PARIS (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron has met with 4 grandchildren of an Algerian independence fighter to inform them that Ali Boumendjel had been tortured and killed by French troopers in 1957.
It was an extra step in Macron’s efforts to reconcile France with its colonial previous whereas providing an outstretched hand to Algeria, which France occupied for 132 years.
In a press release late Tuesday, the presidential Elysee Palace stated Macron needs to offer households of the disappeared on each side of the Mediterranean “the means to study the reality.”
Macron is the primary French president born after the tip of Algeria’s brutal seven-year battle of independence in 1962, and had promised to reckon with colonial-era wrongs and, put an finish to the 2 international locations’ nonetheless rancorous relationship.
Algeria held a particular place amongst France’s colonial conquests, changing into part-and-parcel of France like different French areas. Whereas Algerians make up a big portion of immigrants in France, the North African nation harbors enmity from the years of colonization that culminated within the battle, its brutal secrets and techniques locked in archives that Macron stated he’s regularly attempting to reopen.
“No crime, no atrocity dedicated by anybody in the course of the Struggle of Algeria might be excused or left hidden,” the Elysee assertion stated. “They should be confronted with braveness and lucidity, with absolute respect for these whose lives had been torn aside by them and whose destinies had been damaged.”
France’s bid to hunt reconciliation is an element of a bigger motion of reckoning with the darkish previous of countries, notably in the USA the place Civil Struggle-era statues honoring southern heroes who defended slavery are being torn down. Macron has stated he’s against eradicating statues to erase historical past. He has additionally stated he doesn’t need to apologize to Algeria — although he stunned everybody when he stated, whereas campaigning for the presidency he received in 2017, that France’s colonization was a “crime towards humanity.”
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated final yr that his nation continues to be awaiting an official apology.
A report commissioned by Macron from historian Benjamin Stora, thought of France’s high professional on Algeria, stated the “excesses of a tradition of repentance” don’t contribute to dealing with the previous. Nevertheless, Stora additionally stated that therapeutic wounds calls for enhancing understanding of what the colonial system entailed, together with its each day actuality and ideological targets and “how some in Algeria and France resisted this technique of domination.”
Amongst suggestions was recognition of the killing of Boumendjel. His spouse Malika had spent a lifetime attempting to uncover the reality of her husband’s demise in the course of the particularly brutal Battle of Algiers when, the presidential assertion stated, “he was arrested by the French military, positioned in a secret (location), tortured, then killed on 23 March 1957.” It stated a French normal, Paul Aussaresses, “admitted to have ordered one in every of his subordinates to kill him and canopy the crime as a suicide.” Aussaresses was convicted in 2004 of defending torture.
In 2018, Macron formally acknowledged the accountability of the French state within the 1957 demise of a dissident in Algeria, Maurice Audin, admitting for the primary time the navy’s use of systematic torture in the course of the battle.
Macron needs to honor Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the usage of wartime torture. He hopes to have her reburied on the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for a few of France’s most distinguished residents.
Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.
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