Where to bury a baby hatches racism row in France

Mayor allegedly refuses grave for a baby’s burial

Emma Finamore’s report, dated January 04, 2015, published in The Independent said two months old Maria Francesca died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) on Boxing Day, December 26, and was survived by her Roma parents who lived in a camp south of Paris. The baby was born on October 14 and died in the early hours of December 26. She was already cold  when her mother tried to feed her. Rushed to the nearby Corbeil-Essonnes hospital, the baby was pronounced dead from SIDS. The family requested permission from the authorities to bury the infant but, reportedly was refused by the mayor. 

But the baby’s death hugged the headlines over the weekend because of the local mayor’s refusal to grant a space for the baby’s burial. Mayor Christian Leclerc has strongly denied this accusation, saying he had been misunderstood, according to yahoo.com.

Mayor’s reason

According to BFM-TV, Champlan Mayor Christian Leclerc told press earlier this week that graves in his jurisdiction are reserved for taxpayers: “We must manage the seats in each case. The concessions are granted at a nominal price and maintenance is expensive, so priority is given to those who pay their council tax. ”

An alternative site

But Mayor Richard Trinquier of Wissous, a nearby town, has offered the bereaved Roma family an alternative site. Mayor Trinquier told French news channel, BFM-TV: “I didn’t hesitate a shadow of a second.” He said the refusal to grant a grave for the child is “humanly unthinkable”.

Officials’ reactions

Echoing the same sentiment, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the refusal was an insult to France, and with so many people talking ill remarks, Mayor Leclerc offered his condolences to the bereaved family and said his town of Champlan is now open for them to bury the baby, according to yahoo.com. But yahoo.com said the bereaved family refused his offer.

France’s human rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon said he was “shocked and stunned” by the alleged refusal, and announced a probe into the case. Prime Minister Manuel Valls in his Twitter message said: “Refusing a child a burial because of its roots is an insult to its memory, an insult to France.” President Francois Hollande said in a radio interview that he did not want French people to “lash out at others, like what happened in that cemetery.”

Case opens anew rift between France and the nomadic Roma

A member of the ASEFRR association that helps Roma Csilla Ducrocq said the baby’s mother “says that her heart has been ripped out” by the baby’s death. Some accused Leclerc of racism, with the case opening anew France’s abnormal relationship with the Roma, a nomadic of about 10 to 12 million people whose ancestors left India centuries ago, have long been discriminated and accused time and again of causing petty troubles, the report said.

The burial issue came in the heels of another two-month-old Roma baby who died in a hut in the city of Lille amid freezing temperatures on Thursday. It has caused an emotional uproar in France where governments have encountered criticisms for demolishing numerous Roma camps and evicting families with children. Overnight Champlan’s town hall was splashed with pink paint with “Lecler (sic), Valls, same state racism” plastered on the walls.

Child’s parents background

According to supporters, the child’s parents are Romanians in their mid-30s who have lived in France for at least 8 years. The couple’s older kids, 2 boys aged 5 and 9 attend school in Champlan. The family lived in a makeshift settlement which is near to Paris’ Orly airport on the outskirts of Champlan without potable water and electricity.

Dead baby finally laid to rest

The racism row over the infant’s burial has now subsided with the Roma dead baby finally laid to rest on Monday in a cemetery in Wissous south of Paris after a religious ceremony witnessed by about 100 people, including close family members and representatives from the Roma community, yahoo.com said.

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CREDIT: youtube.com for video; en.wikimedia for picture in poll.

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