Roma NGOs call for Europe-wide boycott of French products
A federation of Romanian Roma civic organisations called Monday for a Europe-wide boycott of French products and services to protest against the French government clampdown on this minority.
"We call for a Europe-wide boycott of French products and services starting from September 6," Roma Civic Alliance President David Mark told AFP.
The Roma Civic Alliance is a federation of 21 Romanian NGOs involved in improving the life of Roma and Gypsy populations in this European country.
The NGOs also called on "Roma brothers and sisters, friends of all ethnic groups, all those committed to the principles of equality" to join protests in front of French embassies on the same day.
The boycott call has been sent to major Roma organisations in Europe "in order to make the French rulers more aware of the fact that fundamental rights are not subject to negotiation", the Alliance added.
"We know that the purchasing power of Roma is usually limited but nevertheless we think that this action is useful," Mark said.
Romania counts between 530,000 and 2.5 million Roma out of a total population of 21.5 million inhabitants.
France is Romania's fourth-largest commercial partner.
The boycott will "cease when the French authorities cease mass expulsions and stop criminalising an entire ethnic group," Mark added.
"We chose September 6 because the French government will organise a summit in Paris to discuss the Roma issue but the authorities only invited a few European countries", he stressed.
France has invited the interior ministers of Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, Great-Britain as well as the Belgian EU presidency for a meeting on "asylum and illegal immigration" in Paris on September 6.
The Italian Interior minister Roberto Maroni said the issue of Roma will be discussed.
"Roma issues should be discussed in regular European meetings and not in a summit where only a handful were invited, leaving aside eastern European countries" host to large communities of Roma, Mark insisted.
© 2010 AFP