Representatives of the Algerian Parliament started working on a draft law addressing the crimes committed by the French colonialists in the country, between 1830 and 1962, with the support of the National War Veterans’ Organisation (ONM).
120 deputies to the Algerian People’s National Assembly sent correspondences to Parliament Speaker Suleiman Shanin, asking him to take legal steps to discuss the draft law, without revealing its contents.
According to the internal correspondence, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency on Thursday, the deputies’ representative MP Kamal Belarbi deposited a draft law on colonial crimes on 28 January, with the Presidency of Parliament.
As stated in the correspondence, the MPs who suggested the draft law questioned the reason for Shanin’s delay in scheduling a deliberation session and then allowing the rest of the deputies to vote either in favour, or against, passing the draft law.
Last Thursday, the Algerian Parliament announced the suspension of its activities, as part of measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for an unspecified duration.
Anadolu Agency quoted a parliamentary source stating that the suspension of the parliament’s activities may be the reason behind delaying the deliberation session.
Mohand Oulhadj, secretary general of ONM, revealed on Wednesday that the MPs who proposed the draft law invited the organisation to participate in promoting it.
In a video posted on ONM’s website, Oulhadj explained that he supports the draft law, which constitutes a response to a French law issued in 2005 glorifying colonial history. Oulhadj blamed the regime of former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, for delaying a proper response to France’s attempt to praise its colonial past.
In early December 2019, Algerian Minister of Mujahideen (war veterans) Tayeb Zitouni called on parliamentarians to open the file of French colonial crimes at the height of a political crisis between the two countries, as Algerian officials accused Paris of fuelling the crisis in the country following Bouteflika’s departure.
In 2009, Algerian lawmakers attempted to enact a law criminalising colonialism. However, the law has never been accomplished for unknown reasons, as Bouteflika’s regime was accused of sabotaging the project.
Historians suggest that during the colonial era, more than five million Algerians were killed, including 1.5 million victims, during the Algerian War between 1954 and 1962. Thousands of people went missing or were left injured, and villages destroyed, in addition to radiation tests that were conducted in the Algerian desert.