French parliament condemns 1961 Paris massacre of Algerians

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The French parliament's lower house on Thursday approved a resolution condemning as "bloody and murderous repression" the killing by Paris police of dozens of Algerians in a crackdown on a 1961 protest to support Algerian independence.

In recent years France has made a series of efforts to come to terms with its colonial past in Algeria.

Dozens of peaceful demonstrators died during a crackdown by Paris police on a protest by Algerians in 1961. The scale of the massacre was covered up for decades by French authorities before President Emmanuel Macron condemned it as "inexcusable" in 2021.

The text of the resolution stressed the crackdown took place "under the authority of police prefect Maurice Papon" and also called for the official commemoration of the massacre.

The bill, put forward by Greens lawmaker Sabrina Sebaihi and ruling Renaissance party MP Julie Delpech, was approved by 67 lawmakers, with 11 against.

Sebaihi said the vote represented the "first step" towards the "recognition of this colonial crime, the recognition of this state crime."

The term "state crime" however does not appear in the text of the resolution, which was jointly drafted by Macron's party and the Elysee Palace.

On the 60th anniversary of the bloodshed in 2021, Macron acknowledged that several dozen protesters had been killed, "their bodies thrown into the River Seine."

The precise number of victims has never been made clear and some activists fear several hundred could have been killed.

"Let us spare a thought here today for these victims and their families, who have been hit hard by the spiral of violence", Dominique Faure, the minister for local and regional authorities, said on Thursday.

She noted that efforts had been made in the past to recognise the massacre.

In 2012, then president Francois Hollande paid "tribute to the victims" of a "bloody crackdown" on the men and women demonstrating for "the right to independence".

The rally was called in the final year of France's increasingly violent attempt to retain Algeria as a north African colony, and in the middle of a bombing campaign targeting mainland France by pro-independence militants.

However, Faure expressed reservations about establishing a special day to commemorate the massacre, pointing out that three dates already existed to "commemorate what happened during the Algerian war".

"I think it is important to let history do the work before considering a new day of commemoration specifically for the victims of October 17, 1961."

France has made several attempts over the years to heal the wounds with Algeria, but it refuses to "apologize or repent" for the 132 years of often brutal rule that ended in 1962.

Comments 1
Thumb chrisrushlau 6 days

Were these Arab Algerians or European Algerians who were killed? France notes that it is easier to kill people if they are not resisting.