French Students Barricade High Schools to Protest Deportation of Classmates
Thousands of French high school students have launched protests across Paris, building barricades to block their own schools' entrances, to show their opposition to aggressive government deportations of their classmates.
The uprisings were touched off by what many are calling the "inhumane" expulsion of a 15-year-old Kosovan Roma student Leonarda Dibrani, who was arrested in front of her fellow pupils while she was on a school field trip earlier this month after her family was denied asylum. She, her five siblings, and her parents were subsequently deported to Kosovo.
Students blocked entrances to several schools with barricades and protests. The Guardian reports, "At one high school in Paris students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying 'Education in danger.'" A mass protest took place at Paris's Place de la Nation, France 24 reports.
Some reports have emerged of clashes between protesters and police—who wielded batons and fired teargas.
"Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work and have a family. When children try to achieve that, France refuses, and that is not my country," said protester Romain Desprez in an interview with the Guardian.
“Everyone has the right to an education,” Steven Nassiri, spokesman of the FIDL high school union, told AFP, explaining that protesters were demanding the return of students who had been deported from France.
Deportations like Dibrani's are commonplace in a country known for its harsh immigration laws targeting its many migrant communities. France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls sparked public outrage last month when he declared that a vast majority of France's country's 20,000 Roma residents should be deported.
"My home is in France," Dibrani declared in French when interviewed from the Kosovo city of Mitrovica where she was deported, the Guardian reports. "I don't speak the language here [in Kosovo] and I don't know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened."