I said in a previous post that I didn’t care whether France apologizes or not for the crimes it committed in Algeria. I haven’t changed my mind and it still gets on my nerves to hear the Algerian politicians’ calls for an apology. Only recently, Ennahda and the Moudjahidines’s organisation insisted again on passing the law criminalising French colonialism despite the clear message of the APN’s president.
What I said in the past and which I still call for is to have the French pay financial compensations for their crimes. This would include the victims of the nuclear tests in the Sahara but also the victims of the anti-personnel mines. And this is really important especially for the latter for we still get new victims of these dirty mines.
France has planted around 11 million mines on the Algero-Moroccan and Algero-Tunisian borders between 1956 and 1962. These mines have killed many freedom fighters (some reports say that at the beginning, 50% of those who attempted to cross the border were killed) but that was war. The problem is even today there are still Algerians, mostly children and shepherds, who die or get injured because of them.
Algeria has started a risky and costly long-term demining activity as early as 1963 and had always requested from France to get the maps of these anti-personnel mines’ fields. For some reason, France had never agreed to share these maps and we had to wait till 2007 before we finally got them. Obviously this cannot be a humanitarian move as it was accompanied with a proposal to increase the coöperation between the Algerian army (ANP) and its French counterpart. The decision was also dictated by security reasons as it was alleged that the terrorists were using the mines’ TNT to manufacture bombs.
The Algerian army (ANP) has destroyed around 8 million mines and plans on destroying the remaining 3 millions before the end of 2012. Hopefully the now available maps will make this activity easier, but we will always fear the accidental discoveries of anti-personnel mines’ fields as it happened near Tebessa yesterday.