Targeting Civilians: Settlers, Human Shields, And The Wars In Algeria And Ireland

AN SIONNACH FIONN

The Nation has published a review of Zohra Drif’s acclaimed autobiography, Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter, where the author Bill Fletcher Jr. asks the provocative question: should the civilian settlers of a colonial power – or their “loyalist” descendants – be a legitimate target in a national liberation struggle? The answer, as you might expect, is a complex and morally ambiguous one, whether those doing the targeting are state or non-state actors.

Despite this, some universal characteristics can be found in a number of countries and regions which have experienced colonisation:

Algeria was among those colonies of Europe that could be defined as “settler states” or “settler colonies.” These were colonies where the Europeans not only controlled the territory and seized its resources but where there had been a conscious decision to settle Europeans. Other such settler states included Ireland, Kenya, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe…

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