The prefect of police of Paris, Didier Lallement, laid a wreath of flowers near the Seine, Sunday, October 17 in the morning, sixty years to the day after the massacre of Algerians under the authority of the prefect of police of the time, Maurice Papon.
At the moment when Didier Lallement laid the wreath of flowers at the level of the Saint-Michel bridge, shortly after 8 a.m., the bell ringed for the dead. Then a minute of silence was observed “In memory of the dead of October 17, 1961”, according to the words spoken by a representative of the police headquarters. Didier Lallement, the first Paris police prefect to pay tribute to the victims, did not speak.
On Saturday, Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that “The crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic”.
“The repression was brutal, violent, bloody. Nearly 12,000 Algerians were arrested and transferred to sorting centers at the Pierre-de-Coubertin stadium, the Palais des sports and other places. In addition to many wounded, several dozen were killed, their bodies thrown into the Seine. Many families never found the remains of their loved ones, who disappeared that night. The President of the Republic pays tribute to the memory of all the victims. “
An unprecedented gesture but “not enough”
An unprecedented gesture for a French president, Mr. Macron participated on Saturday in a tribute on the banks of the Seine, at the height of the Bezons bridge. This bridge was taken sixty years ago by Algerian demonstrators who arrived from the neighboring slum of Nanterre at the appeal of the branch of the National Liberation Front (FLN) installed in France. The president went to lay a wreath, then observed a minute of silence, before speaking with relatives of the victims. He did not, however, make a speech.
Activists regretted that the president did not really recognize, as they ask, a “State crime”. That Mr. Macron denounces “Inexcusable crimes” perpetrated that night against these Algerians who came to demonstrate peacefully in the capital against a curfew ” is not enough “, lamented Rahim Rezigat, 81, formerly of the French Federation of the FLN. Mr. Macron “Plays on words in relation to its electorate, including those nostalgic for French Algeria”, estimated this activist during debates organized in Paris by SOS-Racisme and bringing together actors from this bloody page in the history of France and young people from Ile-de-France.
For his part, Dominique Sopo, the president of SOS-Racisme, stressed to Agence France-Presse “Welcome advances”, while regretting “Emmanuel Macron’s reluctance” and his “Policy of small steps”. the “Crime is reduced to the responsibility of Maurice Papon. It was not a state within a state ”, believes the association leader, “There was indeed a head of government and a head of state who decided who was the prefect of police. Papon remained in office until 1967 “, recalled Mr. Sopo.
The words of the Elysée are “A step forward, but it is still partial. We hoped for more. Papon did not act alone. We tortured, we massacred in the heart of Paris and, up there, they knew about it ”, reacted for his part Mimouna Hadjam, spokesperson for the association Africa 93 which also claims the “Recognition of a state crime”.
A demonstration called in particular by the League of Human Rights is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Paris, from the Rex to the Pont Saint-Michel.