France will formally acknowledge the French military’s systemic use of torture in the Algerian War in the 1950s and 1960s, an unprecedented step forward in grappling with its long-suppressed legacy of colonial crimes.
President Emmanuel Macron announced his watershed decision in the context of a call for clarity on the fate of Maurice Audin, a Communist mathematician and anti-colonial activist who was tortured by the French army and forcibly disappeared in 1957, during Algeria’s bloody struggle for independence from France.
Audin’s death is a specific case, but it represents a cruel system put in place at the state level, the Elysee Palace said. “It was nonetheless made possible by a legally instituted system: the ‘arrest-detention’ system, set up under the special powers that [had] been entrusted by law to the armed forces at that time,” reads a statement that was to be released by Macron’s office Thursday, seen by Le Monde newspaper.
Benjamin Stora, a leading French historian of Algeria who has written more than 20 books on the subject, said that Macron’s decision represented a move away from “the silence of the father” that has characterized France’s relationship to its colonial past for decades. [Continue reading…]