"Harkis": the forgotten figures of Algerian-French history

Following 132 years as a French colony, Algeria won its independence in 1962, after a bloody war which began in 1954. On one side, the rebels were fighting for Algeria no longer to be French sovereign territory. On the other side were the French military, upholding the interests of the hundreds of French colonists who had lived in Algeria for generations, and claimed the land as their own. After 8 years of war, torture and death on both sides, France recognised Algeria's independence through the Évian Accords. Among the many wounds that the agreement failed to heal, those of the so-called harkis remain open.

Harkis is the name given to the Algerians who collaborated with the French Government during the colonial era (as public officials, workers at French companies…) or during the fighting. The name is derived from the Arabic word haraka, which means movement, but in colloquial speech is synonymous with traitor.

After independence, many harkis were tried, and even murdered by former combatants in Algeria. Tens of thousands of harkis also went into exile in France, where they were housed, stateless to some extent, in refugee camps. Abandoned by France and rejected by Algeria, that is how Alice Zeniter depicted the problems of integration and recognition of the harkis and their descendants in her book El arte de perder.

In September 2021, France's President Macron, after apologising for this abandonment, promised a law offering reparations to a group who had been unjustly neglected for decades.

2-les harkis

Film:Les Harkis