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Paris school students protest after Kosovo Roma girl's deportation

School students protest at Paris's Place de la Nation on Thursday
School students protest at Paris's Place de la Nation on Thursday Clare Sharkey

Police fired teargas in Paris Thursday after clashes at a school students' protest against the deportation of a 15-year-old Roma from Kosovo and a 19-year-old Armenian. The entrances to several of the capital's schools were blockaded as Interior Minister Manuel Valls defended the detention of Leonarda Dibrani's during a school trip and her deporation to Kosovo.

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"“We’re demanding that these two people be allowed to return [to France] and asking for a circular that stops anyone in school – from primary to university level – from being deported. We’ll continue demonstrating until we get that.” said Maximillien Draguet from the Fidl school students' union said on the Paris protest.

Over 1,000 school students gathered at Paris's Place de la Nation on Thursday morning, after picketing their schools and blockading the entrances.

Members of the hard-left Front de Gauche were also on the Paris protest, repeating former presidntial candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon's call for Valls to resign.

Riot police fired teargas after clashing with small groups of protesters.

Encouraged by the row over the handling of Leonarda Dibrani's expulsion from French territory, the Paris students drew attention to the case of a young Armenian, Khatchik Kachatryan, who is studying at a Paris lycée professionnel and was detained and deported last Saturday.

They claim that Kachatryan, who was liable for military service in Armenia, could face three to five years in jail for insubordination.

The protest movement also spread to other parts of the country.

In the southern town of Mende, about 100 students demonstrated under the slogan "Leonarda isn't going to class, nor are we".

Forty-four minors, of whom 35 were at school, were thrown out of France last year, according to immigrants' rights group Education Sans Frontières.

Faced with a backlash within his own party, Valls on Wednesday defended Dibrani's deportation but ordered an inquiry into its circumstances.

The 15-year-old, whose family left Kosovo nine years ago, told reporters in Mitrovica that she is "frightened" and cannot speak any of the local languages.

"If there is a God we will be on the next plane back to France," she told the AFP news agency.

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