Solidarity with the Roma

5 09 2010

Massive protests have taken place across Europe against the French government’s deportation of Roma.

Al Jazeera:

Thousands of people have attended demonstrations in Paris and other French cities to protest against tough new security measures introduced by the government which they say are being used to target the country’s Roma community.

France began clearing large numbers of illegal Roma camps in July, after Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, announced a series of measures to fight crime.

Police said about 12,000 people had demonstrated in the French capital but organisers put the total nearer to 50,000.

Human rights, labour unions and leftist political parties accuse Sarkozy of stigmatising minorities and seeking political gain with the security crackdown.

They also say he is violating French traditions of welcoming the oppressed, in a country that is one of the world’s leading providers of political asylum.


Thousands of people have attended rallies in Paris and 130 other French towns to protest at the government’s policy of deporting Roma people.

Police say turnout across France was slightly more than 77,000 while organisers put the figure nearer 100,000.

With polls suggesting at least 65% of French people back the policy, the government played down the protests.

The EU parliament is to debate the Roma situation in Europe next week.

About 1,000 Roma (Gypsies) returned to Romania and Bulgaria from France last month, while official figures record that 11,000 Roma were expelled from France last year.

The League of Human Rights, which called for the demonstrations, said it wanted to counteract government “xenophobia” and what it described as the systematic abuse of Roma in France.

The rallies were backed by the opposition Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), France’s second largest trade union confederation.

‘Pushed away’

Trade unionists, students, anarchists, illegal immigrants and others turned out in Paris to the sound of whistles and drums.

The actions of the French government are nothing short of racism, targeting a under-represented impoverished minority because it is easy.  And what happens when the Roma are gone?  Who will the French government turn their attention on next as part of their nationalist agenda?

Even though I cannot physically attend the rallies, this is a declaration of solidarity with the Roma people.




3 responses

6 09 2010

But wasn’t their presence in France illegal as they had not immigrated properly? As a citizen and resident of Texas with our own flood of illegal aliens, it seems to me that a government must control its borders or it will fail. I am not sure how this is racist since the Roma had no right or standing to be in France.

6 09 2010
Royce Christian

I need to say, straight out, I am not speaking on behalf of the Roma, because I am not of that ethnicity. But, to give a general introduction, Roma do not necessarily belong to a particular country — they are not “Romanian” and many Romanians don’t like the Roma on the basis that people confuse the two, and so mistake Romanians for “criminals” (the stereotype), although Roma do make up a large minority group in Romania.

The Roma are a widely dispersed ethnic minority who has survived for centuries by migration around Europe to avoid hardship and persecution where possible.

I would argue they do not fit into the standard categorisation of citizenship modern nationalism imposes on people, but that is my personal argument and should be taken as one made by the Roma themselves.

The problem with the expulsions is that Roma communities often live in poverty, experience severe unemployment, are not integrated into wider society and still suffer discrimination where ever they happen to reside. As so often happens when a person or group of people have nothing, you steal, beg and scavenge what you need to survive. Simple fact. Expelling them is not a solution to the issue and, fact remains, they’ll just migrate again as they have done for centuries. It’s either that or starve.

As for the legal basis that the French government is operating on — I haven’t studied the French legal system so I can’t say anything with authority — but my understanding is that the expulsions are legal because of a technicality within EU law. Though migration within the EU is unrestricted, if you remain unemployed for a certain period of time, you can legally be deported. However, in saying this, I don’t think such a clause was introduced with the intention of targeting the Roma and their circumstances. Europe, after all, is pretty good at avoiding the persecution of minorities that have already suffered in the past. Next to the European Jewish population, the Roma were the next biggest minority to be targeted for extermination by the Nazi’s.

So, I’d venture to argue that just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is right or desirable, and this, certainly is one of those cases, especially given Sarkozy’s right-wing nationalist government, it is my position this is a case of persecution based on ethnicity.

12 10 2010

Immigration is a natural phenomenon. The reasons people across the world do so, are determined by pressures far more expansive than those which cause the flight of “criminals” and so forth across national borders. Illegal immigrants? Ask a native.

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