Student protestors poured onto the streets of Paris to make sure the voices of Leonarda Dibrani and Khatchik are heard across France. Fifteen-year-old Leonarda was removed by police from a schoolbus and deported to Kosovo after her family had exhausted all their asylum claims. Khatchik is another student of Armenian descent, who was also removed.
Student Ines Khelifa told euronews:
“We want to fight against this roundup of students who were unjustly expelled, not only for Khatchik and Leonarda, but generally because you shouldn’t interfere with a place of education. Everyone has the right to an education and it is unacceptable that they were expelled like this.”
The situation has sparked a political furore in France and brought the sensitive issue of immigration firmly to the fore of the nation’s consciousness. The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has borne the brunt of the criticism amid calls that his immigration policies are too tough. The incident comes hot on the heels of a step-up against the Roma migrants living in illegal camps across France.
The French Education Minister Vincent Peillon urged the protection of schools, where students can feel safe:
“What is certain is that when one is in the setting of a class outing – as was the case – you are part of school life and until then, you can’t intervene during that time. Schools should be regarded as sacred.”
Far from the political rhetoric and plucked from her friends and what she considers her country, Leonarda resides for the time being with her family in Kosovo.