the children of harkis unconvinced by the reparations proposed by the State

“My personal story, it’s horrible“. Larbi Bouzaboun, son of harki, was one year old when he arrived in France with his parents, just after the Algerian war in 1962. His father, engaged with the French army, had been injured in the fighting. Upon their arrival in the metropolis, they were quickly placed in a “transit camp” in Bias, in Lot-et-Garonne, “that of the irrecoverable“, notes Larbi.

I grew up in a camp, a real concentration camp“, he says, still scarred. “There were barbed wire, fences with bullying, a paid shower per week, lights out at the whim of the director“, he still remembers. He was also sent for two years to a recovery camp for young people in Nièvre, far from his parents, “it was horrible“.

Same difficult memories for Yamina, daughter of harki, who arrived after the repatriations, in 1966. With his parents, they were in a camp in Manosque, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. “I spent a decade inside a reserve, in a vacuum, out of sight“, she details. She describes a daily life “cut off from the world, without a white man inside, only natives among themselves, unlimited alcohol, it was very hard.

Living in these camps, in undignified conditions, “it deprived us of freedom, of equal opportunity“, says Yamina, who was only at the school of the Republic at 12 years old. A year ago, on September 21, 2021, Emmanuel Macron asked “sorry“to the harkis, grateful”an abandonment of the French Republic” upon their arrival. A few months later, a law of recognition and reparation was signed in February 2022, providing for a compensation scheme for the Harkis and their families.

But a year after this speech, this answer is still struggling to pass among many children of harkis. Larbi Bouzaboun hesitated for a long time before embarking on the compensation procedure. “I didn’t want to do it, it took me a bit of time, but afterwards, I said to myself, it’s always taken“, he says. The law provides for 3,000 euros per year spent in a camp, plus 1,000 euros for each additional year. But the total sum cannot exceed 16,000 euros. These amounts are one of the reasons for their anger.

“It’s really not up to par at all. It’s even outright spitting in the face, it’s contempt. He talks about a repair, but it’s not a repair. That’s is assistantship.”

Larbi Bouzaboun, son of Harki

at franceinfo

Some harkis also denounce the discriminatory nature of these reparations. Of the 90 000 harkis and their families who arrived in France, between 40 000 and 50 000 are entitled to this compensation. Those who passed in 89 reception facilities defined by law, including the six transit camps and numerous forestry hamlets, where harkis were employed to work in the forests. “It should not be forgotten that other children of harkis did not live in the camps, but in cities in town“, notes André Azni, also son of harkis, and president of the association Les harkis and their friends.

They suffered enormously, even more, because they were facing Algerians. It is unacceptable for this government to discriminate“, he insists. He too denounces this device, “it’s an insult, not commensurate with the damage suffered“.”Never has an army behaved like this! Our parents loved France, we love France, why are we treated like that?“, he gets angry, claiming compensation of 50,000 euros. “Emmanuel Macron does not have the will to repair the harkis, it is not sincere.”

Grievances heard, and understood by the Independent National Commission for the Recognition and Reparation of the Damage Suffered by the Harkis, installed in the spring with Matignon. “It won’t be jnever sufficient to the extent where the damage they have experienced, in essence, does not come under ‘compensation’. But it’s not insulting.” replies Jean-Marie Bockel, former minister and chairman of this commission. It is she who validates claims for compensation, after the files have been examined by the National Office Veterans and War Victims (ONACVG).

“It’s a strong gesture, it’s proof of love. It’s also symbolic.”

Jean-Marie Bockel

at franceinfo

We’re about 21 000 applications filed. At the end of September, we will have processed nearly 3,000 files, which is still not bad in a few months“, notes Jean-Marie Bockel. 500 files are studied each month, the average amount of compensation is around 8,000 euros.

Some are also awaiting a decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), seized in 2019 by the Tamazount brothers, two sons of harkis, to condemn France on this issue. They believe that the recent reparation law was intended to put an end to this procedure. In 2018, they had already ordered the State to pay them 15,000 euros for the damages suffered.

This Sunday, September 25, France celebrates the National Day of homage to harkis and other members of auxiliary formations. Ceremonies are planned everywhere in France. This will be the case in Paris, in the courtyard of the Invalides.

The children of harkis disappointed by the reparations proposed by the State – The report by Benjamin Recouvreur

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