Castro accuses France of 'racial holocaust'
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused France Friday of carrying out a "racial holocaust" over its expulsion of Roma migrants back to their homes in eastern Europe.
"The last thing one would expect is the news of the expulsion of French gypsies, who are victims of the cruelty of the extreme rightwing in France," Castro said at an event to promote the second volume of his autobiography.
Some 7,000 migrants are "victims of another kind of racial holocaust," Castro said.
France launched in August a controversial crackdown on illegal Roma and gypsy camps across the country, leading to hundreds of people being flown back to Romania and Bulgaria despite fierce criticism by human rights organizations.
"Strong protests in France are essential (to counter the expulsions), especially when at the same time millionaires are limiting the rights to retirement and reducing employment opportunities," Castro added, referring to recent plans to raise the retirement age in France from 60 to 62.
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 resolution emphasizing "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."
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.
© 2010 AFP