Omer Aymali / History / World Bulletin
In the year 1830 with the French forces invading the Algerian capital, the 130 year enslavement process of the Algerian population began. Up until the Second World War, the Algerian Arabs fought with the resistance forces that they managed to establish. However the French invading forces tried every form of pressure to break the Algerian population’s resistance and stop the pro-independence movement from spreading, using military, political, religious, cultural and economic forces to do so. As for the rebellions, they savagely suppressed them at the expense of turning every place in the country into a bloodbath, and murdered hundreds of thousands of people.
The years between 1948-52 was a period for preparation against the invasion in Algeria. The Victory of Democratic Freedom Movement (Harakatu’l-Intisar li’l-Hurriyah wa’d-Dimukratiyyah) which was established under the leadership of Messali Haj, carried out activities as an organizational structure. This organization began to take action against the French administration in 1950. One group which was not satisfied with Messali Haj’s leadership and their peaceful democratic administration, separated itself under the name of the National Liberation Front (FLN-Front de Libération Nationale). With the establishment of the FLN on November 1, 1954 and the growing number of attacks in various places in Algeria on targets including the military facilities, depos, communication facilities and public buildings, the war for freedom in Algeria officially began.
National Liberation Front – FLN
The French Interior Minister Francois Mitterand said this in response to these developments: “I will never accept having meetings and negotiations with the enemy of the motherland. The only negotiations we’ll have with them is war!” The answer from the French to the Algerian peoples for independence was war. However, in 1960, France dispatched three hundred and sixty thousand soldiers to Algeria to try to keep the region in its control at all costs.
The war which resulted in a genocide in Algeria caused a reaction in the hundreds of thousands of Algerians living in France. The FLN organization decided that is was a good idea to get the Algerians in France into action. The peaceful demonstration, which was to take place in Paris, aimed to ensure the end of the war and to raise awareness of it in Europe. For the FLN, for the demonstration to be effective they operated in secret for a long time. However, France didn’t give permission for the demonstration to take place. Alongside those who didn’t want to give permission was the Governor of Paris, Maurice Papon. In the last meeting he had with the Interior Minister, he received full authorization to use force in preventing any form of demonstration from taking place in Paris.
On October 17, nearly thirty thousand Algerian migrants started a peaceful demonstration in protest of the war. With the command of Governor Papo, the demonstration was dispersed. Police were ordered to open fire and a great massacre took place. The police then chased after those who escaped and beat the ones they caught to near death. Thousands of Algerians were wounded, hundreds were killed. The bodies of those murdered on the Saint Michelle Bridge were thrown into the Seine River. Around fourteen thousand people were arrested. They were kept in an outdoor prison for days.
“We drowned the Algerians here”
This massacre, which left a black stain in the history of France, went unseen by the French press and official institutions reported the death toll to be only three people. The presidents' and prime ministers' attitudes were far from apologetic in relation to this taboo. In recent times, this topic has been dealt with more objectively. In 2001, the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, erected a monument at Pont Saint Michel in memory of the massacre. In 2012, French Prime Minister in Francois Hollande stated that “he sincerely remembers all those who lost their lives in the October 17, 1961 drama”.
When it came to the fight for independence in Algeria, France was forced to change their politics due to the problems which kept arising and eventually turned into a deep crisis, thus forcing them to start meetings with the FLN. In 1962, a peace treaty was agreed. In Algeria on July 1, 1962, a referendum for independence was held. Two days after this referendum, French Prime Minister De Gaulle conceded the independence of Algeria.Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Mayıs 2014, 10:22