Algerian War: Macron recognizes death under the torture of Maurice Audin
AFP / File

Emmanuel Macron took a new step in the memory work on the Algerian war on Thursday by apologizing to the widow of Maurice Audin, 61 years after the death under the torture of this militant communist victim "of the system instituted then in Algeria by France".

The head of state has moved to the home of Josette Audin, 87, to publicly deliver a statement recognizing that the disappearance at age of 25 of Maurice Audin, father of three children, was "made possible by a system of which successive governments have allowed development ".

With this document, the President "recognizes, in the name of the French Republic, that Maurice Audin has been tortured and then executed, or tortured to death (…)." He also acknowledges that if his death is, in the last resort, the fact of some, it has nevertheless been made possible by a system legally instituted: the system + arrest-detention +, set up in favor of the special powers that had been entrusted by law to the armed forces at that time ".

"It's up to me to apologize," said the president to Ms. Audin when she wanted to thank him for this statement made in his apartment in Bagnolet (Seine-Saint-Denis).

Emmanuel Macron, for whom "the Republic can not minimize or excuse the crimes and atrocities committed on both sides” during the Algerian war (1954-1962), also announced the opening of the archives on the subject of the disappeared civilians and military, French and Algerian.

Algerian Mujahideen Minister (ex-combatants) Tayeb Zitouni told private television Ennahar TV that President Emmanuel Macron's decision regarding France's recognition of the assassination of Maurice Audin is a step forward. These crimes "can only be denied by a forgetful and ignorant of history," said Zitouni, ensuring that "the record of memory between France and Algeria” would be "wisely treated by both countries".

On June 11, 1957, in the middle of the battle of Algiers, Maurice Audin, a math assistant at the faculty of Algiers and a member of the Algerian Communist Party, suspected of helping the FLN, was arrested, probably by paratroopers of General Jacques Massu . His trace is lost ten days later.

The official explanation given to his disappearance – "escape during a transfer" – has never convinced his relatives, who will have to wait until 2013 opening the archives of the case.

"Political Act"

In "The truth about the death of Maurice Audin” published in January 2014, the journalist Jean-Charles Deniau concluded that Maurice Audin had been killed by a French non-commissioned officer on the orders of General Massu.

For the historian Patrick Garcia, the gesture of Emmanuel Macron is part of the "continuity” an open process in 1998 with the recognition, by his predecessor Jacques Chirac, the massacres of Setif in May 1945. Francois Hollande, for his part, recognized the repression of the demonstration in October 1961 in Paris, and mentioned several times torture in a speech to the Algerian Parliament in 2012.

But "a threshold has passed with the recognition of torture through the emblematic case of Maurice Audin," says the historian: "Emmanuel Macron is closer to the work of historians who have established things for a long time."

This threshold, Josette Audin thought she would not see him through during his lifetime, she told the press that was waiting with her arrival of the head of state.

The presidential gesture, made on the eve of the opening of the Feast of Humanity, and the day of the announcement of the poverty plan, was immediately hailed on the left, and first and foremost by the Communist Party, which has been pleading since decades alongside the family. Its leader Pierre Laurent sees "a historic victory of truth and justice", rejoicing that falls "a lie of state that lasted for 61 years".

War of memories?

Is Emmanuel Macron's historic decision likely to revive the war of memories, as his statement in February 2017 had done, when the presidential candidate had called Algeria's colonization a "crime against humanity "?

"France is great when it serenely confronts all its past," said PS PS Boris Vallaud.

But for the chairman of the LR group in the Senate Bruno Retailleau, if "we must never fear the truth, (…) we must not instrumentalize history, which is often a French national sport, to fight the blame for life."

"Macron commits an act of division, thinking to flatter the communists," indignant Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally (RN, former FN), whose father Jean-Marie, co-founder of the National Front, said in February that he would have "no doubt” practiced torture in Algeria if asked.

14/09/2018 00:56:57 –
Paris (AFP) –
© 2018 AFP


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