Algeria has been embroiled in a 13-year civil war, one responsible for the deaths of more than 150,000 people, while many of us west of the Atlantic Ocean have been oblivious to it.
Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has packaged and labeled it “Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation.” And by wrapping it in a pretty ribbon called hope, he’s convinced his people to open it.
Algeria has been in turmoil since 1992, when the government canceled the country’s first multiparty election because the Islamic Salvation Front, had enough of a lead to almost ensure victory.
On Sept. 29, Algerians decided by an overwhelming 97 percent to enact the president’s charter.
The charter prescribes immunity and reinstates employment for extremists who have put down their weapons since January 2000, when initial reconciliatory legislation was passed, according to BBC News.
Bouteflika calls it a way for his country to “turn the page” from a haunting past, to encourage national solidarity and to promote “social and economic stability.”
Urging Algerians to forgive may arguably be the morally right thing to do. It’s difficult to fathom taking the high road in such a trying situation.
Asking them to forget devalues the lives of those who died and ignores the lasting effect this tragedy has had on a country and its people.
Ironically, an election that the president declared would be “transparent, democratic and fair” was rife with coercion and corruption.
This is the same election that incorporated propaganda stating that a vote against the charter was a vote of disloyalty.
The same election in which votes were counted by the government itself.
A charter can’t guarantee peace because amnesty and reconciliation are not the same.
But it can ensure an increase in the president’s following, for now he has two disparate groups grateful to him-one for its immediate freedom and another for its pseudo-liberation.
And it does serve as tangible proof that oblivion knows no boundaries.
Andrea H. Young is a fourth-year magazine production student from Huntsville, Ala. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org