Léonarda Dibrani: Not Kosovar enough either!

Léonarda Dibrani and her father in their temporary residence in Kosovo.

On October 16th, Léonarda Dibrani and her family were attacked in the street in Mitrovica in Kosovo, a week after their deportation from France on October 9th. Agence France Presse said that the Dibranis were walking in the streets of Mitrovica with their children when they were attacked by strangers. Then the story changed, and “they” were not strangers but people involved in a private dispute. Either way, a policeman who remained anonymous said “it demonstrates that the Dibranis are not safe in Kosovo.”

Actually, the Kosovar authorities are quite embarrassed since none of the Dibranis are from Kosovo, except for the father. The mother and most of the children were born in Italy. The younger girl was born in France.

The father admitted to having lied because he thought that declaring Kosovar origins would give them documentation to remain in France more easily.

This story brings to light the question of documentation, proper or not, that allows life with less stress and anxiety. For Léonarda and her brothers and sisters, life was going to school in France. Ever since her arrest and deportation, her teachers have been mobilized to denounce this particular situation, the end of her life in France.

Léonarda’s story is symbolic of asylum rights, say the high school French union and Reseau Education Sans Frontiere (Education Without Borders Network). Their demonstration in Paris numbered 7000 people, students and teachers who demanded that the socialist government respect the people who are in France and stop deporting undocumented students. The `Léonarda affair’ shows how the Roma population has been stigmatized at a time when borders have different meanings, whether we are talking about financial profits, military armaments, or people.

The demonstrations in Paris were supported by many personalities from the same party as the Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls, who is accused of continuing the inhuman immigration policies of the previous President Sarkozy.

President Hollande promised to overturn some Sarkozy’s policies. He did extend the right to work in France after having completed studies in France. He stopped to stop prosecuting people who help undocumented immigrants. He also said that his government is working to stop the imprisonment of asylum seekers. It is time to change all the policies and to defend the humanistic values that the socialists claim to have.

This debate should not be only about France, or Europe. It has to occur everywhere as the neoliberal free-market order works to destabilize populations throughout the world. Léonarda Dibrani: not French enough, not Kosovar enough? Human enough?


(Photo Credit: Liberation / AFP)

About Brigitte Marti

Brigitte Marti is an organizer researcher who has worked on reproductive rights and women's health initiatives in France and in the European Union and on women prisoners' issues in the United States. She is a member of Women Included, a new transnational feminist collective, that is part of the Women 7, a coalition that advocates for the inclusion of women's rights in the G7.