Algeria has buried the remains of 24 anti-colonial warriors surrendered by France in the “martyrs” square, while Alger is still waiting for an apology from Paris to solve the painful past of colonization.
On this anniversary of its independence, Algeria continued on Sunday, July 5, to the burial of the remains of 24 Algerian warriors who were killed at the beginning of the French colonization and surrendered by France.
The 24 skulls were buried in the morning during a solemn burial in the cemetery of El Alia, the largest in Algeria, in the presence of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
Located in the eastern suburbs of Alger, it protects “the square of the martyrs of the Algerian revolution”, where rests emir Abdelkader, hero of the first anti-French resistance and the great figures of the war of independence (1954-1962). The 24 coffins, covered with the national flag, were buried on a square of four rows of six, near the graves of the former Algerian heads of state. A company of the Republican Guard, an elite body, presented its arms. Officer cadets slowly conducted a funeral walk.
Since their arrival on Algerian soil on Friday, the coffins had remained exposed at the Palace of Culture, where a large crowd moved during the day on Saturday to give a final tribute to these first resistant returnees after 170 years.
These remains were stored since XIXe century in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Among the most famous early colonial rebel heads are Sheikh Bouziane, the leader of the Ziban rebellion in eastern Algeria in 1849, and his comrades in arms. The prisoners of the French were shot and then beheaded. Skulls were considered “trophies of war” by the French military.
Colonized for 132 years (1830-1962), Algeria officially requested the transfer of skulls – several dozen – and colonial archives in January 2018.
Their return from France is a strong sign of a thaw in relations between Algeria and the former colonial power, marked since 1962 by recurring controversies and tensions. “This gesture is part of a friendship process and clarity in all wounds in our history,” commented Elysée.
In an interview broadcast on France 24, Abdelmadjid Tebboune welcomed the return of these remains and hopes for further action in this direction. After what he describes as France’s “half apology” for the crimes committed during the colonial era, the Algerian head of state hopes that Paris will make real excuses.
Algerian deputies have just adopted a “historic” law which set up a day of remembrance, May 8, in memory of the 1945 massacres perpetrated by French forces in Sétif and Constantine.
Alger also wants to put on the table the file “lost” during the War of Independence (1954-1962), more than 2,200 according to Alger, and the French nuclear tests in Algeria that have done and continue to make the victims “.