Tuesday, June 17, 2014



Some like to pretend that a lynching is an aberration that just happens...the result of some bad people or some bad thinking.  You and I know there is a lot more to it then that.

Take a look at what is described as a "vigilante" attack against a Roma youth left for dead in France last week.  A sixteen year old kid was found unconscious in a supermarket grocery cart last Friday after being beaten by a dozen residents just north of Paris. The youth, named only as Darius, suffered multiple head injuries and has been placed in an artificial coma by doctors.

The attackers claimed he had broken into an apartment.  IOL News reports:

Officials (said) the group had come looking for the youth earlier that day at the abandoned house opposite the housing project, where he was living with his family.
They took him away and locked him a basement where he was accused of breaking into an apartment, and then was beaten, they said.

The Guardian adds,

A police source suggested there were four kidnappers, but a Romanian garage owner opposite the Roma camp said his wife had warned him a group of a dozen hooded youngsters were causing trouble, according to Le Monde. A few hours later, Darius's mother received a call made from her son's mobile telephone allegedly demanding a €15,000 (£12,000) ransom for his safe return....

Out comes the sympathetic French President Francois Hollande who called the attack "an offense against the founding principles of our country."  Of course, Holland failed to mention the outrageous, racist policies his government has directed against the Roma, and the propaganda of fear and hate it has spewed forth.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who took a hard line on the Roma in his previous role as interior minister, also condemned the attack.  More to the point, he suggested to vigilantes to let the police deal with the Roma.

Well, the authorities have been dealing with the Roma, thank you...in their own ways.

The Romeurope Association said the youth's lynching last week was "the terrifying consequence of years of ineffective public policy and remarks by politicians, officials and journalists and media outlets that maintain and seek to harness this unhealthy [social] climate."

From the Guardian:

In February the case against a 40-year-old man accused of throwing a mixture of bleach and cleaning fluid at Roma living near the Place de la République in central Paris was dismissed by a judge for lack of evidence.

In May 2013 several Gypsy families were attacked at a campsite in the north of France, and in October 2012 locals drove a group of Roma out of an improvised encampment and burned everything that remained. Local people had warned police they would be taking action against the 35 Roma.

Last year the EU warned France it could face sanctions over the treatment of its Roma community after Valls, who was then interior minister, suggested that most should be deported and France was "not here to welcome these populations".

About 20,000 Roma families were expelled from their makeshift homes in 2013, most of them in the summer, according to Amnesty International. A new round of expulsions is expected to begin shortly, with a major Roma camp in the southern city of Marseille being dismantled on Wednesday, Amnesty said.

During the elections in Paris a member of the French National Front suggested the best way to deal with the country's Roma population was to "concentrate" them in "camps"

SOS Racism said the attack was caused by an alarming change in attitudes towards Roma, which it added was "the clear result of the disgusting tensions into which our citizens have been plunged".

The European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (Egam) president, Benjamin Abtan, said: "There are racist insults and attacks against the Roma that are being used with increasing frequency. We are waiting for a radical change in the way this is being addressed and an extremely clear condemnation of the violence."

Will Freeman, writing at Think Progress points out,

Frequently, nationalist politicians from Europe’s right wing fringe have echoed popular anti-Roma sentiments in order to gain political clout. The arrival of thousands of Roma immigrants from Eastern Europe since 2010 has led some French to stigmatize the Roma as unwanted intruders and blame their make-shift encampments for a recent spike in crime. Politicians play on these fears and amplify xenophobia by vocally contributing to negative stereotypes about the Roma.

Notable among far-right European parties for its fiercely anti-Roma rhetoric is France’s National Front. Led by Marine Le Pen, daughter of controversial French right winger Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Frontswept France’s elections last month to choose new representatives for the European Parliament, the governing body of the E.U. While formerly marginal right wing parties racked up votes across the continent, the National Front’s success in France was unprecedented allowing the party to come in in first place. The party that once compared Muslim prayer to the Nazi occupation of France is unsurprisingly totally willing to stir up animosity against the Roma whenever they can. In March, a National Front candidate running for mayor in Paris said he would “concentrate” the Roma in “camps,” and described them as “an invasion of lepers.” The Roma suffered losses second only to Jews during the holocaust, with the Nazi genocide claiming as much as 25 percent of their population during the holocaust.

Anti-Roma sentiment isn’t limited to the far-right parties only starting to gain influence: it’s unfortunately widespread throughout French politics. Former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy gained notoriety among the Roma for forcibly clearing their settlements and deporting thousands. While Hollande promised not to evict any of the Roma without a plan for their relocation on the campaign trail, deportations have actually ramped up since his socialist party took office in 2012, with 20,000 evictions occurring in 2013 alone.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has also publicly called for the forced deportation of the majority of Roma people living in France, claiming “there is no other solution.” A memo calling on Paris police to “systematically evict” the city’s Roma population that leaked inApril suggests Valls’ orders are being followed.

Lynchings don't just happen. 

The following is from Amnesty International.

France: Forced evictions add to climate of fear amid alleged hate crimes

The ongoing forced evictions of minority and migrant communities around France are inflammatory and further violate the human rights of the affected communities.
The ongoing forced evictions of minority and migrant communities around France are inflammatory and further violate the human rights of the affected communities.

The apparent lynching of a Roma teenager in a Paris suburb that left him in a coma is just one of several recent alleged hate crimes against minorities that demand thorough investigations and not just condemnation by the French authorities, Amnesty International warned.

Instead, the authorities have been focusing their resources on carrying out forced evictions that crack down on Roma and other minority communities, as well as migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. 

“By failing to bat an eyelid in the face of alleged hate crimes, the French authorities are incubating a climate of fear that will spawn more such vicious attacks. All those responsible must face thorough investigations and prosecutions that take into account any discriminatory motive behind the assaults,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. 

“In this context, the ongoing forced evictions of minority and migrant communities around France are inflammatory and further violate the human rights of the affected communities. Roma and other minorities have a right to protection from discrimination, not additional targeting by the authorities.”
Vicious attacks on minorities
According to media reports, a 16-year-old Roma boy living in a squatted building in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (outside Paris) was reportedly kidnapped, severely injured and left in a coma late last week by around a dozen people who suspected him of burglary. Police reportedly found him unconscious and badly beaten in a trolley outside a supermarket on Friday 13 June. 

The previous night, 12 June, a 26-year-old man in the northern port town of Calais allegedly shot two migrants from Sudan and Eritrea. The Sudanese man was hospitalized for his injuries, while the suspect was reportedly arrested on 15 June. 

Amnesty International has not been able to verify whether the victims in these two incidents were targeted mainly or partially because of their minority background. But the organization has researched past violence and threats against minority communities in France and found that while the French Criminal Code treats a discriminatory motive as an “aggravating circumstance” and provides for increased penalties as a response to hate crimes, investigations have lacked specific procedures aimed at tackling discriminatory violence. 

“Under international law, the French authorities have an obligation not only to pursue the suspected perpetrators of an alleged hate crime, but also to ensure that the investigation and prosecution uncover and account for the discriminatory nature of the crime,” said Jezerca Tigani. 
Forced evictions

Besides facing an ongoing threat of discriminatory violence, Roma and migrants continue to be forcibly evicted by French authorities in violation of international and domestic safeguards. 

A 200-strong Roma community in Bobigny, near Paris, and another with 400 people in La Parette, Marseille, are at risk of being evicted in the coming days. Neither community has been thoroughly consulted or offered any alternative housing. 

Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are also at risk of such forced evictions. On 28 May 2014, French authorities forcibly evicted an estimated 700 migrants and asylum-seekers from makeshift camps in Calais in response to an outbreak of scabies. 

“Whether faced with a public health scare or alleged hate crimes, instead of resolving the issue at hand, the French authorities seem to resort to forced evictions as a backup plan. This is a dangerous and unlawful response that will only exacerbate the underlying problems and make hundreds of people homeless in the process,” said Jezerca Tigani. 

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