- diplomacy - Fidel Castro - France - immigration - Roma people
Castro's 'holocaust' remark on Roma expulsions slammed
France has reacted angrily to Fidel Castro's accusation that deporting Roma immigrants from France was a "racial holocaust", saying the former Cuban leader's statement "demonstrates his ignorance of history and disdain towards its victims".
AFP - France on Saturday slammed Fidel Castro for accusing France of "racial holocaust" regarding its expulsion of Roma migrants, saying the former Cuban leader's words were "unacceptable".
"The use of 'holocaust' by Mr Castro demonstrates his ignorance of history and disdain towards its victims," said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
"Such words are unacceptable," he added.
France in August launched a controversial crackdown on illegal Roma and gypsy camps across the country, leading to hundreds of people being flown back to Romania and Bulgaria.
"That Fidel Castro shows an interest in human rights is truly revolutionary," the spokesman added.
Speaking in Havana on Friday, Castro said gypsies in France "are victims of the cruelty of the extreme rightwing in France" and "victims of another kind of racial holocaust."
Earlier this week, Thomas Hammarberg, commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe, likened France's rhetoric on the issue to that used by the Nazi and fascist regimes.
The European Parliament meanwhile adopted a non-binding resolution this week emphasising "the right of all EU citizens and their families to free movement and residence throughout the EU, a right which is a fundamental aspect of EU citizenship."
Euro MPs also stressed that "mass expulsions are prohibited" under EU law, "since they amount to discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity."
The French government maintains it has been scrupulous in observing national and EU laws.
France has deported almost 1,000 Roma migrants to Bulgaria and Romania since President Nicolas Sarkozy's government launched a high-profile security crackdown. More than 8,000 Roma have been deported from France since the beginning of the year, with 9,875 expelled throughout last year.