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French Students Barricade High Schools to Protest Deportation of Classmates

Uprisings were touched off by outrage over 'inhumane' treatment of 15-year-old Kosovan Roma student arrested while on a school field trip

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

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.

Protests swept more than 30 schools in Paris and the suburbs on Thursday, according to the high school student union the UNL, with the Paris education authority reporting 14 schools were "disrupted."

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.


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“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 the 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."

To view footage from the protests, see the below video from the Guardian.


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