Algeria’s atomic experience

In the lead up to Hiroshima Day, there are many fascinating people and events in the city. All issues ‘nuclear’, ‘anti-nuclear’ and ‘peace’ related are under examination through an eclectic international lens.

On Tuesday August 5th, I attended a film screening of two documentaries made by Algerian journalist Larbi Benchiha hosted by the Hiroshima Peace Institute, at Hiroshima University’s satellite campus. The audience was a mix of scientists, historians, social researchers, students and peace activists from many nationalities.

The two films – Sand Storm and Algeria, De Gaulle and the bomb – detailed the French nuclear tests in the Algerian Sahara during the 1960s. Larbi introduced the films and spoke about the many layers of injustice experienced by affected local communities and servicemen, who have suffered over the 50 years since the tests. It was also good to hear the Algerian Ambassador to Japan speak with high support for the documentaries and their message.

Of particular interest were the many strong similarities between the testimonies of servicemen involved in the French-Algerian tests (included in the documentaries) with those stories Nuclear Futures has collected from Australian and British Nuclear Veterans involved in Australia’s tests around the same era ….secrecy, hidden politics and scientific agendas, human exposure to dangerous radiation levels, inadequate safety measures, experimentation, failed clean ups, long-term health impacts and the ongoing fights for recognition and compensation by victims.

For more information about Larbi and the documentaries: