored it and hit me.

3. I was bleeding and shocked. You can see me in the picture taken by Warren Richardson. Do you remember him? He is the Australian photographer who was beaten by some of you and arrested with me and another journalist from Slovakia.

4. Your colleagues took care of me. I showed them my passport and press card and explained what had happened. They seemed quite emphatic. I believed they would help me go back to the Serbian side of the border and find my cameraman but instead I was handcuffed and forced to go to Hungary.

5. I was accused of hitting a Hungarian officer.

6. I spent a couple of hours in a hospital in Szeged. Did you have to send three armed officers to keep watch on me?

7. At the police station in Szeged I could see the way you treated refugees. You humiliated them. I remember an old man, without shoes, handcuffed, very tired, standing in a crowded room and having his bag controlled. Why did all of us have to watch his underwear and private belongings and listen to his interrogation?

8. You did not let me contact the Polish embassy. The Consul General of Poland, who was eventually informed about my situation, was forced to wait over two hours before he could speak with your colleagues. It has never happened before.

9. Despite the fact that one of your officers said I was detained in Hungary but not in Europe, I have to stress that Hungary is a member of the European Union since 2004 and due to that is still obliged to respect European laws and etiquette.

10. I was imprisoned for several hours. You forgot to take my phone away. I managed to contact my company and write about my situation on Twitter.

11. My interrogation lasted over two hours. You were obliged by the law to send me a copy of it but you didn’t. Now you are writing in your letter that I said I crossed the Hungarian border “accidentally.” It is not true. I did not say that. What’s more I was forced by your people to enter Hungary.

I want to believe that your letter is a lack of knowledge, not malice and an attempt to escape responsibility for the unlawful action.

Your sincerely

Jacek Tacik