Bulgarian Roma protest against "ethnic expulsion" from France

08:01, September 19, 2010      

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A protestor participates in a protest held by Bulgarian Roma and their supporters outside the French embassy in Bulgarian capital Sofia Sept. 18, 2010. The protestors sent French President Nicolas Sarkozy a letter demanding an immediate stop of the expulsion of Roma migrants in France. (Xinhua/Xie Xuemin)

Some 300 Bulgarian Roma protested here on Saturday in front of the French Embassy against the policy of expelling Roma migrants adopted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The people who came from all over the country, chanted slogans such as "Europe supports us", "Do not humiliate us" and "Do not corrupt us with 300 euros", while their representative handed to the embassy a letter addressed to Sarkozy.

The letter, signed by 13 non-governmental organizations, insisted for termination of the expulsion of EU citizens selected to be expelled "because of their ethnic belonging."

"People who go to France, are driven by poverty in the hope of a better life," the letter said.

The letter also said that being poor is no crime and no basis for deprivation of basic human rights.

France has deported almost 1,000 Roma migrants to Bulgaria and Romania since Sarkozy's government launched a high-profile security crackdown in July. About 42 of them were Bulgarians.

One of the protesters, 26-year-old Krassimir Pavlov, told Xinhua that he was expelled from Bordeaux 15 days ago. He said that he lived in France for four months, sleeping in a hut and working as a builder without any contract.

"I do not agree with expulsion," Pavlov said adding that "it is a discrimination" and "withdrawal of human rights."

Another man who came to protest from Montana, some 110 km North of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, told Xinhua that 99 percent of the Roma living in this small town are unemployed. He has been unemployed in the last 20 years. "We have to go abroad, we just have to survive somehow," he said.

"If we have a good behavior when we go abroad, and if there we work, study and comply with all laws and mores, nobody will expel us from these countries," said Anita Kristi, a singer and dancer, one of the most popular representatives of the Roma culture.

She said that the "endless transition" between communism and democracy in Bulgaria during the last 21 years and the poverty were the main reason for the Bulgarian migration to the Western Europe.

"Let them be ashamed -- the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria, statesmen, rulers, which think only for their own pockets, not for the Bulgarian people, for the ordinary workers or the Gypsy-Roma," Kristi said.

Speaking about the French policy of expelling Roma migrants, she called it "the first sign of the collapse of the European Union."

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