French forces “tortured and murdered” Algerian freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel during his country’s war for independence, President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged on Tuesday and officially re-evaluated a death that was covered as a suicide.
Macron made the recognition “in the name of France” during a meeting with Boumendjel’s grandchildren.
The move comes after Macron caused outrage in January when he refused to issue an official apology for abuses committed during the occupation of Algeria.
Instead, he agreed to form a “truth commission” recommended by a report commissioned by the government to shed light on France’s colonial past.
France is home to millions of people with links to Algeria – including descendants of former French colonists – and the brutal eight-year Algerian war of independence has been a deeply divisive issue between France and its former colony as well as within France’s large Muslim population.
Torture, disappearances and deaths in detention as well as during security operations marked the war, but successive French presidents have eliminated a conflict associated with national humiliation and brutality.
Boumendjel, a nationalist and lawyer, was arrested during the Battle of Algiers by the French army, “placed in communication, tortured and then killed on March 23, 1957,” the Elysée Palace said in a statement.
“Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed,” Macron told Boumendjel’s grandson, according to the statement.
A “devastating” lie for many years
This is not the first time the real cause of death has been acknowledged.
In 2000, the former head of French intelligence in Algiers, Paul Aussaresses, admitted to ordering Boumendjel’s death and disguised the murder as a suicide, according to the statement.
It added that on Tuesday, Macron also reiterated his desire to give families the opportunity to find out the truth about this chapter in history.
Last month, Boumendjel’s niece Fadela Boumendjel-Chitour condemned what she called the “devastating” lie the French state had said about its uncle.
” Infinite memory war ”
The French historian Benjamin Stora, who wrote the government-commissioned report, has said that there is an “endless war of memories” between the two countries.
The report has been described by the Algerian government as “not objective” and falls “below expectations.”
During the 2017 presidential campaign, Macron caused a sensation by declaring that the colonization of Algeria was a “crime against humanity.”
A year later, he acknowledged that France had launched a system that facilitated torture during Algeria’s war of 1954-1962, which ended 132 years of French rule.
But Macron has since ruled out an official apology, claiming it was “not a matter of showing remorse” or “presenting an apology” for the occupation of Algeria or the war.
( Jowharwith AFP)