The story of how France abandoned its Afghan interpreters


A book just published in France details the tragic story of how hundreds of interpreters employed by the French army during its operations in Afghanistan were refused safe sanctuary after it pulled out of the country, abandoning them and their families to threats of retaliation by the Taliban and other groups. While France is not the only country previously engaged in Afghanistan to have subsequently betrayed its interpreters – called tarjuman in the Dari language – the investigation by journalists Brice Andlauer and Quentin Müllern offers a rare insight into the hypocrisy and cynicism of governments, far removed and insensitive to those involved in waging their war on the ground. Mediapart publishes here a telling extract from their book Tarjuman, une trahison française (‘Tarjuman, a French betrayal’).

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The French army was deployed in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014, alongside an international coalition of armed forces that first entered the country to combat Taliban and al-Qaeda in the weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.