Kuwait News Agency, Kuwait
May 8 2006

France still unable to apologize

By our staff writer

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has repeated his demand that
France should apologize to Algeria for the "genocidal" colonial rule.

He said this was the only way to turn a chronically ill relationship
into a true friendship. Bouteflika first called for a French apology
in 2004 and repeated the demand again at the same May 8 ceremony a
year ago.

In a speech on Sunday evening, Bouteflika said: "It is clear that
since (independence on) July 5, 1962, each is master in his own house
and there is no question of us applying pressure to obtain what seems
our elementary right: that is to say, a public and solemn apology for
the crime of colonialization committed against our people.

"If we as a people have triumphed over an undiluted colonialism at
the price of unspeakable suffering, it is not to succumb to the
sirens of a one-sided friendship."

Bouteflika's speech was made in the eastern town of Guelma at a
ceremony marking the killings of thousands of Algerians who took to
the streets to demand independence.

France occupied the North African country for 132 years, and 1.5
million people were killed in the 1954-1962 Algerian war of
independence.

The call for an apology even sparked protests by some French
rightists, who complained that France should not have allowed
Bouteflika to come to Paris for medical treatment last month.

Although the lower house of the French parliament unanimously
approved a bill on January 18, 2001 which publicly recognizes the
massacre of Armenians in 1915 as genocide, France still refuses to
even apologize for the massacre of Algerian freedom fighters, let
alone recognize it as genocide.

Curiously, the death toll was the same in each incident. Armenians
claim that up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in
orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was
falling apart.

The French parliament's vote on the Armenian massacre won the praise
of many organizations and human rights activists as a brave and
courageous move. However, the French parliament has never held such a
vote on the bloody suppression of the Algerian uprising.

Indeed, some circles in France even regard discussion of the issue as
taboo.

If the French parliament is truly sincere, it should taken the bold
decision to recognize that it committed genocide in Algeria and
apologize.

>From the perspective of history, the genocide in Algeria is all the
more outrageous because it occurred at a time when the world was
beginning to focus on the human rights issue, war crimes, and
genocide, and because it happened after World War Two, when France
itself experienced the Nazi occupation.

Meanwhile, last week, Turkey warned France that bilateral ties would
suffer "irreparable damage" if the National Assembly passes a bill
that would make it a punishable offence to "deny the existence of the
1915 Armenian genocide".

France is considered one of the great Western democracies and still
uses the `Liberty, equality, brotherhood' slogan of the 1789 French
Revolution, which inspired many social developments in modern
history. Therefore, why does it not step forward and recognize its
actions in the Algerian war as genocide?