France Under Fire for ‘Voluntary’ Expulsion of Gypsies
August 20, 2010
(ChattahBox)—France and other European countries have been quietly expelling Roma, commonly referred to as Gypsies for a number of years, after they are unable to either obtain a work permit or show proof of employment. This is nothing new. Roma have been scapegoated and cast out from other countries for centuries. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy is being criticized for his very public, mass expulsion of Roma, after vowing to break up their makeshift camps, to combat crime and illegal immigration. French riot police have been conducting early morning raids of the shack encampments. The Roma are then given a choice to “voluntarily leave” the country and return to Romania with about $385 in their pockets, or face a forced deportation without the funds. This past week, over two-hundred Roma were flown back to Romania. And French officials say they plan to deport a total of 850 Roma by the end of August.
The New York Times points out that mass expulsions of one ethnic group are illegal under European Union rules, but Sarkozy’s “voluntary” deportations skirt the rules.
“On Thursday, France flew some 100 Roma home to Romania — people who France insists agreed to leave voluntarily for a flight and a resettlement sum of about $385 instead of facing the chance of forcible expulsion in a month.”
“Robert A. Kushen, executive director of the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre, said that by providing this essentially false choice, “the French are trying to insulate themselves from legal challenge, arguing that those who leave are doing so voluntarily and are not being expelled as a group.”’
Sarkozy’s critics allege his Roma crackdown is political in nature, created to appeal to right-wing conservatives. And others fear, including the Romanian president, that a public crackdown on foreigners will create a climate of fear and bigotry.
“Romania’s President Traian Basescu said the expulsions showed the need for a Europe-wide plan on integrating Roma communities while Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi warned against “xenophobic reactions” after the economic downturn.”
‘“What has happened in Paris shows that we must have an integration plan across Europe for Roma citizens,” Mr Basescu said.”
Photo Source: Wikmedia Commons/Adam Jones/Roma (Gypsy) women returning from market in Sighisoara, Romania, June 2007.