Comité de liaison (CLAN-R)

Lettre adressée par le président du Clan au New York Times

samedi 21 mars 2009

Suite à un article extrêmement peu honnête à l’égard des Rapatriés paru dans le New York Times du 5 mars 2009, sous le titre "Guerre de mémoires...", le président du CLAN a adressé à ce journal, lu dans le monde entier, la lettre ci-dessous :

Président de la Fédération "Comité de Liaison des Associations Nationales de Rapatriés"
Maison des Rapatriés -7, rue Pierre Girard
75019 - Paris (France)

March 9, 2009

Letter to the Editor of The New York Times

Re : « In France a War of Memories over memories of War » by Michael Kimmelman


I have read the March 5 article by Michel Kimmelman with great interest. As president of the French Federation of National Associations of Reptariated Citizens (Comité de Liaison des Associations Nationales de Rapatriés, see my CV below) I would like to offer a few comments on the content of Mr. Kimmelman’s article :

1 – In discussing Algeria before 1962 one must separate the decisions made by the many French governments in the course of 132 years of French presence from the actions of the population that inlcuded Berbers, Arabs, Jews from North Africa and Europeans. The non-Muslim population numbered almost 1.5 million people in 1962 among the 8.5 million Muslims all having different opinions but for the most part voting to the left of center.

2 – By independence in July 1962 while the country remained partly underdeveloped it had reached the economic level of Spain. The inequalities that existed were decided and maintained in force and effect by the French governments and by major corporate interests located in metropolitan France, they were not the fact of the « pieds noirs ». The « pieds noirs » were mostly poor and in many cases had not have the opportunity to access even basic education. Nobel prize winner Albert Camus, for example, was born to a family of illiterates.

3 – Most Berber and Arab populations of Algeria were unhappy to see the « pieds noirs » leave the country in 1962. In spite of the horrors, hatred never replaced the strong ties that remain to this day among the various populations.

4 – There were twice as many Arab and Berber soldiers fighting with the French Army than with the FLN. Militarily the FLN had effectively lost the war by 1961. The reason why General De Gaulle —knowing the policy he expected to follow —continued the war for four years from 1958 to 1962 remains obscure.

5 – The independance of Algeria was a bungled affair. No French government could have reached a more disastrous settlement of the « Algerian problem » as the 1962 Evian Agreements. Instead of transparency and consultaion of all populations and tendencies De Gaulle’s government decided to keep on fighting the war. At independeance in 1962 the Muslim Harkis who were part of the French Army were told to lay down their weapons and were effectively abandoned to be massacred in Algeria. Some 150 000 were killed in horrible conditions often with their entire families, while at the same time, hundred and hundred of civilians and soldiers were kidnapped and killed : some 3,000 civilians and around 700 French soldiers are still considered to be missing.

6 – Those like Dr. Stora who chalk the effort to remember as « nostalgia » should realize that the « pieds noirs » and Harkis who did survive the ordeal are entitled to their memory just as much as the surviors of any effort at extermination : from the Armenians to the Holocaust and the victims of the Khmer Rouge. The « pieds noirs » and Harkis empathize and feel deep solidarity with all those victims and survivors and their efforts to preserve the memory. As for Algeria there remains for all of us the unshakable attachement to the land and the people who are still living there and where so many generations – five or six of them —are still buried.


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