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October 17, 1961: “inexcusable crimes for the Republic”, according to Macron

Emmanuel Macron denounced this Saturday, October 16 of “Crimes inexcusable for the Republic”, at the end of an official ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the massacre of Algerians committed on October 17, 1961.

The head of state “Admitted the facts: the crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic”, indicates a press release from the Elysee.

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Earlier in the afternoon, faced with relatives of victims who were sometimes in tears, the Head of State participated – an unprecedented gesture for a French president – in a tribute on the banks of the Seine, at the height of the bridge de Bezons, borrowed 60 years ago by Algerian demonstrators who arrived from the neighboring slum of Nanterre at the appeal of the branch of the FLN installed in France.

October 17, 1961, the memory of a long hidden French crime

Before Emmanuel Macron, only his predecessor François Hollande, in 2012, spoke on the subject, but sending a simple statement of a few lines to AFP: “On October 17, 1961, Algerians demonstrating for the right to independence were killed during a bloody crackdown. The Republic clearly recognizes these facts. “

At least several dozen dead

On October 17, 1961, a crackdown – “Brutal, violent, bloody”, in the words of the Elysee Palace – hit the demonstrators protesting against the ban on Algerians leaving their homes after 8:30 p.m. “Nearly 12,000 Algerians were arrested and transferred to sorting centers at the Coubertin stadium, the Sports Palace and other places. In addition to many wounded, several dozen were killed, their bodies thrown into the Seine. Many families have never found the remains of their loved ones ”, recalled Saturday the French presidency.

“Methods worthy of the Gestapo”: the massacre of October 17, 1961 recounted in “l’Obs”

The number of deaths from the massacre is estimated by historians at at least several dozen, the official toll counting only three.

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“France looks at its entire history with lucidity and recognizes the clearly established responsibilities. It owes it first and foremost to itself, to all those whom the Algerian war and its procession of crimes committed on all sides have wounded in their flesh and in their soul ”, adds the press release.

Memorial battle

Emmanuel Macron, the first French president born after the Algerian War ended in 1962, did not make a speech at the Bezons bridge but spoke on the spot with relatives of the victims, to return “Tribute to the memory of all the victims” of a “Tragedy killed, denied or concealed for a long time”.

This gesture, six months before the presidential election, marks a new stage in the memorial battle led by Emmanuel Macron. “There was Maurice Audin, Ali Boumendjel, forgiveness for the harkis … We have made more progress on the memorial site in a few months than in 60 years”, assures the historian Benjamin Stora who submitted to the Head of State in January a report on the colonization and the war in Algeria (1954-62).

On this occasion, Emmanuel Macron pledged to participate “Three commemorative and emblematic days” : the first took place around September 25, national day of homage to the Harkis, the second this Saturday and the third on March 19 for the 60th anniversary of the Evian Accords which ended the Algerian War.

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EXCLUSIVE. Benjamin Stora: “We must recognize the exactions of the Algerian war to appease memories”

On Saturday, left-wing politicians, such as LFI deputy Alexis Corbière and communist candidate Fabien Roussel, asked him to recognize the massacre of Algerians as “A state crime”. On the right, Marine Le Pen has criticized “These repetitions of unbearable repetitions” and estimated that Emmanuel Macron “Continue to belittle our country” while “Algeria insults us every day”.

A number of commemorative events are planned for Sunday in Seine-Saint-Denis, including Bagnolet, Montreuil, Noisy-le-Sec where a poster by the artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest, representing the hands of a drowned man and bearing the words “A state crime, Paris on October 17, 1961”, must be installed Sunday on the facade of a building.

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Nanterre will join the towns of Colombes, Gennevilliers, Bagneux, Malakoff and Châtillon for a souvenir walk that will start from the Esplanade de La Défense and join the Pont de Neuilly.

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