A group of children from Reunion Island on the East African coast demanded an apology from the French government. They were “taken away” by French authorities in the 1960s and 1970s and moved to the French countryside. Parents are often made false promises. After arriving in France, children are sometimes declared orphaned or given new identities.
“We are now 50 years late. No government has done anything for us. Now is the time to apologize,” Inel Annette said.He is a member interest group It was founded by the children of that era.
They have hired the French national inspector. It’s too late for legal proceedings: the facts are out of date. But an apology and possible compensation should take away some pain.
From the study Between 1962 and 1984, the French authorities collected more than 2,000 children from Reunion Island, which is France’s overseas department. Almost all children are under 15; there are also babies and toddlers.
The island was very poor and overcrowded. In the French countryside 9,000 kilometers away, there are too few people. This is the reason for the idea of moving children in Paris. They have to get rid of the “weak” environment; at the same time, the French countryside will also gain new momentum.
But Reunion’s parents are often deceived. For example, children can go home once a year, but it never happens.
“I myself was sent on the plane with the three sisters. I was not told anything, nor did I get any explanation,” Annette said. “I was nine years old at the time. In order to persuade my mother to send her child away, the French authorities gave her a chicken.”
Hidden for decades
Annette (65) called it kidnapping. “I was taken from my mother, from the island where I was born, and from my sister once in France. You can say a lot, but that was kidnapping.”
As soon as I arrived in France, the problem came. There are testimonies of children who were almost arranged to be slaves on the farm.There are also stories about Abuse and abuseThe supervision by the French authorities is insufficient.
For decades, the story of the children of Reunion Island has been covered up in France. The children themselves are often told their true identity and background. A long time later, people also knew that they were not alone, and more than 2,000 children were taken away from Reunion Island.
It was not until 2014, half a century after the start of the operation, that the French Parliament passed a resolution acknowledging that a mistake was made. Then an investigative committee was formed, which contained a large number of reports and painful facts. But none of the previous governments took any action.
Children, especially their interest groups, are no longer satisfied with this. They hired a lawyer and submitted a document to the inspector. They want the government and President Macron to take responsibility.
“We have felt guilty as children for a long time,” Annette explained. “We think we did something wrong and that’s why we were taken away from Reunion Island. If we apologize, the government will show that we don’t have to feel guilty.”
The association has made a breakthrough. A memorial stone will be unveiled at Orly Airport near Paris in late summer, where the children landed. A minister will also attend the unveiling ceremony. Annette said: “It finally feels like being recognized.”