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France to probe Paris refugee camp dismantling after ‘shocking’ clashes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
French gendarmes evacuate a makeshift tent camp for refugees, on Republic Square in Paris, France, on November 23, 2020, (Photo by AFP)

The French interior minister has promised to launch an investigation into the "shocking" scuffles that broke out after police dismantled a refugee camp in the heart of Paris.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday morning, Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote that he was seeking a full report into the incident, which took place in central Paris on Monday.

"Some of the images of the dispersion of the illegal migrant camp at Place de la République are shocking," the minister said.

A number of photos and videos circulating on social media showed police hitting demonstrators as they moved in to clear the square of around 500 blue tents at Place de la République.

Police, who said that the tents had been set up without official permission, later used tear gas to disperse the rest of the camp, driving the refugees out into the streets of central Paris.

"They are too violent," Shahbuddin, a 34-year-old Afghan refugee, sobbed after being forced out of his tent. "We just want a roof."

The latest clearance came just a week after police cleared out a bigger, illegal refugee camp on the outskirts of the French capital.

On November 17, French police started evacuating refugees camped under a motorway junction in suburban Paris, where they had been living for several months under insanitary conditions.

In recent years, thousands of refugees have traveled from Paris to the port of Calais and attempted to stow away on trucks heading across the Channel to England. A small number attempt the crossing by boat.

France has joined other European states in taking a tougher stance on refugees since 2011.

Observers maintain that refugees heading to Europe would not leave their home countries if they were not wrecked by Western-fueled conflicts.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has already sued the European Union (EU), saying member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean while attempting to reach Europe.

The French government also recently approved an amended security bill that would restrict the publication of images taken of police officers' faces while carrying out their duties in public spaces. Media unions say the controversial bill could give police a green light to prevent journalists from potentially documenting abuses by security forces.


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