The law to ask “forgiveness” from harkis outrages harkis and their children

” The war [d’Algérie] is over, launched with solemnity in the Hemicycle the deputy of Seine-Saint-Denis Alexis Corbière (La France insoumise, LFI). We must repair the bleeding history and avoid reopening the scars. “ During six hours of debate, Thursday, November 18, some parliamentarians did not forget to list ” the horrors “ of this conflict (1954-1962) by targeting “FLN butchers”. Others took advantage of the discussions to pay tribute to the memory of their blackfoot parents. Then all – and that was the order of the day – paid tribute to their ” friends “ harkis, these combatants engaged in the French army, abandoned with their families by the State the day after the end of war and who were locked up for years in camps, prisons or logging hamlets upon their arrival in France.

Almost sixty years later, the National Assembly considered a bill “relating to the recognition of the Nation and compensation for the prejudices suffered by the harkis”. This text is supposed to support the demand for « pardon » formulated by Emmanuel Macron, on September 20 at the Elysee Palace, who had so surprised these former soldiers and their descendants. To no longer neglect this “Tragedy of a scorned fidelity”, and to pay the ” this “ contracted by the Republic, the president had promised a bill of recognition and reparation.

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But, for many harkis, this historic law, passed at first reading by an almost empty Assembly – less than fifty deputies present – is not up to the task. “We have gone from forgiveness to contempt”, thus protests the journalist Dalila Kerchouche, author of My father, this harki (Seuil, 2003), which denounces a law “Unworthy”.

“It’s a betrayal for us”

To understand what happened in Parliament, you have to go back a few months. On January 20, Benjamin Stora submits to the Head of State his report on “the colonization and the war in Algeria”. The historian suggests “See with the Algerian authorities the possibility of facilitating the movement of harkis and their children between France and Algeria”. A suggestion which arouses incomprehension – because it is already the case in practice – and pushes the harkis to wonder if the president would not seek to put under the carpet of memory their suffering so as not to hinder the reconciliation with the Algerian regime.

To answer these questions, Mr. Macron met, on May 10, at the Elysee Palace, four personalities who carry this memory in their flesh: Dalila Kerchouche, Mohand Hamoumou, son of harkis, former member of the scientific council of the Rivesaltes Memorial, Claire Tassadit-Houd, daughter of harkis and close to the president, and Serge Carel. The testimony of this 84-year-old committed “Touched the heart of the president”, remembers Mme Kerchouche, and finished convincing him that a legislative text was needed to recognize their sacrifices and to repair them ” as much as possible “, recalls the Elysee. At the request of the Head of State, these four people agreed to tell their story during the tribute ceremony to the harkis, on September 20, before the presidential speech.

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The law to ask “forgiveness” from harkis outrages harkis and their children