The Spanish government supports the French Interior Minister, who calls for the deportation of gypsies
By Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
There is unease among the Roma community all over Europe. The extreme right, that is to say, those who have always been Nazis, are chasing us and killing us in Hungary, Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic…and some unequivocally democratic governments such as those in Italy, France or the UK are supporting policies of strong collective repression against us people whose only crime, in the majority of cases, is to be a gypsy.
In the past we suffered from harsh repression under the government that was run by ex-French president Nicolás Sarkozy. Everybody remembers his deportation policy when it came to Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies. A policy that he backed during his time as interior minister and which ended with him becoming president. Those who follow the developments of the Romani Union know that in summer of 2010 we began a large scale protest in which tens of thousands of French citizens took to the streets to protest strongly about the openly racist policy. We find comfort in the fact that the main leaders of the Socialist party, who were then in the opposition party, supported us. As well as this we had the support of some distinguished members of Sarkozy’s own party, who condemned the harsh and inhumane policy. The reaction of the active political world and the cultural world showed that they are clearly and openly on our side.
And then there was the Dutch president with a nice surprise during his electoral campaign. The former socialist candidate opposed the collective deportations by saying that it should be the judges who, in individual cases, determine whether a person should be deported back to their home country. This is something we have always said and defended.
The Roma who form part of the Romani Union have always stated that no country should welcome citizens from other member states who commit serious crimes or pose a threat to the peaceful coexistence of people. That is how the European Parliament saw it and urged France to “immediately” stop the deportation of gypsies. This approved decision insists on the right of freedom of movement and residence of “all” European Union citizens. Members of the European Parliament demonstrated their “deep worry” about the use of the “inflammatory and openly discriminating” rhetoric in some politician’s speeches, which could lead to giving “credibility to racist statements” by extremists.
The European ministers “strongly” condemned the measures taken “by French authorities and other member states to deport gypsies and nomads”. They warned that “mass” evacuations are “prohibited” by the Charter of Fundamental Rights (legally binding since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty) and that they violate the laws and treaties of the EU.
The French Interior Minister is a threat to the peaceful coexistence of all Europeans
At Romani Union we strongly feel that the French Interior Minister is a threat to the peaceful coexistence of all Europeans. His repressive policy against ethnic minorities, and specifically against the Roma, may have serious repercussions for European history. His populist speech on such topics reminds us of certain atrocities in the recent history of this old continent. When he dares say that the camps where the Roma live in bad conditions should be demolished and the gypsies deported because they cause “begging and delinquency” he is in agreement with the racist and xenophobic extreme right, which has been clearly identified in France as the Le Pen party. For Manuel Valls, the solution is the deportation of Roma from France, seeing as their integration into France is too difficult due to their “different cultures”, (surely other solutions must have occurred to him, but maybe he does not dare mention them).
It is impossible to say such things without trembling with anger. Manuel Valls, who without a doubt will have read La penséé sauvage by Lévi-Strauss, must have been able to identify with primitive societies. Such societies live on the fringes of humanity with regards to the limits of the tribal group in which anyone outside the group is perceived as a foreigner, dirty and crude subhumans, not even men, dangerous animals, etc. Thank God the French citizens aren’t about to throw away the prestige or commitment which made them the fathers of the revolution, which in turn allowed for the establishment of Human rights.
The Spanish government has decided to award the French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, the Great Cross of the Order of Civil Merit for his “extraordinary services” to Spain. Manuel Valls, originally from Spain, has shown on several occasions his department’s support for the policies that Mariano Rajoy has put in place to fight terrorism. In relation to this subject he has been heard say on many occasions “Spain’s agenda is France’s agenda”
We have no objection to this. The Spanish government is free to award who they like, of course! We are only sorry that it has happened at the precise moment when the worldwide public opinion has turned against this person. He ordered that a 15-year-old Roma girl that had been living in France for almost five years and who was two months away from legalizing her administrative status, be removed from a school bus, and sent her back to Kosovo, which for many Roma equates to hell on earth.
Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
Lawyer and Journalist
President of the Spanish Romani Union
Vice-president of the International Romani Union
This article has been translated into English within the PerMondo initiative. PerMondo offers free translation of websites and documents for NGOs so they can spread their message. A project managed by the translation agency Mondo Agit. Voluntary translator: Pearl Mahon. Proof-reader: Imogen Folland