French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday denounced the “bloody police repression of Algerian protesters in Paris”, describing it as an “unforgivable crime”, with the strong approval of a French president who had assassinated several bodies.
On October 17, 1961, on the orders of then-Paris Police Chief Maurice Babon, police attacked a protest organized by 25,000 Algerian supporters of the National Liberation Front (NLF) against a curfew imposed on Algerians.
Macron’s office said in a statement that the march was “violent, brutal and bloody” and that about 12,000 Algerians had been arrested, many wounded and dozens killed.
Macron attended a memorial service on a bridge in Bison, west of Paris, where some Algerians began their march, where several bodies were recovered from the scene.
“President Macron acknowledged the facts: the crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Pope are unforgivable to the Republic,” the Elysee Palace statement said.
French officials have denied, or have long concealed, that the massacre took place during the struggle against French rule in Algeria. The mayor of Paris first recalled the incident in 2001.
The exact number of victims has not yet been determined, but some historians put the death toll at more than 200.
This year’s celebration comes amid diplomatic tensions between Paris and Algeria.
Earlier this month, Algeria summoned its ambassador to Paris, citing statements made to Macron, citing the Le Monde newspaper as saying that Algeria’s rulers had rewritten its colonial history on the basis of “hatred of France”.
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