French State’s Late Confessions, Compensation For The Harkis
Confessions by the French authorities for the victims of their practices during the colonial era in Algeria continued, as this time the awakening came too late for their agents. After many of those affected by its inhumane practices died, the reference here is to the “Harkis” and their families, whom France gathered in brutal camps on its territories when they left Algeria after independence.
After more than sixty years of waiting, the French government approved what it called the “Nation’s Recognition Law towards the Harkis”, according to which it works to expand the list of beneficiaries of the right to compensation, following the report submitted by an “independent committee”, that was specially established for that purpose, to the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne on Monday, May 15, 2023.
The French government’s decision stipulated the inclusion of 45 camps proposed by the committee in the list of structures that may lead to compensation, based on the law of February 23, 2022, related to the French state’s recognition of the Harkis, as stated in the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron on September 20, 2021.
The number of those concerned with compensation reaches 14,000 additional people, after their residence in one of these sites that lacked the minimum conditions of human dignity, while the census process is continuing.
The French authorities did not treat Harkis humanely, and even those who served it lived in miserable and dramatic conditions, without benefiting from recognition. After signing the cease-fire agreement on March 19, 1962, the French occupation army refused to evacuate them via ships that were transporting French soldiers and hordes of Pieds-Noirs, and there were Harkis who fled to join French soil with their families, but they faced French ingratitude for what they offered them, as they lived in “ghettoes” that lacked the most basic human dignity.
Harkis’ camps were established between 1964 and 1981 in regions in the far south of France and others in the far north (Lille region), and they were completely isolated from French society, and deprived of the most basic rights, such as education, care and the right to work, which led to the formation of the Harkis’ sons, which are armed groups against the French cops demanding their rights and the rights of their families, and clashes took place with the police services, during which victims were killed, as stated in a documentary recently broadcast on a French TV channel.
During that period from 1964 to 1981, hundreds of young children died due to lack of health care and were buried in irregular graves, and their graves today are unknown and deserted because the camps, where these graves were located, were evacuated after the later recognition of the rights of the Harkis and their families, and they were moved to live in cities on the side of the French people.
After the statistical and study operations, the French authorities decided to compensate approximately 7071 cases, while the average compensation was estimated at 8800 euros, out of the total amount allocated for the operation, which is estimated at 59.1 million euros, with the commitment of the French government to initiate work to maintain and restore those abandoned graves as a first stage.
The committee also proposed 45 new (camps) sites eligible for compensation, and the government agreed to include them in the list of structures that grant the right to compensation, and camps that were not selected, which will be reported later or that require additional research, will be the subject of new expertise and a website was created for the progress of this process.
The lesson in this tragic scene lies in the fact that colonial France deceived a group of Algerians, to stand with it against their people, and when the time came for the fulfilment, the Harkis discovered which party was their real and actual enemy who exploited them before showing ingratitude and denial, and this is usually the case and the end for those who raised arms in the face of their brothers to serve the interests of their enemies.