Afghan migrant shocked by French police beating

"I am an Afghan citizen, and my name is Murtaza."

When Murtaza Khademi left his home in Afghanistan and smuggled himself into France, he did so hoping to escape violence in his homeland.

However, he says he found himself in a situation in a central Parisian square this week that was far from the safe haven he'd dreamed of.

An operation, which he says, resulted in him being beaten with batons by French police.

"Yesterday we set up tents there, but then something terrible happened; the police arrived and starting beating people. Although the French people supported and protected the immigrants, which we are grateful for, the police also beat them. The police forces had no mercy. We thought they were humane people, but unlike ordinary people (of France), they are not like that at all."

Khademi and dozens of other migrants and asylum seekers had pitched the tents as part of an organized protest - intended to attract attention to their precarious living conditions.

But police in riot gear moved in to disperse them.

"French people and the other migrants witnessed the police beating me inside my tent. The police forces even beat me with their baton." (…) “I have nothing with me because when we were escaping from the police, my belongings remained in the tent."

Many ordinary French people were supportive, he said, but the police were hostile.

"When I see behavior like that, I feel like I am in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran because those countries' police treat people the same way. I even feel that the French police treated us like the Taliban and Islamic State. My body still trembles when I remember last night's incident."

Originally from northern Afghanistan, Murtaza traveled through Pakistan, Iran, and the Balkans to reach France.

He now says he has no other choice but to stay in the city and endure the situation on the streets.

Video Transcript

MURTAZA KHADEMI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I am an Afghan citizen. And my name is Murtaza.

- When Murtaza Khademi left his home in Afghanistan and smuggled himself into France, he did so hoping to escape the violence in his homeland. However, he says he found himself in a situation in a central Parisian square this week that was far from the safe haven he'd dreamt of, an operation which he says resulted in him being beaten with batons by French police.

MURTAZA KHADEMI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: Yesterday we set up tents there. But then something terrible happened. The police arrived and started beating people. Although the French people supported and protected the immigrants, which we're grateful for, the police also beat them.

The police forces had no mercy. We thought they were humane people. But unlike ordinary people, they're not like that at all.

- Khademi and dozens of other migrants and asylum seekers had pitched their tents as part of an organized protest intended to attract attention to their precarious living conditions. But police in riot gear moved in to disperse them.

MURTAZA KHADEMI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The French people and the other migrants witnessed the police beating me inside my tent. The police forces even beat me with their baton. I have nothing with me, because when we were escaping from the police, my belongings remained in the tent.

- Many ordinary French people were supportive, he said, but the police were hostile.

MURTAZA KHADEMI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: When I see behavior like that, I feel like I'm in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran, because those countries' police treat people the same way. I even feel that the French police treated us like the Taliban and Islamic State. My body still trembles when I remember last night's incidents.

- Originally from northern Afghanistan, Murtaza traveled through Pakistan, Iran, and the Balkans to reach France. He now says he has no other choice but to stay in the city and endure the situation on the streets.