L’expulsion des Roms a choqué aussi les américains

The Opinion Pages | Editorial du New York Times

France’s War on the Roma



Despite repeated warnings from the European Union, the United Nations and human rights groups, France continues to persecute the Roma. Last Thursday, about 300 people were evicted from Le Samaritain, a Roma camp in the Paris banlieue of La Courneuve. The fate of Le Samaritain was hardly unique — the French government has been forcibly evicting Roma for years — but the particulars of this case speak volumes about France’s cynical attitude toward the Roma.

Under the government of President François Hollande, forced evictions of Roma, also known as Gypsies, have exploded. More than 19,000 Roma were evicted in France in 2013, twice as many as in 2012. The European Roma Rights Center documented another 13,483 Roma evicted in France in 2014, and the evictions have continued this year at a rate of 150 per week. In June, the United Nations slammed France on its treatment of the Roma, and called for France to improve the Roma’s housing conditions, provide “on a systematic basis” alternative lodging for Roma evicted from camps, and redouble efforts to keep Roma children in school.

None of these recommendations were respected when authorities moved in to evacuate Le Samaritain. Established in 2008, it was France’s oldest Roma camp. It enjoyed support from various community and nonprofit groups and had even been proposed for entry in an architectural competition on temporary structures. The groups had a proposal to help residents assimilate into French society and move out of the slum over the next few years. Children at the camp were enrolled in school. A quarter of the adults held regular jobs.

Despite all this, on Aug. 6 a policeman reportedly told residents of Le Samaritain that the camp had to be cleared before the December COP 21 international climate change meeting, slated to take place a few kilometers away in Le Bourget. The residents were stunned. Jozsef Farkas, a plucky 17-year-old who grew up in Le Samaritain, launched a protest petition on Change.org that garnered more than 38,000 signatures. On Aug. 27, just days before the new school year was set to begin, police moved in to evict. Clearly, Roma shantytowns are a blot on France’s image — but that stain just became darker with the eviction of Roma from Le Samaritain.


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