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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 .

Human rights and anti-racism groups and Algerian associations in France joined the protest march, calling on the authorities to further recognize the responsibilities of the French state linked to the war in France. independence of Algeria and to further open the archives.

The commemoration comes after French President Macron admitted that the “crimes” committed on October 17, 1961 – which authorities 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.

Ahmed Toul, holding a photo of himself, 13, on the streets of Paris that fateful night, said police were “in turmoil”.

For many, the bloody crackdown of 1961 resonates with the current political debate in France.

Anti-racist activist Wissam Xelka told The Associated Press that the crackdown was “a symbol of all the colonial treatment that has taken place and it’s not just October 17, 1961”.

“There is a continuity between the unfolding of the events of October 17 and today’s treatment with the rise of the far right,” 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 “.


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