The wreath of tricolor flowers, encircled with the “President of the Republic” ribbon, was placed on the boards of the promenade of the Pont de Bezons, where the bodies of FLN demonstrators were thrown into the water on October 17. 1961. Emmanuel Macron froze in a solemn moment of silence, serious face. “I am moved to be there”, he will slip later. In front of him, the course of the Seine is just disturbed by the intermittent passage of barges gliding under the autumn sun between Saint-Denis and Reuil-Malmaison.
This Saturday, October 16, sixty years after the facts, the Head of State knows that the least of his gestures on this theater of one of the great tragedies of the period of the Algerian war is watched, scrutinized. And that the least of his words will carry, including beyond the Mediterranean. The event is one of the highlights of the “Memorial reconciliation” that he calls his wishes around Algeria, his poisoned heritages and his desires for the future.
At the foot of Bezons, alongside the various “memory bearers” (children of FLN families, harkis, black feet, etc.) united in emotion, there were clasped hands, hugs, slipped words. in the ear, white roses thrown by each other on the waves. But there was no speech. It was a bias of the Elysee Palace which considered that its only ” presence “ was eloquent. The presidential word will fall later in the form of a press release that everyone will discover, happy, half-satisfied or disappointed depending on the level of their expectations.
“A brutal, violent, bloody repression”
In this text, Mr. Macron recalls ” the tragedy “ d’“A brutal, violent, bloody repression” with its “Several dozen killed” and “The bodies thrown into the Seine”. And he adds, the most anticipated formula since he had to qualify the facts at one point: “The crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic. “ He therefore avoids the word “state crime” that the associations of memory of October 17, 1961. He also avoids mentioning the responsibility of the police institution in the commission of these “ crimes “. It is only a question of “The authority of Maurice Papon”, the police chief at the time, promoted to scapegoat for the entire “ tragedy ».
Around the president, the emotion is palpable, especially since he wanted to address the various representatives in complete privacy, to listen to their grievances, their pains and their hopes. “It’s a very important moment, it’s recognition that repairs”, abounds Zina Berrahal, daughter of a demonstrator of October 17, 1961. “I would have liked to hear this speech because I know that these are his own words, comments Mehdi Ali Boumendjel, grandson of Ali Boumendjel, Algerian nationalist lawyer “Tortured then murdered” by the military in the midst of the Battle of Algiers in 1957. But recognizing the facts as he spoke them is a real step forward. ”
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