French historians Malika Rahal and Fabrice Riceputi are specialised in researching the events of the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence, and notably the kidnaps, detention, torture and disappearances of pro-independence militants at the hands of the French army. They lead a project to trace the fate of thousands of people who disappeared during the 1957 Battle of Algiers, when France’s military led a bloody, months-long campaign to dislodge independence fighters and sympathisers in the French colony’s capital. When in Algiers late last year to continue their research, the historians made the chance and revealing discovery of the site of a former colonial farm used by the military to torture and kill detainees. This is their story.
When French troops intervened in Mali in early 2013 the aim was to shore up a faltering regime and help bring stability and strong government to the former colony. Instead just over two years later the African nation seems on the edge of a political catastrophe. There has been a growing number of attacks and armed clashes in the country and the United Nations mission that replaced the French military operation has suffered heavy casualties. Meanwhile there has been little or no political progress domestically as everyone waits for the signature of a peace agreement which will result in a de facto partition of the country. Thomas Cantaloube reports.