Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Paris massacre that time forgot, 51 years on

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012   No comments

Fifty-one years to the day, French President François Hollande has recognised the October 17, 1961 massacre of Algerian protesters in Paris. Historian Jean-Luc Einaudi talks to FRANCE 24 about one of the darkest chapters of French colonial history.
By Tahar HANI 
Exactly 51 years after one of the murkiest episodes in recent French history, French President François Hollande recognised on Wednesday the "bloody repression" of Algerian protesters by French police that took place in the heart of Paris on October 17, 1961.

On that fateful day, French police – under the leadership of Paris prefect Maurice Papon – brutally crushed peaceful demonstrations of Algerian anti-war protesters who had gathered in and around the French capital to protest against a French security crackdown in Algeria.

The incident occurred at the height of the Algerian war of independence, when the French colonial administration was locked in a bitter battle with the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) – the Algerian party fighting for the North African nation’s liberation from France.

More than half-a-century later, the details surrounding the October 17 massacre – including the casualty figures – remain murky. A day after the demonstrations, the left-leaning French newspaper Libération reported the official toll as two dead, several wounded and 7,500 arrests. The death toll, however, was disputed by the FLN, which claimed that dozens were killed.  Many of the bodies were found floating in the River Seine.


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