French students protest against deportations

French students protest against deportations
Fri Oct 18, 2013 08:11:08

Thousands of high school students in Paris and other parts of France have rose up in anger at the deportation of foreign pupils, after the high-profile eviction of a 15-year-old Roma girl.

Leonarda Dibrani was detained during a school trip earlier this month and deported to Kosovo with her parents and siblings, in a case that has raised questions over France's immigration policies, shattered the unity of the ruling Socialist party and landed France's popular interior minister Manuel Valls in hot water.

Critics have lashed out at the "inhumane" way the French-speaking teenager -- whose family had lived illegally in the country for four years -- was treated, pointing to the fact she was forced to get off a bus full of classmates in the midst of a school outing.

On Thursday, several thousand students marched through the streets of the French capital, after having blocked the entrance to several schools and disrupted the smooth running of other establishments.

Police put the total number of young protesters at 2,500, while the FIDL high school union said there were around 7,000.

They protested the eviction of both Dibrani and Khatchik Kachatryan, a 19-year-old Paris student who was also deported on Saturday to Armenia.

"Bring back Khatchik and Leonarda, they belong here," the marching pupils chanted, holding up signs calling for Valls to resign or urging solidarity.

The protest movement also spread to other parts of the country. In the southern town of Mende, around 100 students demonstrated under the slogan "Leonarda isn't going to class, nor are we."

Valls has launched an investigation into the deportation of Dibrani on October 9 in the eastern town of Levier, which only came to light Wednesday when a non-governmental organization highlighted the incident.

In accordance with international law, asylum seekers in France cannot be deported while their case is being examined by authorities, a process that can take years.


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