Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said he was deeply impressed by the atrocities committed by France against the people of Algeria during the Algerian War of Independence.
The president’s remarks came following his touring the Memorial of Moudjahid in Algiers, the capital of Algeria.
“I visited the Museum of Moudjahid and was deeply impressed and shocked by what I have seen,” President Aliyev said in his speech at the 31st Arab League Summit on Tuesday, according to his press service.
“The brutality, mass atrocities committed by France against the people of Algeria, something the world should never forget. France conducted a terrible war against the Algerian people for more than 130 years which resulted in the deaths of more than one and a half million Algerians. Today, commemorating this tragedy, we need to do everything in order to avoid these tragedies in the future.”
In October 2021, the presidential office of Algeria said over 5.6 million Algerians were killed during the French occupation of Algeria between 1830 and 1962 when the country gained independence. This number includes 1.5 million killed during Algeria's fight for independence between 1954 and 1962, as well as those who died from landmine remnants and radiation as a result of the French nuclear tests in the Algerian desert.
The most brutal phase of the mass murder of Algerians took place in 1945 in the town of Setif amid Europe’s celebration of victory over Nazi Germany. Back then, tens of thousands of Algerians joined the celebrations. However, the peaceful march eventually turned into riots for liberation and resulted in the massacre of 45,000 Algerian nationals, according to data compiled by the government of Algeria.
The events of 1945 spawned wider protests against France and set grounds for the launch of the ultimate independence movement of Algerians that started in 1954. The eight years of anti-colonial movement until the declaration of the country’s independence in 1962 took the lives of roughly 1.5 million Algerians.
French authorities had reportedly collected the skulls of the killed protesters in one of Europe’s biggest skull collections at the Musée de l’Homme, or Museum of Mankind, in Paris. In 2020, following continuous calls from the Algerian government, France returned 24 skulls of resistance fighters.
France still rejects to apologize for the tragedy despite relevant demands from the Algerian authorities.
Genocide of Azerbaijanis
Azerbaijanis also experienced the horrors of genocide in the early 1990s, when neighboring Armenia launched a massive offensive against Azerbaijan over the latter's Karabakh (Garabagh) region.
The conflict emerged due to the anti-Azerbaijan sentiments in Armenia and later grew into armed intervention in Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. A four-year bloody war ended with a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy conducted by Armenia.
The bloodiest phase of the Armenian war against Azerbaijanis during the 1991-1994 war took place in the town of Khojaly. Late into the night on February 25, 1992, Armenia’s forces assaulted the town of Khojaly, killing 613 ethnic Azerbaijanis, including 106 women, 63 children, and 70 elderly people, and taking another 1,275 as hostages. Another 150 Azerbaijani nationals went missing, and their fates remain unknown to this day. Those suffering major injuries or having been maimed totaled 487, including 76 children.