Macron apologizes for French treatment of Algerian Harki fighters

Macron apologizes for French treatment of Algerian Harki fighters
1 / 3
Emmanuel Macron, Legion of Honour recipient Salah Abdelkrim, left, and General Francois Meyer, who played a prominent role in the repatriation of Harkis, Elysee Palace, Paris, Sept. 20, 2021. (AP Photo)
Macron apologizes for French treatment of Algerian Harki fighters
2 / 3
French president Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a ceremony in memory of the Harkis, Algerians who helped the French Army in the Algerian War of Independence, on Sept. 20, 2021. (AFP)
Macron apologizes for French treatment of Algerian Harki fighters
3 / 3
A Harki veteran during a ceremony marking the National Day of Homage to the Harkis, Algerians who fought alongside French troops in the Algerian War of Independence. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 20 September 2021

Macron apologizes for French treatment of Algerian Harki fighters

Macron apologizes for French treatment of Algerian Harki fighters
  • The French government left the loyalist fighters known as Harkis to fend for themselves, despite earlier promises that it would look after them
  • Macron has already spoken out on a number of France’s unresolved colonial legacies, including nuclear testing in Polynesia, its role in the Rwandan genocide and war crimes in Algeria

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday asked “forgiveness” on behalf of his country for abandoning Algerians who fought alongside France in their country’s war of independence.
More than 200,000 Algerians fought with the French army in the war that pitted Algerian independence fighters against their French colonial masters from 1954 to 1962.
At the end of the war — waged on both sides with extreme brutality, including widespread torture — the French government left the loyalist fighters known as Harkis to fend for themselves, despite earlier promises that it would look after them.
Trapped in Algeria, many were massacred as the country’s new masters took brutal revenge.
Thousands of others who escaped to France were interned in camps, often with their families, in degrading and traumatising conditions.
“I want to express our gratitude to the fighters,” Macron said at a ceremony at the Elysee Palace attended by around 300 people, mostly surviving Harkis and their families.
“I’m asking for forgiveness. We will not forget,” Macron said, adding that France had “failed in its duty toward the Harkis, their wives, their children.”
The centrist president, who has been tackling some of the darker chapters of France’s colonial past, said the government would draft a law on the recognition of the state’s responsibility toward Harkis and the need for “reparation.”
His speech was interrupted several times by hecklers, with one woman in the audience accusing Macron of “making empty promises.”
Previous French presidents had already begun owning up to the betrayal of the Algerian Muslim fighters.
Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande in 2016 accepted “the responsibilities of French governments in the abandonment of the Harkis.”
The meeting came days before national Harki day, which has been observed since 2003 — especially in southern France where many of the surviving fighters settled after the war.
Their political sympathies often lie with the nationalist right whose leader, Marine Le Pen, is the frontrunner among Macron’s rivals in France’s presidential election next spring.
Authorities have in the past allowed a number of legal procedures to go ahead for the Harkis and their families to claim damages from France.
Ahead of the ceremony, Harki organizations had demanded an official recognition of their treatment to be enshrined in a law by the end of the year.
“We hope that you will be the one to end 60 years of a certain hypocrisy by which the abandoning of the Harkis is recognized in speeches, but not in the law,” they said in an open letter to Macron.
Macron’s initiative comes over a year after he tasked historian Benjamin Stora with assessing how France has dealt with its colonial legacy in Algeria.
The report, submitted in January, made a series of recommendations, including owning up to the murder of a prominent Algerian independence figure and creating a “memory and truth commission.”
Macron has already spoken out on a number of France’s unresolved colonial legacies, including nuclear testing in Polynesia, its role in the Rwandan genocide and war crimes in Algeria.
Before the end of his mandate he is expected to attend ceremonies marking the anniversaries of two key events still weighing on French-Algerian relations.
One is the brutal repression of a demonstration of Algerians on October 17, 1961, by Paris police who beat protesters to death or drowned them in the river Seine, and the other is a signing of the Evian accords on March 18, 1962, which ended the war of independence.


Nigeria confirms first cases of omicron among travelers from South Africa

Nigeria confirms first cases of omicron among travelers from South Africa
Updated 6 sec ago

Nigeria confirms first cases of omicron among travelers from South Africa

Nigeria confirms first cases of omicron among travelers from South Africa
  • Determined from retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases among travelers to Nigeria
ABUJA: Nigeria confirmed its first cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant among two travelers who arrived from South Africa last week, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Wednesday.
The NCDC said retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases among travelers to Nigeria had also identified the variant among a sample collected in October.

Malaysia bans travelers from countries deemed at risk from omicron

Malaysia bans travelers from countries deemed at risk from omicron
Updated 16 min 2 sec ago

Malaysia bans travelers from countries deemed at risk from omicron

Malaysia bans travelers from countries deemed at risk from omicron

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will temporarily ban the entry of travelers from countries that have reported the omicron coronavirus variant or are considered high-risk, its health ministry said on Wednesday.
It will also delay plans to set up so-called Vaccinated Travel Lanes with those countries, minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters.


Beijing wanted to ‘break’ Australia – US Indo-Pacific adviser

China’s preference would have been to break Australia. (Shutterstock)
China’s preference would have been to break Australia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 December 2021

Beijing wanted to ‘break’ Australia – US Indo-Pacific adviser

China’s preference would have been to break Australia. (Shutterstock)
  • ‘China’s preference would have been to break Australia. To drive Australia to its knees’

SYDNEY: China is conducting “dramatic economic warfare” against Australia and has tried to “break” the US ally, contributing to increased anxiety about Beijing in the region, the White House’s Indo Pacific coordinator, Kurt Campbell, said in a speech to a Sydney think tank on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden raised the treatment of Australia, which has been subject to trade reprisals by Beijing, in his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping as an example of behavior that was backfiring because Xi’s advisers were not providing effective feedback, Campbell told the Lowy Institute foreign policy institute.
“China’s preference would have been to break Australia. To drive Australia to its knees,” Campbell said.
Campbell underlined the United States’ commitment to new security and economic alliances in the Indo Pacific, including the defense technology pact with Australia and Britain, known as AUKUS, and the Quad of India, Japan, US and Australia.
These groups would also focus on technology, education, climate and pandemic cooperation, to show the US was bringing value to Asia, he said.
“The United States is not leaving the Indo-Pacific, and we’re not in decline,” he said, adding there appeared to be a belief among “ideological advisers around President Xi that somehow the United States is in this hurtling decline.”
Beijing’s lack of communication over its build up of nuclear deterrent capabilities, hypersonic and anti-satellite systems was of concern to the US, he said, calling them “practices, that, if they continue, run risks of triggering an unforeseen crisis, or a misunderstanding.”
The US was seeking dialogue on the issue, he said, and had told Beijing it wanted competition that was conducted peacefully.


More than third of world has never used Internet: UN

In this photo taken on March 6, 2020, primary school teacher Billy Yeung edits a video lesson he recorded in an empty classroom in Hong Kong. (AFP)
In this photo taken on March 6, 2020, primary school teacher Billy Yeung edits a video lesson he recorded in an empty classroom in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2021

More than third of world has never used Internet: UN

In this photo taken on March 6, 2020, primary school teacher Billy Yeung edits a video lesson he recorded in an empty classroom in Hong Kong. (AFP)
  • The number of users globally grew by more than 10 percent in the first year of the Covid crisis — by far the largest annual increase in a decade

GENEVA: Some 2.9 billion people — 37 percent of the world’s population — have still never used the Internet, the United Nations said Tuesday, despite the Covid-19 pandemic driving people online.
The UN’s International Telecommunication Union estimated that 96 percent of those 2.9 billion live in developing countries.
The agency said the estimated number of people who have gone online rose from 4.1 billion in 2019 to 4.9 billion this year, partially due to a “Covid connectivity boost.”
But even among those Internet users, many hundreds of millions might only go online infrequently, using shared devices or facing connection speeds that hamper their Internet use.
“ITU will work to make sure the building blocks are in place to connect the remaining 2.9 billion. We are determined to ensure no one will be left behind,” said ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao.
The number of users globally grew by more than 10 percent in the first year of the Covid crisis — by far the largest annual increase in a decade.
The ITU cited measures such as lockdowns, school closures and the need to access services like remote banking.
But the growth has been uneven. Internet access is often unaffordable in poorer nations — almost three-quarters of people have never been online in the 46 least-developed countries.
Younger people, men and urbanites are more likely to use the Internet than older adults, women and those in rural areas, with the gender gap more pronounced in developing nations.
Poverty, illiteracy, limited electricity access and a lack of digital skills continue to challenge the “digitally excluded,” the ITU added.


US expected to toughen testing requirement for travelers

US expected to toughen testing requirement for travelers
Updated 01 December 2021

US expected to toughen testing requirement for travelers

US expected to toughen testing requirement for travelers
  • Among the policies being considered is a requirement that all air travelers to the US be tested for COVID-19 within a day of boarding their flight

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is expected to take steps in the coming days to toughen testing requirements for international travelers to the US, including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, amid the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The precise testing protocols were still being finalized ahead of a speech by President Joe Biden planned for Thursday on the nation's plans to control the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter season, according to a senior administration official who said some details could still change. Among the policies being considered is a requirement that all air travelers to the US be tested for COVID-19 within a day of boarding their flight. Currently those who are fully vaccinated may present a test taken within three days of boarding.
“CDC is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's plans before the announcement, said options under consideration also include post-arrival testing requirements or or even self-quarantines.
The expected move comes just weeks after the US largely reopened its borders to fully vaccinated foreign travelers on Nov. 8.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, which has been identified in more than 20 countries but not yet in the US, including whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said more would be known about the omicron strain in two to four weeks as scientists grow and test lab samples of the virus.
As he sought to quell public concern about the new variant, Biden said that in his Thursday remarks, “I’ll be putting forward a detailed strategy outlining how we’re going to fight COVID this winter -- not with shutdowns or lockdowns but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and more.”
Asked by reporters if he would consult with allies about any changes in travel rules, given that former President Donald Trump had caught world leaders by surprise, Biden said: “Unlike Trump I don’t shock our allies.”