According to the Algerian documents, between 350,000 and 1.5 million Algerians died during the Algerian War of Independence. Algerians argue that the massacres should be named as genocide and France must apologise to the Algerians. Arab states and many Muslim countries, including Turkey, back the Algerian claims. However the French do not accept the claims. According to the French side, the number of killed Algerian civilians is about 350.000, but not more "France's Alledged Algerian Genocide". French Foreign Ministry responded to Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika's call to France to repent for what France perpetrated in Algeria during the colonial period, by relegating such historical inquiries to historians' "France Left Algerian Genocide to Historians Again"
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said that French colonization of his country was a form of genocide. In memoirs, some French officers have described torture of Algerians during the war. Edouard Sablier, for instance, one of the soldiers who took part in the repression, later described the situation: "Everywhere in the towns there were camps surrounded by barbed wire containing hundreds of suspects who had been arrested… Often, when we set out to inspect an isolated hamlet in the mountains, I heard people say, 'We should punish them by taking away their crops'." A paper called Ohé Partisans, published by the French Trotskyists, described Sétif as an “Algerian Oradour”. Oradour was a French town where the Nazi occupiers had murdered over 600 people, including children..
Some Algerian intellectuals argue that the number of genocide against the Algerian people is not one but many. Prof. Dr. Ali Al-Hail for instance says "French constituted numerous genocides against the Algerians" - The French Definition of 'Genocide'. Similarly, Abdulkerim Gazali, editor of the Algerian newspaper La Tribune, likens France's occupation of an independent and sovereign Algeria to Nazi Germany's occupation of many European countries and claimed this was racism "Algerian Genocide - Algerian History
However France has never accepted its responsibility in tortures and massacres in Algeria. Paris says that the past should be left to historians. French President Jacques Chirac, upon harsh reactions to the law encouraging the good sides of the French colonial history, made the statement, "Writing history is the job of the historians, not of the laws." According to Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, "speaking about the past or writing history is not the job of the parliament."
The Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika said in a speech in Paris on 17 April 2006 that "Colonisation brought the genocide of our identity, of our history, of our language, of our traditions".
Algeria first became a colony of France in 1830. When in 1954 the Algerian people rioted against the French colonial rule, the French dispatched 400,000 troops to pacify the anti-colonial uprising. The French colonial forces launched an air and ground offensive against several eastern cities, particularly Setif and Guelma, in response to anti-French riots. The crackdown lasted several days and according to the Algerian state left 45,000 people dead YouTube Video - "Algerian Genocide by France" European historians put the figure at between 15,000 and 20,000. French attacks continued not only in Algerian territories but in France as well. The Paris massacre of 1961 was the most vivid example: On October 17 the French police attacked an unarmed demonstration of Algerians, who demanded the freedom of their country from French colonial rule. How many demonstrators were killed is still unclear, but estimates range from 32 to 200 people. The incident had not been officially confirmed until 1999. The Algerian newspaper Liberté was seized by the Police on 19 October 1998, presumably in connection of an article about these events.
There were executions and widespread arrests during the War of Independence. "Villages were bombed from the air and a town was shelled from a cruiser at sea. The attacks were more or less random. The point was not so much to punish the original rioters as to teach the whole Muslim population to know their place. Settlers set up their own unofficial death squads and killed hundreds of Muslims. German and Italian prisoners of war were released to take part in the massacre".
As Le Monde Diplomatique put it, "as France celebrated victory in Europe on 8 May 1945, its army was massacring thousands of civilians in Sétif and Guelma - events that were the real beginning of Algeria’s war of independence." Bouteflika also urged the Paris Government to admit its part in the massacres of 45,000 Algerians who took to the streets to demand independence as Europe celebrated victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. French authorities then responded by playing down the comments, urging "mutual respect" French Foreign Minister Barnier told Algeria in an official visit to make a common effort to search history "in order to establish a common future and overcome the sad pages". Giving interview to El Vatan, an Algerian newspaper, Barnier said that "Historians from two sides must be encouraged to work together. They must work on the common past".
After a war which ended in Algeria's independence in 1962, eight million Algerian residents were deprived of French nationality and hundreds of thousands of pieds-noirs (French who settled in Algeria and were re-patriated at the end of the war) were forced "home" to a place which was not home.
Ahmed Ben Bella also argues that the French committed a genocide against the people and Algerian culture: "Algeria's indigenous population was decimated in the early years of French settler colonial rule, falling from over four million in 1830 to less than 2.5 million by 1890. Systematic genocide was coupled with the brutal suppression of Algerian cultural identity. Indigenous Algerians were French subjects, but could only become French citizens if they renounced Islam and Arab culture. A ruthless policy of acculturation followed, and the remaining Algerians were forced to cease speaking their native Arabic and use the French of their colonial masters instead. The indigenous Muslim population of Algeria was not permitted to hold political meetings or bear arms. They were subjected to strict pass laws that required indigenous Muslim Algerians to seek permission from the colonial authorities to leave their hometowns or villages."
Abdulkerim Gazali, editor of the Algerian newspaper La Tribune, likened France's occupation of an independent and sovereign Algeria to Nazi Germany's occupation of many European countries and claimed this was racism.
4. Recent developments
Algeria called on France to apologize in 2005 for crimes committed during the colonial era. Amar Bakhouche, speaker of the Algerian Senate, similarly reacted that France did not apologize for massacres it committed in Algeria.
The archives in France on the issue have been kept closed until now. The French collected all documents regarding the massacres and genocide. For many, the closed archives are another sign of the Genocide in Algeria. Amar Bakhouche, the speaker of Algerian Senate, reacted against the fact that France keeps the archives related to that period closed. He said the greatest majority of archives related to that period were brought to France and they were kept closed. "They are not open for French and Algerians. We urged to immediately open them for public", he said.
In response to the action of the French parliament, making it an offense to deny the supposed Armenian genocide, the Turkish parliament is drafting a bill to make it illegal to deny that the French committed genocide in Algeria. Turkish party leaders, including CHP, MHP, BBP and ANAP called France to recognise 'Algerian genocide'.
Source: Wikipedia, 22 October 2006, Sunday