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A tribute march was organized Sunday in Paris for the 60th anniversary of the bloody police crackdown on a demonstration by Algerians in the French capital, during the last year of their country’s war for independence with the colonial power.

PARIS – A tribute march was organized Sunday in Paris for the 60th anniversary of the bloody police repression against a demonstration by Algerians in the French capital, during the last year of their country’s war for independence with its colonial power.

The commemoration comes after French President Macron admitted that the “crimes” committed on October 17, 1961 – which authorities have sought to cover up for decades – were “inexcusable to the Republic”.

Protesters responded that day to a call for a peaceful demonstration by the French branch of the National Liberation Front, which fought for Algerian independence, against a discriminatory nighttime curfew targeting Algerians in the Paris region. .

“The crackdown was brutal, violent, bloody” under the orders of the Paris police chief Maurice Papon, Macron said in a statement released on Saturday. About 12,000 Algerians were arrested and dozens were killed, “their bodies thrown into the Seine”, according to the statement.

Historians say at least 120 protesters died, some by gunshot and others drowned, according to Macron’s office. The exact number has never been established because the archives remain partially closed.

Papon later became the highest ranking Frenchman convicted of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity for his role in the deportation of Jews during World War II.

Human rights and anti-racism groups and Algerian associations in France organized a tribute march in Paris on Sunday afternoon. They called on the authorities to further recognize the responsibilities of the French state in the “tragedies and horrors” linked to Algeria’s war of independence and to further open up the archives.

Fabrice Riceputi, a historian who recently published a book “Here, we drowned the Algerians” on the event, told The Associated Press “it’s a late colonial massacre, we are a few months away from independence Algerian, but (it is) also a starting point in the history of the treatment of immigrants by the Republic.

The massacre “speaks of a time when there was unmistakably state racism, colonialism,” he said.

Riceputi described the bloodshed as “the culmination of police harassment and violence against Algerians in the Paris region” that had started the previous month, including police raids on slums where Algerians lived in the region. outskirts of Paris, with destroyed houses and corpses found in the Seine even before the day of the demonstration. “This is the culmination of a period of terror,” he said.

Activists want the massacre to be recognized as a “state crime” by the police, the opening of a memorial site and reparations, among other demands.

The Movement Against Racism and For Friendship Between Peoples, or MRAP, lamented that Macron’s declaration contained “no word on the context of the Algerian war, no word on colonialism, nothing on archives. .. even less on repairs “.

Earlier Sunday, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo attended a tribute ceremony at the Saint-Michel bridge in the city center of the capital.

Macron paid tribute to the victims on Saturday at the Bezons bridge over the Seine, northwest of Paris. He was the first president to attend a massacre commemoration event.

Earlier this year, he announced a decision to speed up the declassification of secret documents related to Algeria’s 1954-62 War of Independence from France. The new procedure was introduced in August, Macron’s office said.

The move was part of a series of steps Macron took to address France’s brutal history with Algeria, which had been under French rule for 132 years until its independence in 1962.

In 2018, Macron officially recognized the responsibility of the French state in the 1957 death of a dissident in Algeria, Maurice Audin, admitting for the first time the systematic use of torture by the French army during the war.

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ABC News

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