Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Where do you go to file a complaint against the Government of France?

There is no difference between the thought or lack of thought about the Roma having their homes destroyed, being ousted from France, and shunted to Romania (a country they chose to leave) as the thoughts or thoughtlessness of the policemen who shut the doors of the cattle trucks on the Jews in the Holocaust. The only difference is the eyes of the world. There are more eyes now than there were then. There are less Nazis and their fate (we assume) will be different and yet the actions are exactly the same. It is division, it is economic racism, it is discrimination, I want no part of it. Yet here am I in France.

In July we saw the camp near Moulins cleared. It had been there for longer than I have been in the country. I assumed they had been given another 'official' site. However, knowing the treatment that people like travellers receive at the hands of the 'authorities' I must assume that their caravans/homes have been taken from them and they have nothing but what they are 'provided' with - I wonder what fate the government has decided their pets or animals will have - will they also be sent back to Romania?

There are other better ways to address the issues that once upon a time were not issues at all. It is a consequence of the cataloguing of human beings. I expect it won't be much longer before we're asked to queue for our barcode tattoos/chips. Wait a minute I already have one of those on my passport.

I don't somehow, think that this is an application to increase freedom. The Roma's choice has been taken away. A human right has been bulldozed right before the eyes of everyone. I respected France; they had laws against GM food, they stood up for things that may have taken away their freedoms, blocked roads and stalled the country if they had too. They came out in droves to protest when the right wing could have got power. Why then the inaction? What is so frightening about crumbling caravan sites with people who are trying to eke out a lifestyle on the edge of so called society; people who have been given no options. There is no box on a form for those wishing to retain their freedom and identity and there should be.

There should be paperwork for everyone, or at least the assumption of a right to land and tenure ship while you are on that land, and those rights should be respected. Immigrants should have provisional passports that give them the same rights as everyone else; homeless people should be given an address at least that they can use as their own for filling out forms. What is so hard about recognising your fellow human beings as just that?

These are people who are deserving of the most deference and generosity. Persecuted through out centuries; their means of making a living literally whittled away until the few options left to them include crime or disenfranchisement from local communities. Embrace and adopt them - don't amputate them like a diseased limb - they are human beings. Everyone should have human rights

Article 1 -We 'should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.'
Article 2 'Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind,'
Article 3 'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person'
Article 6 'Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.'
Article 7 'All...are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law'
Article 9 'No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.'

Clearly none of the above have been taken into consideration n the actions of the Government of France pertaining to the Roma People. It begs the question are human rights in this day and age only applicable to those identified by the law, conforming to the law, having the right paperwork and economic contributions to society? Or are human rights a birthright bestowed upon you at birth, qualified by you because of your status as a human being? I know the answer to that question, it would seem that the government of France does not.

What should happen now is this. The forced 'exile' of the Roma should stop. Those who have already been repatriated - which is a term that is not correct; the Roma do not belong to a country specific, they belong to themselves as a people and should have the right to travel freely as a consequence of identifying as such - they should be given the means to return to France if they so choose. There nomadic lifestyle should be assisted; not corralled and they should be given the rights of anyone who chooses to live in a house or stationary place of residence. Here lies the problem. Place of residence As a human being my identity is broader than the country I was born in and the place I choose to live in. There should be an International Passport for those of us unconstrained by nationality. We should be assisted in our identifying ourselves as global citizens rather than demonised for life experiences that have led to inadequate paperwork.

France could continue as myopically as it has been recently, or it could set the precedent for an enlightened society. It has the space, the opportunity and the resources to do so. Failing the government to act thus - the people should act on their own initiative, not through violence or crime, but through generosity of spirit and a spirit inclusiveness. We should share what we have.

I am a Roma. I have no papers. Come and get me.

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