EBLUL-France protests to the UN

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Feb 25 21:35:56 UTC 2005

EBLUL-France protests to the UN over everyday linguistic discrimination in
the French state
Bruxelles / Brussels 2/25/2005 , by Davyth Hicks

The French committee of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages
(EBLUL) intervened in Geneva on Wednesday during the 66th session of the
Committee for the Elimination of all the forms of Racial Discrimination
(CERD), part of the UN, in order to protest about discrimination suffered
by the speakers of the various minoritised languages under the French

Speaking to the press EBLUL-France said: "France is varied. But the French
state continues to deny this diversity officially. It does not recognize
the same rights [as it does to monoglot French speaking citizens] to the
various cultural expressions, and in particular to the languages, which
constitute the expression of many citizens in various areas, as it does to
monoglot French speaking citizens.

"This policy results in particular in the refusal to ratify the European
Charter of the Regional or Minority Languages. Thus for example, Basque,
Catalan, and Occitan are co-official in Spain or Italy but are very far
from gaining any official support in France, none more so than Breton, the
sister language of Welsh, Cornish and Scottish Gaelic, which are
recognized in the United Kingdom.

"This refusal to protect this living inheritance is leading to the
disappearance of these languages in France, which itself claims to support
worldwide linguistic diversity."

The Regional Council of Brittany, represented by its Vice-President
responsible for European and international relations, Kristian
Guyonvarc'h, intervened to support the step taken by the French Committee
so that France recognizes and protects juridically its regional or
minority languages.

He underlined the obstacles which various French state policies present to
the implementation by the Regional Council of its plan for linguistic
policy to promote the three languages of Brittany and general
plurilingualism, voted on December 17th, 2004, and passed unanimously.

The delegation submitted its report to the committee of experts of the
CERD, simultaneously with representatives of Berber, the French League for
Human Rights, and the European Centre for Roma rights. All these NGOs were
supported by the International Federation of Human Rights.

The event follows uproar at the publication of French Government research
which attempts to deter parents from teaching their children minoritised
indigneous languages, referred to as "patois", and immigrant languages,
saying that to do so will make their children "delinquent" and lead to
"undesirable behaviour". (Eurolang  2005)


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