October 18, 2021
Emmanuel Macron pays tribute to the victims of the repression of October 17, 1961, at the foot of the Pont de Bezons, in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine), on October 16, 2021. JEAN-CLAUDE COUTAUSSE FOR “THE WORLD”
“The crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic. “ This was therefore the verdict announced by Emmanuel Macron, Saturday, October 16, during a long-awaited ceremony in memory of the Algerian victims of the massacre of October 17, 1961. The formula a bit convoluted, where the unsaid is just as heavy that said, was not pronounced during the minute of silence observed by the Head of State on the banks of the Seine in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine) near the Bezons bridge, there even where bodies of National Liberation Front (FLN) demonstrators were thrown by the police into the waves during that bloody night in autumn 1961.Read also What happened on October 17, 1961 in Paris?
The presidential word fell in the form of a press release disseminated at the end of the official tribute, made in the presence of the various “bearers of memories” of the Algerian war (children of families of the FLN, of harkis, of black feet, etc.) united in emotion. The physical participation of the Head of State in this sixtieth anniversary of the tragedy, whose balance sheet still uncertain amounts to several dozen FLN sympathizers killed, is one of the highlights of the process of “Memorial reconciliation” which he calls for around Algeria, its poisoned inheritances and its desires for the future.
Protect the police institution
Everything has been carefully weighed and calculated in the presidential statement where the half-step taken, incontestable advance compared to the silences or the prudence of his predecessors at the Elysee Palace, underlines in hollow the half-step which, him, has not been accomplished, to the great disappointment of the activists of the memory of October 17, 1961. In addition to a physical presence at such a commemoration, which constitutes a great first for a Head of State – just as is unpublished the wreath “In memory of the dead of October 17, 1961” filed on Sunday on the Saint-Michel bridge by the Paris police prefect, Didier Lallement -, Mr. Macron certainly goes further than François Hollande in 2012. The latter stuck, through a press release, to the simple formula of “Bloody repression”. The current tenant of the Elysée uses the same expression – adding, in passing, the qualifiers of ” brutal “ and “Violent” – to then denounce “Crimes committed by Maurice Papon”, who, he specifies, are “Inexcusable for the Republic”.Read also Article reserved for our subscribers “The massacre of October 17, 1961 is a state lie which began with the denial of the victims of police repression”
François Hollande was, at the time, criticized by memory activists on October 17, 1961 for “Not to have named the authors” of said ” repression “. Mr. Macron appoints one. But only one: Maurice Papon. And yet the latter is not even designated under his functions at the time, those of Paris police prefect, as if he had acted in an individual capacity. The presidential statement carefully avoids any reference to the police institution. As well as to the hierarchical superiors of Papon, in this period of the end of the Algerian war: the Minister of the Interior, Roger Frey, the Prime Minister, Michel Debré, and, of course, General de Gaulle, in the supreme magistracy. Mr. Macron will therefore have evaded the words of “State crime” what associations expected of him. “Papon is the guilty expiatory, deplores Mehdi Lallaoui, founder of the association In the name of memory and co-director of the documentary The Silence of the River. MM. de Gaulle, Debré and Frey nevertheless played a role in the process of covering up the October crimes. “