Macron apologises to Algerians who fought with French colonisers

France”s President Emmanuel Macron has apologised to Algerians who fought alongside French colonial forces in Algeria’s war for independence and were then massacred and ostracised as traitors.

Around 200,000 Harkis — so the contingent was known — fought against their compatriots in the 1954-1962 conflict, and tens of thousands were killed after the French withdrawal.

Those who made it to France were placed in camps, and many were denied access to school and other rights.

“I ask your forgiveness,” Macron told them and their descendants during a speech at the Élysée Palace, in Paris, on Monday.

“We will continue to bandage the wounds as long as they haven’t healed through words of truth.

“That is why the government will present a bill aimed at inscribing recognition and reparations in the marble of our laws,” he said.

When a tearful woman in the audience interrupted him, Macron tried to calm her down: “I hear you”, he told her, calling for a joint reconciliation effort.

Only in 1999 did France officially admit that the eight-year conflict that ended 132 years of French rule in Algeria was a war.

The actual number of Algerians who died in it and its aftermath is unknown, as many were never identified.

In 2018, Macron’s government pledged €40 million for the Harkis and their children via pensions and other forms of aid.

His predecessors, presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, respectively acknowledged the state’s failings towards them in 2016 and 2012.

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