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France speeds up researchers’ access to secret Algeria war archives

March 10, 2021 at 8:41 am

Soldiers from Territorial Units (UT) and paratroopers wait on the barricades erected during the insurrection of Algiers during the Algerian war [JEAN-CLAUDE COMBRISSON, STF / AFP via Getty Images]

France announced yesterday that researchers and historians will get easier access to classified government documents, especially those related to the controversial Algeria war, Anadolu news agency reported.

The French Presidency said in a statement that President Emmanuel Macron has ordered the French archives services to speed up access to documents that are more than 50 years old, “notable documents relating to the Algerian war”.

Last year, Macron commissioned French historian Benjamin Stora to assess how France has dealt with its colonial legacy.

Stora submitted his report last month to the French president, including a number of recommendations to restore bilateral relations between Paris and Algiers.

The French historian proposed creating a “memory and truth commission” that would hear testimonies from people who suffered during the war, revealing the fate of the more than 2,200 Algerians who had disappeared during the 1954-1962 war and disclosing details of French nuclear testing in the Sahara desert in the 1960s.

Last February, the Algerian Minister of Information, Ammar Belhimir, described the French historian’s report as “not objective”, saying it puts the victim on an equal footing with the executioner.

Algerian authorities and historians say nearly five million people were killed during the France occupation of Algeria which lasted from 1830 until 1962.

READ: French senator calls for quid pro quo for Algerian access to national archive