French schoolchildren protest at migrant expulsions with Paris march

Anger erupted after 15-year-old Kosovar girl was detained in front of classmates as part of government crackdown

Hundreds of French teenagers have erected barricades outside their schools and marched through Paris to protest against the police expulsions of immigrant families – including some of their classmates.

A few students clashed with police firing teargas but most marched peacefully, some climbing on bus shelters to shout demands for the interior minister’s resignation.

Anger erupted this week over the treatment of a 15-year-old Kosovar girl who was detained in front of classmates on a field trip. The government says eight of her family had been denied asylum and were no longer allowed to stay in France.

Such expulsions occur regularly around France as the government tries to limit illegal immigration. But the treatment of the girl touched a nerve, with critics saying police went too far and betrayed France’s image as a champion of human rights.

The students, saying the expulsions are unfair to children, hope to pressure France’s Socialist-led government into allowing the girl and a recently expelled Armenian boy to return to France.

At one high school in Paris students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying “Education in danger”.

“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,” said protester Romain Desprez.

The Kosovar girl, Leonarda Dibrani, told the Associated Press from the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica that she wants to return to France. Activists say her Dibrani family fled Kosovo about five years ago because they are Roma and faced discrimination and few opportunities.

“My home is in France,” Dibrani said in French. “I don’t speak the language here [in Kosovo] and I don’t know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened.”

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