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Algeria rights group demands justice for thousands of victims of France’s colonial-era landmines Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Algeria rights group demands justice for thousands of victims of France’s colonial-era landmines

Official records state that out of the 7,300 people injured by mines. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 April, 2021

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The head of the Algerian National Human Rights Council said the 'crime of the French coloniser cannot remain unpunished'.

The head of the Algerian National Human Rights Council said on Sunday that France should compensate Algerian victims of French landmines used during its colonial rule of the country.

Commemorating the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Mine Action, Bouzid Lazhari said that more than nine million mines were planted by French authorities which caused disabilities for over 7,000 Algerian citizens.

He said official records state that out of the 7,300 people injured by land mines, 4,830 suffered these during the war of liberation against the colonial power while 2,470 occurred after independence.

“The crime of the French coloniser cannot remain unpunished,” Lazhari said, calling for all Algerians to continue fighting for compensation.

France invaded Algeria in 1830, using a diplomatic incident as a pretext. The North African country became a part of France in 1848 after national resistance hero Emir Abdelkader surrendered.

Algeria's war of independence started in 1954 and left half a million dead according to the French, or 1.5 million according to the Algerians, and very nearly tore France apart.

It was during this conflict that France began an ardent deployment of mines on the eastern and western borders of Algeria in an attempt to retain its grip on the country.

Read more: Algerian government withdraws controversial 'deprivation of nationality' bill

Algerians have long called for France to own up to alleged crimes committed during its colonial rule of the country.

Earlier this year, a senior Algerian military official urged France to "shoulder its historic responsibilities" for 1960s nuclear test sites in Algeria.

France carried out 17 nuclear explosions in the Algerian part of the Sahara Desert between 1960 and 1966.

Emmanuel Macron - the first French president born after the conflict - has been recognised as going further than his predecessors in recognising the scale of French abuses.

He declared Algeria's colonisation a "crime against humanity" before being elected, however earlier this year ruled out an official apology.

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