French racist mayor refuses Roma baby girl’s burial

Cemetery of Champlan in France

From Al Jazeera:

French mayor slammed over Roma burial denial

Paris suburb mayor accused of racism after refusal to allow baby of ethnic minority to be buried in municipal cemetery.

Last updated: 03 Jan 2015 23:28

The mayor of a Paris suburb has been accused of racism following his refusal to allow a Roma baby to be buried in the municipal cemetery.

Christian Leclerc, the mayor of Champlan, has explained his refusal on the grounds that the cemetery has “few available plots.”

“Priority is given to those who pay their local taxes,” Leclerc was quoted by Le Parisien daily as saying.

Critics, however, believe his decision to refuse the nearly three-month-old girl a final resting place was motivated by anti-Roma sentiment.

“It’s racism, xenophobia, and stigmatisation,” Loic Gandais, president of an association helping Roma families in the region, said.

Gandais accused Leclerc of hiding behind the fact that the baby, identified only as Maria Francesca, was pronounced dead in another town.

The infant was rushed to hospital on December 26 in the nearby town of Corbeil-Essonnes, where she was declared dead from sudden infant death syndrome.

The child’s parents are Romanian natives who have lived in France for at least eight years, according to supporters. Their two other children are attending school in Champlan.

Roma plight

Faced with the mayor’s refusal, they have arranged for their daughter to be laid to rest on Monday in the town of Wissous, a few kilometres from Champlan.

Most of France’s roughly 20,000 Roma live in makeshift settlements with little or no access to basic amenities.

Successive governments have drawn fire for demolishing numerous camps and evicting families with children, although some in France have supported a tough approach.

Roma families in Champlan live on two plots of land without water or electricity.

Though many towns around Paris struggle to integrate Roma migrants some have been moved by the plight of Maria Francesca’s parents.

Explaining his offer to host the burial the conservative mayor of Wissous, Richard Trinquier, told AFP it was “a question of humanity”.

“The pain of a mother who carried a child for nine months, and lost her after two and a half months must not be worsened.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

An advocacy group for French Roma speaks of shame and calls this racism of the right-wing mayor. “They just do not want Roma, dead or alive. It is inhumane. There is not a shred of empathy.”

“How can they refuse this? It’s disgusting, unfair, inhumane. A Roma family feels as much pain as French parents at the loss of a child.”

See also here. And here. And here.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The row over Maria Francesca’s grave has coincided with another episode that points to the erosion of the barriers that once existed in France between the “mainstream” centre-right (including the heirs of Charles de Gaulle) and the far right FN (composed partly of the heirs of the collaborationist Vichy regime of 1940-44). Senior officials in the junior movements of both the FN and Mr Sarkozy’s UMP held a joint celebration on New Year’s Eve and posted selfies on the internet.

The UMP demanded an explanation from party members. Former President Sarkozy took over the leadership of the party again in November. He plans to move the UMP to the right on issues such as immigration – but to refuse all dealings with the Front National.

Belgian xenophobic mayor’s ‘musical’ anti-Roma plan backfires

This video says about itself:

French Roma expulsions spark racism warning

19 August 2010

After destroying their homes and giving them $383, France is flying 700 Roma people to Romania and Bulgaria.

The government has been dismantling Roma settlements, saying they were havens for illegal trafficking, child exploitation, begging and prostitution.

But Romania’s foreign minister says he’s worried France’s action is creating xenophobia.

Al Jazeera’s Estelle Youssouffa looks at the man leading the French drive for security and public order.

By Evan Bartlett in British daily The Independent:

A plan to remove a group of Roma Gypsies by playing loud music backfired on a town mayor when the group responded by dancing.

Gino Debroux, the mayor of Landen – a small town 30 miles from Brussels in Belgium – had resorted to the measure yesterday after claiming the Roma had outstayed their agreed tenancy on a private plot of land.

He hired a local DJ to play music up to 95 decibels – the equivalent of a pneumatic drill from 50 feet away – but his choice of Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits as a first song did not have the desired effect as children from the camp broke out into a small jig.

This music video is called Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing.

“I want to thank the mayor,” one camp resident told Reuters. “It’s very nice that he sent a DJ for us to have a party.”

See also here.

Roma teenager attacked by racist mob in Paris

This video from France is called Roma boy attacked in Paris: this will shock France.

By Kumaran Ira in France:

Roma boy attacked by lynch mob in northern Paris

20 June 2014

A 16-year-old Roma teenager, Darius, was abducted and savagely beaten by a lynch mob last Friday at the Cité des Poètes estate in a poor northern suburb of Paris, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. As of this writing, he is still in a coma, fighting for his life in a Paris hospital after suffering multiple skull fractures.

The assault on Darius is an indictment of French society, and, in particular, of the persecution of the Roma by the Socialist Party (PS) government, whose officials are ordering police to break up Roma encampments and have called for all Roma to leave France. The government and the police covered up the lynching for four days, finally breaking the news on Tuesday.

Julie Launois-Flacelière, the lawyer retained by Darius’ family, said, “Darius was taken away as they watched by several individuals, some of whom were masked and armed.” The teen was reportedly pushed into a Renault Clio around 5:30 p.m. on Friday by a group of armed men. According to police, Darius was then locked in a basement, where he was beaten to within an inch of his life.

A few hours after Darius was kidnapped, his mother received a call from his mobile, demanding a €15,000 ransom for his return. She alerted the police. Darius was found unconscious in an abandoned supermarket trolley on the side of the N1 motorway.

The attack on Darius was reportedly an act of vengeance, as local residents accused him of stealing jewelry in a nearby flat earlier on Friday. Prosecutor Sylvie Moisson said the attack on Darius occurred after an apartment had been broken into and items stolen. He had reportedly been questioned by police in connection with robberies in the estate, but he had not been convicted of any crime.

Darius, together with his family and other Roma people, came to live in a makeshift camp close to the Cite des Poètes housing estate in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine that housed about 200 Roma people. Their camp was set up near an abandoned house a few weeks ago, after they were expelled from Aubervilliers at the end of May. After the attack on the boy, the Roma in the camp fled the area in fear the same evening.

The main responsibility for the barbaric assault on Darius lies with the political establishment and the corporate media. Over the last five years, the French political elite has adopted racial and discriminatory measures targeting the Roma population and stigmatizing the entire ethnic group.

The escalating social tensions underlying the assault were provoked by the PS’ public vilification of the Roma, recent moves by police to smash Roma camps throughout France, and the poverty and desperation in France’s suburbs provoked by decades of social austerity and budget cuts.

The unemployment rate in poorer French suburbs stands at 24 percent, compared to 10.1 percent at the national level. Youth between 15 and 24 are most affected by unemployment, which for them reaches 45 percent.

A 27-year-old electrician and resident of the area, Toufik, told Le Monde, “We are condemned to do everything ourselves. That is the problem. All the youth have had problems with police, we will not call them… Here, there is not a movie theater, a mall, a swimming pool, a park for children, nothing.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, then-candidate François Hollande pledged to find a “solution” of the Roma question involving breaking up their camps and detaining them in special facilities—making clear he would continue the incumbent conservative Nicolas Sarkozy’s anti-Roma policy.

After Hollande’s election, his government moved to aggressively target the Roma. It has forcibly dismantled Roma encampments in France, deporting tens of thousands. Last year, then-Interior Minister and current Prime Minister Manuel Valls claimed that Roma should be deported and France was “not here to welcome these populations”. He has given local authority the mission “to dismantle Roma camps when there is a court ruling.”

On Wednesday, local authorities ordered the dismantling of a Roma camp in Marseille, which housed 400 people, including hundreds of children. The PS government reportedly evicted a record 19,380 Roma people from makeshift camps in 2013. Last October, the government deported a 15-year-old Roma schoolgirl Leonarda Dibrani along with her family to Kosovo, sparking student protests in several cities.

After finally breaking their silence on the lynching of Darius, the PS and the media made tried to downplay their constant political targeting of the Roma and to distance themselves from the vigilante beating of Darius. Hollande called the assault an “unspeakable and unjustifiable attack on all the principles on which our republic was founded,” while Valls called it an “unacceptable act”.

In a June 18 editorial, Le Monde cynically postured as appalled by the crime and by indifference to the suffering of the Roma in France. It wrote, “Must one recall that the Republic would be unworthy of itself if it permitted such shameful indifference to predominate? This would mean admitting its impotence faced with such sinister vendettas as those of the cité des Poètes. That would be the worst.”

What contemptible hypocrisy! For years, the newspaper has—like the rest of the media and the political establishment—supported the PS and Hollande’s persecution of the Roma people. Having been callously indifferent to the consequences of these policies, they are raising this as an issue now only because the horrific consequences of their ethnic persecution of the Roma have now shocked people throughout France.

When in 2010 Hollande’s predecessor, Sarkozy, called for dismantling Roma camps across the country and stripping migrants of their citizenship, politicians and media criticized these methods as anti-democratic. Sarkozy’s measures were widely compared with the persecution of ethnic minorities, including both the Jews and the Roma, under France’s Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime during World War II.

Now that it is the PS is carrying out ethnic persecution of Roma, however, it meets with no opposition from within the political establishment or the media. Pseudo-left organizations like the New-Anti Capitalist party (NPA), which endorsed Hollande’s election and made a few tepid criticisms of Sarkozy’s anti-Roma policies, remain totally silent on PS’s persecution of Roma. All of these forces are politically implicated in the assault on Darius.

Polish far-right groups stir up anti-Roma hatred in the shadow of Auschwitz: here.