France: Students strike, blockade against racist deportations

Issue 
Thousands of high school students protested across Paris against the deportation of their classmates, October 17.

Thousands of high school students have confronted authorities in Paris after several asylum seekers were deported by the French government.

Protests broke out on October 17 with students building barricades in the streets and occupied their schools, as well as engaging in clashes with riot police. The students were opposing the deportation of several of their peers who had been stolen away by the racist French government.

A 15-year-old Kosovan-Roma student was one of several young people deported when the French government denied her family asylum. Leonarda Dibrani was arrested on a school field-trip in front of her peers.

This has sent shockwaves through the youth of Paris, many of whom are angry about such deportations.

A high school student union, UNL, reported up to 30 schools were hit by demonstrations and strikes. These were mainly rooted in the working class suburbs with large immigrant populations.

A mass protest took place in the Place de la Nation, as students in some high schools blocked the entrances with rubbish bins to repel tear-gas and baton-wielding riot police.

This mass uprising is a direct response to the racist policies of the French government, which has been using strict immigration laws to target immigrant communities, especially the historically oppressed Roma peoples.

Outrage was tangible in working class suburbs after the interior minister declared the vast majority of France’s Roma population, numbering about 20,000, would be deported under his command.

To the students in the streets baring placards that read “Solidarity” and “No to Deportations”, this is an attack against their communities and their friends.

Protester Romain Desprez told The Guardian on October 18: “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.”