The Roma New Year festivities kick off, spanning three days of cultural revelry
France Begins Dismantling Roma Camps
France has begun dismantling illegal Roma camps following the order of President, Nicolas Sarkozy, BBC reports.
On Friday, about 100 people, living in makeshift shelters and tents, were moved on after police emptied a camp in the central city of Saint-Etienne. Officers first sealed off the area, and then removed the occupants. The camp has been in the city since May.
A week ago, in the aftermath of clashes between Roma and the police in central France, Sarkozy announced plans to shut 300 illegal camps within the next three months and vowed to deport all Roma who have violated the law in any way. The clashes erupted after a gendarme shot and killed a traveler who had driven through a checkpoint.
According to BBC, a Romanian police officer was present, but there is no information about Bulgarian presence. Most Roma, who live in illegal camps in France, are believed to be recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria and Romania.
The government's decision to clear 300 unauthorized camps - reportedly half the total in France - has been condemned by human rights groups, who say it is deliberately stigmatizing a generally law-abiding section of society to win support among right-wing voters.
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