Macron promised that “this work will expand and deepen in the coming months, so that we can move forward towards appeasement and reconciliation.”
The Elysee Palace announced that French President Emmanuel Macron admitted – yesterday, Tuesday – that the lawyer and Algerian national leader Ali Boumendjel was “tortured and killed” by the French army 64 years ago, reversing the French narrative that he committed suicide, and he also received Boumendel’s descendants to correct this mistake.
The French presidency said – in a statement – that Macron himself made this recognition “in the name of France” and in front of Boumendel’s descendants who received them on Tuesday, as part of initiatives recommended by historian Benjamin Stora in his report on the memory of colonialism and the Algerian war that ended in 1962.
The statement added that Boumendjel “was arrested by the French army in the midst of the Battle of Algiers, and he was placed in solitary confinement and tortured, then he was killed on March 23, 1957.”
In his statement, the Elysee continued that in 2000 “(former head of French intelligence in Algeria) Paul Aussaresses personally admitted that he had ordered one of his subordinates to kill (Boumendel) and conceal the crime as suicide.”
According to the statement, Macron received at the Elysee Palace 4 grandchildren of Ali Boumendjel to tell them – in the name of France – what the late widow Malika Boumengel wanted to hear, which is that “Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide, he was tortured and then killed.”
Macron also informed them of his “willingness to continue the work that began many years ago to collect testimonies and encourage the work of historians by opening the archives, in order to give the families of all the missing on both shores of the Mediterranean the means to find out the truth.”
In the statement, the French President stressed that this initiative “is not an isolated act,” stressing that “it is not possible to tolerate or cover up any crime or atrocity committed by anyone during the Algerian war.”
Macron promised in the statement that “this work will expand and deepen in the coming months, so that we can move forward towards appeasement and reconciliation,” calling for “looking at history in its face and recognizing the truth of the facts” in order to “reconcile the memory.”
Boumendjel was a lawyer and activist in the Democratic Union Party for the Algerian Manifesto, which was founded in 1946 by the first president of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic, Ferhat Abbas.
Boumendjel was arrested during the “Battle of Algiers” in 1957, after the special forces of the colonial army intervened to stop the attacks of the National Liberation Front.
Last month, Fadila Boumendjel Chittor, my niece, Ali Boumendjel – who is a professor of medicine and a human rights activist – denounced Paris’s attempt to cover up the murder of her uncle, describing what happened as a “destructive lie of the state.”
Memory of colonialism
Macron’s admission comes a day after television statements by his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in which he said that Algerian-French relations “are currently good,” but that they will not be at the expense of history and memory, considering that what colonialism did “is not an easy matter.”
Tebboune also stressed that the Algerians “will never give up their memories,” commenting on the report of the French historian Stora.
Macron had promised to take “symbolic steps” to overcome the memories of colonialism, but he ruled out an “apology”, and in July the historian Stora was tasked with preparing a “fair” report on the memory of colonialism, a report that sparked widespread controversy after Stora presented it to Macron on the 20th Last January.
The report did not propose an apology to Algeria for the crimes committed during 132 years of occupation, but it did present proposals such as transferring the remains of some fighters to the cemetery of the great in France (the Pantheon), returning the skulls of some of them to Algeria, and allocating more space for the history of the two countries in the educational curricula.