Monday, 25 April 2011

Unite Against Fascism | No to French expulsion of Roma people

UAF is deeply concerned that Roma people across Europe are being made scapegoats for the problems of the economic crisis. This racist scapegoating is particularly acute in France at the moment.

Children expelled

This week the French state will begin deportation flights of Roma people who have been removed from the places where they were staying. The interior ministry says 700 people, including children, will be expelled.

So far over 50 Roma camps have been broken up by police, and President Sarkozy has vowed that there will be 300 dismantled within three months.

Resurgence of racism

These moves encourage a culture of vilification and racism. Last week a UN report said France was experiencing “a significant resurgence of racism”.

Many trade unions and opposition political parties have strongly condemned the government’s treatment of Roma people.

Echo from Holocaust

And Jean-Pierre Grand, an MP from Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party, has attacked his own party’s policy, rightly describing the treatment of Roma and other Travellers as disgraceful. He has used the term “rafles” – the French word for “roundups” – to bring home what the policy means. The word is associated with the Second World War roundup of Jews by French police on behalf of the occupying Nazis.

The new attacks on the Roma carry a frightening echo of the Holocaust, when around half a million Roma people were murdered by the Nazis alongside six million Jewish victims.

Unite Against Fascism joint secretary Weyman Bennett said:

We are gravely worried at the increasing level of racism towards Roma people. In recent years, they have been the target of violence by fascist organisations in many parts of Europe. Around half a million Roma were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust – we have to say ‘Never Again!’

Against this background, we are deeply concerned by the actions of the French government. We urge the French government to cease immediately its targeting of Roma people and to halt the expulsions. And we call on everyone to prevent a repeat of such moves elsewhere in Europe.