The mysterious death of detained 23-year-old Albanian asylum seeker, Florenc Beqiraj, has triggered outrage in his home country, and highlights the precarious lives of many migrants.
23-year-old Albanian Florenc Beqiraj was declared dead on December 24 in a hospital in Marseille, France, after hospital staff are reported to have taken him off life support without his family's consent.
Beqiraj was detained on November 27 and was facing deportation. According to local French media outlet, Le Provence, his deportation date was set for December 15.
Twenty-four hours before that deadline, he was admitted to hospital with what Albania media report were strangulation marks on his neck and abrasive marks on his wrists.
Albanians demand answers
Beqiraj's family is seeking an immediate autopsy and have called on French authorities to release all security camera footage from the detention centre where he was being held.
Anger has also been directed towards Albanian authorities, who critics say have shown little interest in the welfare of their own citizens.
Albanian politicians have said that the issue should not be "politicised" fearing that any comments seen as embarrassing to French authorities may have ramifications for Albania's aspirations to join the EU.
Local activists in the Albanian capital, Tirana, protested outside the French Embassy after Beqiraj's death.
The 23 year old had gone to France seeking a better life. He was apprehended by French police without papers and sent to a detainment camp awaiting deportation.
At the time of his death, Beqiraj had been in France for three years and was not known to have any criminal record.
Protests against far-right sentiment
Many Albanians on social media have also expressed anger at what they say has been a lack of transparency from French authorities and what they see as increasing anti-Albanian sentiment in France.
Earlier this year French far-right leader, Marie Le Pen, used anti-Albanian rhetoric to rally her supporters during her campaign for the presidency.
Terms such as "
#JusticeForFlorencBeqiraj" and "Florenc Beqiraj" have been used thousands of times on social media platforms.
A group calling itself 'Anonymous Albania', which told TRT World it has links to the 'Anonymous' hackers' collective, has taken down the official website of the French National Police in protest.
As of the time of writing on Tuesday, the website was still down.
#SOS! A question to every doctor on 'Hippocratic Oath'. Last night in a French Hospital, Florenc Beqiraj's life (23 yrs) was taken by unplugging the oxygen wires w/o notice, w/o consent of his family. He was from a week in coma due to prison violence! #HumanRightsViolation#AL#FR pic.twitter.com/4d9fmmx1MG— Elda Gjoka (@eldagjoka) December 23, 2017
Death of Florenc Beqiraj, #Albanian asylum seeker detained in the French prison has sparked public outrage in Albania. Critics blame the entire political class as well as EU's discrimination towards Albanians.— Alida Karakushi (@alidea29) December 23, 2017
He was killed in a French prison,yet they claim it was suicide.He was a hardworking innocent asylum seeker not a dangerous criminal,it was completely wrong for Florenc to be placed in a penal institution for him to be murdered. Albanian Twitter wya. #justiceforflorencbeqiraj https://t.co/H8G29k8FdB— 💼 (@elzabakolli_) December 21, 2017
#justiceforflorencbeqiraj Florenc was beaten to death by french prison guards, then he was unplugged from his life support machine without consent. we want justice for Florenc and every other albanian being beaten by prison guards. EU countries discriminate against albanians.— alba 🇦🇱 (@albadajko) December 25, 2017
Following a trend?
The number of Albanians seeking asylum in France has grown sharply in recent years. In 2016 alone, more than 5,700 Albanians reportedly sought asylum in France.
France opened its first migrant camp that met international standards in 2016, following outcry over inhumane conditions at the 'Jungle', a makeshift camp in Calais that refugees built for themselves after neglect by authorities.
French police would later clear that camp and burn it down.
The death of Beqiraj has highlighted the treatment of many migrants in France.
A report by Human Rights Watch highlighted that at least 600 migrants were abused by French police at the Calais camp.
Julian Karagueuzian, coordinator for the Refugee Forum – a local organisation working towards the humane treatment of immigrants in the French detention system – has described conditions at the camp Beqiraj was being held at as a "pressure cooker," and liable to explode due to overcrowding and understaffing.
The plight of migrants in France, and the current political climate on the right, suggests Beqiraj's death will not be the last such tragedy that will go unexplained.