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by Jean-Emmanuel Ducoin

The Shame of Eric Besson, the French Immigration Minister

Translated Saturday 24 October 2009, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Henry Crapo

“Joy is quickly forgotten, humiliation, never.”

“Joy is quickly forgotten, humiliation, never.” Film director Michael Haneke used this phrase on the release of his film, le Ruban blanc (The White Ribbon [1]) to speak of the indignities of the torments of today’s world. He will surely agree to our using his pithy expression which, in a few words, sums up our emotion and our anger. Every republican who remains faithful to the basic oath contained in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 must feel humiliated and soiled, and feel deep within himself the symbolic importance of this moment in time. Alas, as our anguished hearts suspected, Roissy’s windy runway [2] has indeed become the scene of the dirty work of a government that will stoop at nothing to suck up to the fascist ideology of the National Front in the run-up to the 2010 regional elections.

In Immigration Minister Eric Besson’s vision of the French Republic, the sordid nature of the proceedings compounds the dishonor. It was almost midnight, the hour of the darkest deeds, the hour of the mafioso, and out of sight and earshot of the shouts of revolt voiced by the 300 elected officials and activists who had initially gathered at the Lille airport to prevent the departure of this “charter flight of shame” when three Afghans of France were forced onto a Franco-British flight to Kabul. Cowardly and odious in his pride, the mini-minister in person, Eric Besson, announced yesterday morning to his fellow citizens that the deed had in fact been done. “Three adults of male sex” he proclaimed in ethno-zoological tones, more chilling than ever before.

With this deportation France has recommenced the dastardly “group flight” proceeding, to which she had not had recourse since 2005, thanks to the interventions of the UN High Commission for Refugees and the European Court of Human Rights. This time, those institutions counted for nothing. What French President Nicolas Sarkozy desired, Eric Besson dared do! Decidedly, neither the president nor his minister knows the meaning of shame... Reasons for shame are hardly lacking. First a lie “in the national interest”: Besson had sworn that no plane would leave for Kabul on Tuesday. Next the extent of a terrible injustice: that of a deportation, whatever its nature. Finally, redoubled by another injustice, one that has aroused indignation even in the ranks of the right-wing deputies and senators: these Afghans have indeed been sent back to a war-torn country, in violation of the right to asylum, when they had fled their country to seek protection in Europe ... at the very time when France is debating whether to send new military contingents to Afghanistan.

Such is the delirium of an infamous policy, which is supposed to “give a strong warning to immigrants and the smugglers of immigrants,” when, as everyone knows, a true strong gesture would be to help that country out of the crisis into which it has been plunged, to help it economically by reinforcing all forms of civilian cooperation. Let us not forget that France, whose military presence is a heresy, remains the country that is least contributing to Afghanistan in economic terms. By sending these immigrants back to that quagmire, the government has knowingly put their lives at risk, exposing them to torture and to possible death.

In 2005, a certain Eric Besson, when he was still a member of the Socialist Party, could not find severe enough words to condemn the immigration laws drafted by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, and he spoke of “dangerous breaches” of our republican compact. Having obtained a ministerial portfolio and a place in the group photo of the government, the fellow has blotted out his convictions from his mind. That same man has just humiliated the French Republic.

[1Le Ruban blanc

[2Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris

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