Algerians mark 1945 massacre by French forces
SETIF, Algeria, May 8 (AFP) - Thousands of Algerians marched in the eastern town of Setif on Sunday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of pro-independence demonstrators by French forces there.
The cortege followed the same route that the ill-fated protesters took on May 8, 1945, calling for an end to French rule in Algeria. That same day, across the Mediterranean, Europe feted the Allied victory over Nazi Germany.
French forces quickly stepped in to crack down on the Setif demonstration, leaving 45,000 people dead, according to Algerian historians. Western researchers put the death toll at between 15,000 and 20,000.
“We wanted to pay tribute to the martyrs of May 8, 1945, by taking the same route,” said Abdelhamid Salakdji, local representative of the May 8 Foundation, created in a bid to force France to admit its responsibility for the killings.
“We want to send a message to (French President) Jacques Chirac. Germany asked for France’s forgiveness. Why doesn’t France do the same thing in Algeria?” Salakdji asked.
In France, hundreds of Algerian and Moroccan immigrants demonstrated in Paris to mark the anniversary, holding signs that read “Chirac is killing hope in Africa” and “May 8, 1945: day of celebration, day of mourning”.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier earlier called on Paris and Algiers to work to overcome the most painful chapters in their shared history.
“To build a common future, we need to look together at the past, in order to overcome the chapters most painful for our two peoples,” Barnier said in an interview published Sunday in the Algerian daily El Watan.
Barnier also said researchers from both countries, who now have access to most of the archives from the period when Algeria was a French territory, are trying to clear up the disputed history.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika also marked the anniversary with a call for an objective historical review of the events.
But he added in a statement that the Algerian people were still waiting for France to take “more definite action” in recognizing its responsibility for the tragedy in Setif.
Subject: French News