Image: Deporting gypsies
Michel Euler  /  AP
A Romanian gypsy family with their belongings, is escorted by French police officers to the check-in desk at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris on Friday.
updated 8/20/2010 2:30:23 PM ET 2010-08-20T18:30:23

About 100 Gypsies, or Roma, were put on a charter flight headed to their native Romania on Friday, the second day in a row that France has expelled Roma in a much criticized government crackdown.

Associated Press Television News saw at least 100 Gypsy men, women and children arrive by bus at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport Friday. After checking in at the charter flight terminal, they were transported by bus to the waiting plane.

The flight's final destination was reportedly Timisoara, a city in western Romania.

President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the crackdown on Roma in late July as part of a larger "war" on delinquency. It is increasingly criticized as discriminatory because it singles out a particular community — even though France proudly boasts of its long-standing policy of being officially colorblind, that is, not differentiating between ethnic groups.

"We're moving toward an official racism," Socialist lawmaker Arnaud Montebourg charged on French TV.

Daniel Vasile, of the Partida Romilor, a party in Romania representing the Roma, has called the expulsions a "black stain on .... the history of France, but also of Romania" where Roma, a minority there, too, are particularly vulnerable.

France can repatriate Roma, even though they hail from EU-member states Romania and Bulgaria, if they are unable to prove they can support themselves.

French authorities have said the majority return on a voluntary basis, given small sums of money — €300 ($386) for each adult and €100 for children — to help them re-establish themselves at home.

However, it is an open secret that many quickly make their way back to France after pocketing the cash.

Since Sarkozy's July 28 announcement of a crackdown, police have dismantled dozens of illegally installed Gypsy camps, checked the situations of each inhabitant and prepared to whisk them to their Romanian homeland.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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