Human rights activists in Europe are lamenting the behavior of the new socialist government in France. They say its policies vis-à-vis the gypsies are as bad — or even worse — than those of the previous government headed by Nicolas Sarkozy.
France: “Worse than Sarkozy”
The socialist government resumes the policies of its predecessor regarding gypsies and clears illegal settlements.
Unimpressed by protests from relief organizations and angry objections coming from left-wing circles, the socialist Interior Minister Manuel Valls continues clearing illegal gypsy settlements with the help of the police.
Last Tuesday, a settlement with 180 inhabitants was cleared in a suburb of Lyon. The authorities indicated that the private plot of land being occupied by them will be needed for construction purposes. After this, the gypsies settled in a nearby park. The first police actions that took place in the region of Lille at the beginning of this month sparked loud protests from left-wingers, and in contrast, Valls had the approval of the right wing. This strengthens again the suspicion of his critics that the new interior minister continues to apply the repressive policies against immigrants coming from Romania and Bulgaria. This very policy caused France to be denounced in the EU during Sarkozy’s term on the grounds of discrimination.
Last week the government discussed its policies regarding gypsies, and the outcome was the loosening of the regulations concerning the access to the labor market for EU citizens in order to support labor integration, but nothing changed substantially. The government does not want to renounce to deportations to countries of origin or the clearing of settlements in the name of the rule of law or human dignity.
Families repeatedly chased away
From the point of view of the families affected, the modus operandi of the agents at the behest of the socialist Interior Minister is identical to the actions taken by his conservative predecessor. Gilberte Renard, a member of the human rights league who was present at yesterday’s clearing, felt sorry that those gypsy families had been repeatedly chased away. Clearing settlements without alternative accommodations is useless. “Valls is worse than Sarkozy!”, a member of a gypsy NGO complained in front of TV cameras.