TEHRAN, May 8 (MNA) -- Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has repeated his demand that France should apologize to Algeria for the "genocidal" colonial rule.

He said this was the only way to turn a chronically ill relationship into a true friendship. Bouteflika first called for a French apology in 2004 and repeated the demand again at the same May 8 ceremony a year ago.


In a speech on Sunday evening, Bouteflika said: "It is clear that since (independence on) July 5, 1962, each is master in his own house and there is no question of us applying pressure to obtain what seems our elementary right: that is to say, a public and solemn apology for the crime of colonialization committed against our people.


"If we as a people have triumphed over an undiluted colonialism at the price of unspeakable suffering, it is not to succumb to the sirens of a one-sided friendship."


Bouteflika's speech was made in the eastern town of Guelma at a ceremony marking the killings of thousands of Algerians who took to the streets to demand independence.


France occupied the North African country for 132 years, and 1.5 million people were killed in the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence.


The call for an apology even sparked protests by some French rightists, who complained that France should not have allowed Bouteflika to come to Paris for medical treatment last month.


Although the lower house of the French parliament unanimously approved a bill on January 18, 2001 which publicly recognizes the massacre of Armenians in 1915 as genocide, France still refuses to even apologize for the massacre of Algerian freedom fighters, let alone recognize it as genocide.


Curiously, the death toll was the same in each incident. Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.


The French parliament’s vote on the Armenian massacre won the praise of many organizations and human rights activists as a brave and courageous move. However, the French parliament has never held such a vote on the bloody suppression of the Algerian uprising.  


Indeed, some circles in France even regard discussion of the issue as taboo.


If the French parliament is truly sincere, it should taken the bold decision to recognize that it committed genocide in Algeria and apologize.


From the perspective of history, the genocide in Algeria is all the more outrageous because it occurred at a time when the world was beginning to focus on the human rights issue, war crimes, and genocide, and because it happened after World War Two, when France itself experienced the Nazi occupation.


Meanwhile, last week, Turkey warned France that bilateral ties would suffer "irreparable damage" if the National Assembly passes a bill that would make it a punishable offence to "deny the existence of the 1915 Armenian genocide".


France is considered one of the great Western democracies and still uses the “Liberty, equality, brotherhood” slogan of the 1789 French Revolution, which inspired many social developments in modern history.  Therefore, why does it not step forward and recognize its actions in the Algerian war as genocide?






News Code 16455

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