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Algeria renews calls for fighters’ skulls to be returned by France

A parade held during the 62nd anniversary of Algerian war of independence in Algiers, Algeria on November 1, 2016 [Bechir Ramzy/Anadolu]
A parade held to mark the anniversary of the Algerian war of independence in Algiers, Algeria on November 1, 2016 [Bechir Ramzy/Anadolu]

Algeria has renewed calls for the return of the skulls belonging to Algerian independence fighters which are currently being displayed in a French museum.

“We are working in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to relaunch the commission responsible for monitoring and review of the case,” Mujahedeen Minister Tayeb Zitouni told El Moudjahid on the eve of the celebration of the 63rd anniversary of the outbreak of the war of liberation.

“The negotiations on this issue, suspended at the will of the French side, have been delayed because of the French presidential elections,” Zitouni added.

During Zitouni’s visit to France the minister raised a number of issues including the recovery of archives and compensation of victims of French nuclear tests after the war.

Zitouni received affirmations from both sides “to resolve some thorny issues” noting that the visit was in the spirit of the Algiers Declaration on friendship and cooperation.

Read more: Why France’s colonial chapter in Algeria is anything but history  

Algeria today marks 63 years since its deceleration of the war of independence from France after 132 years of colonialism. The war would last nearly eight years and result in the deaths of 1.5 million Algerians after independence from France was declared on 5 July 1962.

“The work of the Algerian-French commission set up to discuss these issues is not yet complete,” Zitouni added, reiterating that Algeria “will not abandon these files claimed to France including the one relating to the restitution of the skulls of the martyrs of the popular resistance.”

France must recognise the crimes it committed in Algeria for 132 years [and it] is obliged to recognise its massacres against the Algerian people so that relations between the two countries resume a normal course.

Algeria has continually pressured France to officially apologise for its brutality witnessed in Algeria over it colonial period and during the war but has not had its requests honoured.

Current President Emmanuel Macron caused controversy in France during his election campaign this year when he referred to France’s colonialism in Algeria as a “crime against humanity” which was seen as a new depth for any French politician when talking about the country’s colonial past.

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