NGO call for boycott of Hungarian vote on migrants

Budapest (AFP) - Human rights campaigners on Wednesday urged voters in Hungary to boycott what they termed an "inhumane" referendum on migrant relocation under an EU quota plan.

The appeal was made by 22 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the Helsinki Committees for Human Rights group.

"We have decided to campaign for the referendum to be rendered invalid (as) it does not allow promotion of our common values, has no sense and is inhumane," said a statement by the NGO collective.

Some eight million Hungarians are due to vote on October 2 on whether they support the EU quota plan -- which would oblige Hungary to take in a share of migrants without requiring parliamentary approval.

Several opposition parties have also voiced support for a boycott of the poll as Brussels seeks to resettle refugees among members of the bloc.

The scheme is designed to ease pressure on Greece and Italy, the main entry points into the bloc for migrants fleeing the Syrian civil war and has been approved by a majority of EU member states.

But Hungary and its right-wing Prime Minister and fierce Brussels critic Viktor Orban has led opposition to a mandatory scheme he views as a bid to "redraw Europe's cultural and religious identity" and an attack on national sovereignty.

Hungary built fences on its southern borders last year to stop the migrant flow after some 400,000 people transited the country while Orban has refused to take a single migrant under the plan.

Orban's government has plastered lampposts and billboards nationwide with posters linking immigration -- which Orban calls "poison" -- with terrorism and crime.

"Did You Know? Brussels wants to settle a city-sized number of illegal migrants in Hungary," reads one.

Polls suggest the anti vote will win out while the Zavecz polling institute suggests turnout will top 50 percent, the threshold for the result to be valid.

Opposition groups have denounced a "campaign of fear" they say the government is whipping up against migrants.