France deportee rejects return offer
Leonarda Dibrani, the 15 year-old schoolgirl whose deportation from France sparked protests, rejects French President Francois Hollande offer.PT1M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2vvg5 620 349 October 20, 2013
A Roma schoolgirl whose deportation from France sparked student protests will be allowed to return, but without her family, says French President Francois Hollande.
Leonarda Dibrani's deportation caused an outcry, sending angry school students into the streets and embroiling Interior Minister Manuel Valls in controversy.
Much of the anger surrounding the 15-year-old has focused on how she was forced off a bus full of classmates on a school outing earlier this month, before she was deported with her family to Kosovo.
"I will not go alone": Leonarda Dibrani with her sister Medina in Mitrovica, Kosovo. Photo: AFP
''If she makes a request, and if she wants to continue her studies, she will be given a welcome, but only her,'' Mr Hollande said on TV, in his first remarks on the affair.
An investigation into the deportation published on Saturday found that it was lawful but that police could have used better judgment in the way they handled it.
Leonarda turned down Mr Hollande's offer, speaking from the town of Mitrovica in Kosovo, where she has been living with her family since being deported on October 9 from the eastern French town of Levier.
''I will not go alone to France,'' she said. ''I will not abandon my family. I'm not the only one who has to go to school; there are also my brothers and sisters.''
Her father, Resat, 47, said the family would not be divided and would return to France by any means.
''My children were integrated in France. We continue to fight, as my children are strangers here [Kosovo]'', he said.
Leonarda, her parents and five brothers and sisters lived in France for four years while their asylum bid was processed. It was rejected in the northern summer.
The controversy follows an outcry last month, when Mr Valls said most of the 20,000 Roma in France had no intention of integrating and should be sent back to their countries of origin.