Assassination of Ali Boumendjel: Paris recognizes, Algiers does not react

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History seems to send tragic signals with certain date coincidences. As the historian Malika Rahal, of the CNRS, author of an imposing biography on Ali Boumendjel, recalls, “March 2, the day of this recognition, was the birthday of Malika Boumendjel, who was awaiting this gesture. She was a chic and funny woman who never gave up, and who had given plenty of time to this recognition since she lived to be 102 years old… She died in August 2020, and therefore will not have attended . ” On March 2, President Emmanuel Macron received at the Élysée Palace four of Ali Boumendjel’s grandchildren “to tell them, on behalf of France, what Malika Boumendjel would have liked to hear: Ali Boumendjel did not is not committed suicide. He was tortured, then murdered, ”according to the French presidency statement.

Symbolic gestures and citizen mobilizations

A recognition made from one of the recommendations of Benjamin Stora’s report on the memory of the Algerian war and colonization, given to Emmanuel Macron on January 20. “It is also a personal story for me. I was a friend of Samy’s [un des fils d’Ali Boumendjel] »Said to El Watan historian Benjamin Stora. “It’s a promise I made to the family two years ago. We must take the measure of each step taken and propose others. A gesture follows a gesture, ”he added. For the historian, “symbolic gestures can only have impact if they are supported by citizen mobilizations, on each of the issues, the archives, nuclear tests, the missing. […] I think that the decisions of States must be linked with the movements of societies. This is mainly my concern. ”

Reacting to her report the day after it was handed over to Emmanuel Macron, the niece of the intellectual and nationalist activist Ali Boumendjel, the professor of medicine very involved in the feminist struggle in Algeria Fadéla Boumendjel-Chitour, had declared to AFP that ” French politicians do not understand to what extent entire families have been devastated by state lies, “wishing France to finally recognize that” colonialism is an attack on human dignity in the same way as the Shoah and the slavery ”. “But why single him out? We need the truth for everyone. Famous or anonymous. Why not celebrate the unknown martyr? Asked Boumendjel’s niece. “Today there are probably tens of thousands of Algerian families, as the collection of testimonies by the site shows, whose quest for truth and justice, even symbolic, remains keen. All of them obviously expect and deserve what the French President said to the Audin and Boumendjel families: the truth, ”historian Fabrice Riceputi, founder and co-host, explains to Point Afrique, with Malika Rahal, of the site, around of those who disappeared from the “Battle of Algiers”.

“Individual recognition, sprinkled”

“There is no question of calling into question the merits of the official recognition by the Elysee of the crime committed in March 1957 by the French army on the person of Ali Boumendjel. No more than that concerning Maurice Audin, which was expressed by the Élysée in 2018 ”, relaunches Fabrice Riceputi. “That said, we can only notice that the Audin declaration from the Élysée Palace in September 2018 recognized that Maurice Audin had been the victim of a“ system of terror ”. This is also true for Ali Boumendjel, but is no longer said in the statement made [le 2 mars]. It is regrettable. Is it because he was a “French Muslim”, member of the FLN? In addition, one can only wonder about what is really targeted by this memorial policy which acts by individual recognition, sprinkled, on a case by case basis, even if these cases seem emblematic. “” In reality, it seems to me that the French State is still trying to avoid recognizing what will have to be recognized one day: the first and essential responsibility of France in all the sufferings of the Algerian war, that of the Algerians, but also those of the Pieds-Noirs, the harkis and the military. All stem from the establishment of a system of iniquitous domination and contrary to the values ​​proclaimed by France: colonization, which lasted 132 years in Algeria. France owes this truth first to itself, ”adds Fabrice Riceputi.

As Malika Rahal also recalls, March 3 or 4, 1957 is the date of the assassination, also made up as suicide, by the paratroopers of General Paul Aussaresses de Larbi Ben M’hidi, one of the founders of the FLN and colonel of the ‘National Liberation Army. The French government had opened access to a hundred archival files on those who disappeared from the Algerian war in April 2020. These files were established by the “Commission for the Protection of Individual Rights and Freedoms”, created in May 1957 by the President of the Council Guy Mollet and whose mission was to investigate the reality of military repression and the existence of torture and disappearances during the “Battle of Algiers” (January-September 1957).

The creation of this commission, at the time, was precisely motivated by the suspicious deaths of Ben M’hidi and Boumendjel and by the mobilization of French personalities, such as Vercors who makes his Legion of Honor or the General Pâris de la Bollardière, the most decorated soldier in France for acts of war and resistance, who asks to be relieved of his command rather than applying the orders of his superior, General Massu, patron of the paratroopers in Algiers.

“A courageous symbolic act”, according to Samir Bouakouir

“The recognition by France, through the official voice of President Macron, of the assassination by the French army of one of the figures of nationalism, Ali Boumendjel, after that of the disappearance of Maurice Audin, is a gesture to be welcomed. and which calls for others, in particular the recognition also of the assassination of one of the founders of the historic FLN, Larbi Ben M’hidi ”, called Samir Bouakouir, leading executive of the Front des forces socialistes (FFS, oldest opposition party). The politician, one of the few to react publicly to the silence of the political class and officials in Algiers – in particular of the history adviser to the presidency, Abdelmadjid Chikhi -, specifies that, “contrary to the reaction of those who , in Algeria, transformed the ideal of the November revolution [1954] into a “goodwill” and a political rent, this is a courageous symbolic act on the part of Emmanuel Macron, especially when we measure the power of the far-right and identity movements and their capacity to influence large sections of French society and beyond ”.

« Irresponsible! » replica Marine Le Pen

As a reminder, the president of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, tweeted yesterday Wednesday by reacting to the Elyos announcement: “The fact of directly pointing out the responsibility of the French army as the president does is irresponsible at a time when it is sometimes violently contested by certain local populations in its intervention in the Sahel. It is putting our soldiers in danger. ”

“We don’t have the list of our martyrs”

During his recent media meeting, Monday 1is In March, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune spoke of the existence in France of “powerful lobbies”, including one “involving neighbors [visant le Maroc] who works to parasitize relations between the two countries and another representing those who have lost their paradise [l’Algérie], what is left in their throats ”. The French president, he continued, “is aware of the powerful lobby which seeks to undermine relations between the two countries”. Mr. Tebboune also assured that his “cordial” relationship with his French counterpart made it possible “to alleviate a certain tension in the positions”, while affirming that “the good relations of Algeria could not be to the detriment of the History or memory ”, as we approach another symbolic date, that of March 19, the date of the signing of the Evian agreements which ended the Algerian war, celebrated in France, since 2021 as National Day of Remembrance and Recollection in memory of the civilian and military victims of the Algerian War and the fighting in Tunisia and Morocco, and in Algeria as Victory Day.


On the columns ofEl Watan, this Thursday, March 4, the historian Fouad Soufi wanted to reframe the debate on the Algerian side: “Now, it’s up to us to do the work. It is not for the French to say “we killed”. It is up to us to establish who they killed and under what conditions they committed these crimes. We have been independent for almost sixty years and we do not have a list of our martyrs. It has to be done in every village, in every town. We are responsible for doing this work. We should not wait for the French to do it. And we can’t just continually react, we have to act. ”

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