why now? What is the importance of its content? .. Paris opens the archives of the Algerian revolution

Algeria – Yesterday, Thursday, France reopened its archives related to legal cases and police investigations in Algeria – during its war against colonialism, the issue of the Algerian archives in France – to the fore again.

The decree of the French Ministry of Culture allows access to all “public archives created in the context of cases relating to the events that occurred during the Algerian war between November 1, 1954 and December 31, 1966.”

The demand to retrieve the archives of the Ottoman and national eras for the history of the Algerian state, with all its political, economic, cultural, social, diplomatic and military dimensions, is one of the most prominent outstanding problems in the memory file between Algeria and France, according to specialists in the relations of the two countries.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last April that “the archive is an integral part of our memory, and what France smuggled from the Ottoman archive, which it found in Algeria, must be returned to us,” stressing, “We seek to retrieve our archives in general with firmness.”

His advisor, Abdel Majid Chikhi, who is in charge of this file, confirmed – via Algerian radio – that “the generation of today and all generations that will succeed will continue to adhere to the demand to restore all the national archives, which date to several eras in our history and which were deported to France.”

And Paris threatened last March, saying that “there is nothing to prevent resorting to international arbitration or submitting the matter to international judicial bodies if the French government does not fulfill Algeria’s demands.”

internal and external pressures

Regarding the background of the new French move, the former head of the National Center for Studies and Research in the national movement, Jamal Yahyaoui, believes that it came under great internal pressure from the French society itself.

Yahyaoui explains to Al Jazeera Net that “the fourth generation of French children today are discovering from time to time that the symbols of civilization and humanity – and they are landmarks for the history of the French state – are just war criminals by their own admission, after the testimony and reports of military officers appeared.”

He refers to the pressure of a new generation of the Algerian community, who “today constitute a striking force within France, politically, economically and even on the security front.”

The partial opening of the archive – in the opinion of historian Yahyaoui – also comes in response to external pressure from the Algerian state, which sees the memory file as the anchor of the horse, from which all issues of bilateral relations between the two countries are launched.

The spokesman believes that Paris’s move is just a new maneuver, like its predecessors, through which the French are trying to fragment what happened, whether related to the archive file or crimes against humanity so that they do not appear in their total nature. Therefore, their leaders admitted to partial cases, such as the assassination of lawyer Ali Boumnijel and the murder of Maurice Audan.

memory stupidity

On the importance of Paris opening the judicial archive of the Algerian revolution, a member of the National Council for Research in Military History at the Algerian Ministry of Defense, Youssef Manasiriya, confirms that the French archive is subject to laws that regulate its arrangement and access to it or remain under secrecy.

Manasiriya believes that “France’s new decision concerns documents that have been available for a long time, explaining that French law arranges archives according to levels, including public and private, and others related to people, crimes, and others.”

In a statement to Al-Jazeera Net, he confirms that police, gendarmerie and security reports in general fall within the first (general) category available to researchers in their places, because it is not originally reserved, while what is sensitive is withdrawn from the archive.

Manasiriya adds that these intended reports pertain to specific events, according to the narrative of the security services and their informants, and their results are always in the service of their interests, and they are directed primarily to public opinion to impersonate the French role in securing Algerians and protecting human rights.

In the end, he stresses that it is a very simple, useless and not new step, as it was preceded by the initiative of President Giscard d’Estaing in the mid-seventies during the reign of Houari Boumediene, to hand over to Algeria part of the archive of the “Z” series, which concerns the social, economic and cultural conditions in the Algerian Sahara, then presenting an archive Map of mines on the border in Bouteflika’s time.

However, all of them remain useless for the Algerians, but rather represent a foolish operation for their memory, and if France has the sincere intention – and words to the historian – it must “open the archives of crimes against humanity and documents related to military colonial actions and human detention.”

Ministry of Mujahideen: The archive cannot be divided and researched on specific events or phases without another (Al-Jazeera)

negative repercussions

As for the warnings that some raise about the danger of these security documents to Algeria, Yahyaoui says that the interrogation archive contains thorny issues, because investigations are conducted under torture, and may lead their owners to utter words and camouflages to escape colonial justice.

He points out in another important point – as a researcher specializing in the treatment of archives – that the French, during the 60 years of Algeria’s independence, did not remain idly by, but “carried out a process of arranging, selecting, and classifying the public archives, and therefore today they cannot offer the baton to those who beat them with it, and they know What crimes they committed.

Yahyaoui asks, “What is the archive that the French Minister of Culture provides us with? Is it the facts as they are? Or the records of the torture sessions? Or the testimonies of the French officers who practiced torture in Algeria?”

Then he answers that the French authorities focus in a selective process on the interrogation records in order to confuse the memory file, and this may have negative repercussions for the Algerians, especially if the reports are not placed in their historical context.

French soldiers abuse an Algerian as part of an interrogation during the Tahrir Revolution (Private Archive)

blow up the colonial school

Manasiriya explains that this great treasure from the archive is still stored in several well-known locations, such as the tunnels beyond the sea, in the Ministry of War, the “Kidoursi” building and its annex in Nantes, and at the Chamber of Commerce in Marseille, and there is what is preserved in the municipalities of the birth of military criminals, as he described it. .

He considers that France refuses to hand over that archive in all its stages, because it first condemns it, and because it “destroys the claims of the colonial school in denial of the Algerian nation, claiming that it did not exist as a state before entering the occupation.”

The opening of the Ottoman archives in Algeria will also seize the theses of the French civilizational school in its claim to civilize the African colonies and make their countries, according to the historian.

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