RESEARCH – They served alongside the French army during the Afghanistan campaign and yet France is reluctant to give them visas if they are threatened with death in their country. They are the former interpreters of the French army, subject of a book published this week. We met Quentin Muller, co-author of "Tarjuman, a French betrayal".
– Amandine Rebourg
For years they worked together with the French army in Afghanistan, sometimes with weapons against the Taliban. In the front line of this conflict, former Afghan interpreters of the French army are now threatened with death in their country and regarded as traitors. After three transfer waves, some of them could obtain visas, others took the road of exile and sometimes lived in France without paper, under the threat of expulsion.
Condemned several times in this case, the French state is reluctant to investigate the issue, which is not a priority for the ministries involved, the Quai d & # 39; Orsay, the interior and the armed forces. During his election campaign in 2017, Emmanuel Macron had promised not to reproduce the history of the harki's with these Afghan men. However, the state remains the argument & # 39; internal security & # 39; Waving to refuse certain visas, the records of these men & # 39; opaque and random & # 39; to sort and seems to set quotas for home.
Two journalists, Quentin Muller and Brice Andlauer, have investigated this issue to write a book, "Tarjuman, a French betrayal", which means interpreter in Dari language. An investigative book that shows how France dealt with this issue, from inter-ministerial meetings in Paris to the borders of the Afghan valleys.
LCI – What caused this survey?
Quentin Muller – I saw a picture of interpreters who protested before the French embassy in Kabul in 2017, on Twitter. It was given the title "Afghan interpreters left by the French army". I wondered how it was possible for France to reproduce what happened to the harkis.
I was seduced by the subject and I contacted Caroline Decroix, Vice President of the Afghan Interpreters Association of the French Army. I immediately felt that it was a symbolic story. I chained the interviews with interpreters, in Germany, Afghanistan, France, I had many different issues, I wrote articles on this subject for different media. When I saw that my papers were lost in the news, I told myself that it was necessary to make a book.
LCI – Which obstacles have you faced?
There were a number of fairly classic obstacles: the departments sent the ball back to them with the announcement that they no longer carried out the case. A lot of language from some politicians who spoke to us and thought they did a great job. Some politicians refused to talk to us, so we tried to approach them differently. We never had the slightest answer, they did not want to talk about it. Few people want to talk about it in the end. And then some people were not even aware of this matter. There is a lot of indifference and ignorance about this topic. Eventually we got news from people who were angry with these men.
LCI – In your book you quote a French soldier who helped one of his former Afghan interpreters in France …
In the army there have been isolated cases of soldiers who have mobilized for their interpreters to help them at their level. This is rare because it can be seen as an insubordination from the point of view of the hierarchy. They are few to keep in touch with them. At the time, between 2001 and 2014, Facebook was not so developed, applications like WhatsApp also … It was more complicated.
LCI – In an interview with world, published on Wednesday, defends a source of the Ministry of Armed Forces the work of the ministry, explains that it is "very difficult to make contact with the former civilian personnel", while "delays and administrative complications" are recognized. What to think?
That it is a huge masquerade. These items are given by someone who does not know the record. They communicated about these elements, especially after they had seen the publications in the press and followed the two defeats before the Council of State. They wanted to communicate in order to drown the fish through a communication that has not been moved and continues to express doubts about "internal security & # 39; They explain that some have not gone to the convocation in Islamabad, in fact, if some did not show up because they could not afford it.
They announce the creation of a mailbox that is dedicated to the interpreters. This mailbox is a request that dates from 2017 and was formulated by Caroline Decroix, after the attack by one of the interpreters. She had asked the Ministry of Defense to create a permanent mailbox so that the interpreters could submit their applications and explain why they were in danger. Except that this mailbox was not created because, according to the ministry, there were "technical impossibilities". If this happened, it is the first time that the armies communicate live with the artists. An e-mail that needs to be emphasized opens after the third relocation process that ended last December …