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Algerians want colonial crimes recognised

media Minister of the Mujahedeen, Mohamed Cherif Abbas. AFP

An Algerian minister has called for acknowledgement of crimes committed against Algerians during France’s colonisation of the country, ahead of the 58th anniversary of the war for Algeria’s independence.

Mohamed Cherif Abbas, minister of the Mujahedeen (veterans of war), said on Tuesday that crimes had been committed against a “defenceless” people and now needed “frank acknowledgement.”

Earlier this month, French President François Hollande for the first time recognised the repression of Algerian protesters by police in Paris on 17 October 1961. Historians say dozens, if not hundreds, were killed during the incident.

Abbas said Algerians need to hear more.

“The recognition of the 17 October 1961 massacre is primarily political, given the manner in which it was carried out,” Abbas said, two days before the anniversary of the war, which started 1 November 1954.

Last May, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said the only way to heal the wounds caused by the Algerian war was to take an objective look at history.

A few days later Hollande was elected president, where he called for a responsible handling of France’s colonial past. Algerians welcomed the statement.

In December, Hollande heads to Algeria in his first official visit, with hopes of improving relations between the two countries. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said the visit will help solidify a “strategic partnership” between the two countries.

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