Macron admitting French colonialist murder, not punishing perpetrators


This 28 March 2018 video says about itself:

The Maurice Audin case, a 60-year-long battle for the truth

In 1957, at the height of the Battle of Algiers, Maurice Audin, a 25-year-old mathematician and communist, is taken from his home in Algiers in the middle of the night by French soldiers. His wife never hears from him again.

More than six decades after his disappearance, Audin’s family is still fighting to know his fate. A program prepared by Patrick Lovett and Rebecca Martin.

By Francis Dubois and Alex Lantier in France:

Macron whitewashes French state murder of Maurice Audin

1 October 2018

A crime that is confessed loudly and without consequence is no guarantee of future good conduct on the part of the criminal. This is the impression left by President Emmanuel Macron’s admission last month that the French state tortured and murdered the young mathematician Maurice Audin in 1957 in Algiers, during the Algerian war, because of his political positions.

Before a raft of TV cameras, Macron personally gave Audin’s widow a statement approved by the defense ministry. The statement admits that Audin was “tortured and then executed or tortured to death by the troops who had arrested him.”

Macron then whitewashed the crime, claiming there was a juridical foundation for the mass torture and murder perpetrated by the French government during the Algerian war. Historians, he said, “all agree to recognize that Maurice Audin’s death was made possible by a legally instituted system that favored disappearances and allowed torture for political ends.”

This does not only mean that this confession should have no consequences for officers who carried out the repression in Algeria, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front (FN) and father of neo-fascist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. If Macron insists that the juridical context of Audin’s state murder was legal, it is because the emergency legislation of 1955-1956 that led to Audin’s killing underpins Macron’s policies of austerity and militarism today.

Macron and the preceding Socialist Party (PS) government imposed laws authorizing mass spying and the labor law that suspends the Labor Code during the 2015-2017 state of emergency. The National Assembly had created the state of emergency in 1955 specifically to crush the movement against French colonial rule in Algeria. The 1955 law was part of a raft of emergency measures adopted at the time, including the 1956 “special powers” decree, that encouraged torture and murder.

“This system unfortunately was the source of acts that were sometimes terrible, including torture”, Macron said. “By failing to prevent and punish the use of torture, successive governments endangered the survival of the men and women detained by the security forces. Yet in the final analysis, it is with them [the military-police apparatus] that rests the responsibility for the safekeeping of human rights and, first of all, the physical integrity of those detained under their sovereignty.”

This is the outlook of the president of a police state, not of a democratic republic. Woe betide those countries that grant unchecked and absolute powers to the police, hoping to save their rights; they have only ever gotten bloody dictatorships in return. The task of defending democratic rights against the state and the ruling classes falls not to the police, but to the population and above all to the working class.

Audin’s murder is a warning about the implications of imperialist war that echoes still 60 years later, as France and NATO wage wars from Mali across the Middle East all the way to Afghanistan. The attempts of the most powerful capitalist states to dominate countries and entire regions by force is criminal and reactionary all down the line. It implicates imperialist states, whether or not they are formally parliamentary-democratic, in crimes against foreign peoples and their own citizens.

Audin died under the parliamentary regime set up in France after World War II, as General Massu, to whom Guy Mollet’s social-democratic government had granted arbitrary powers, occupied Algiers at the head of a division of paratroopers. Audin, a member of the Algerian Communist Party, supported Algerian independence … . In June 1957, Massu and his adjunct, Paul Aussaresses, had Audin arrested, tortured, and murdered.

This murder symbolized the broader criminality of a war that claimed a half million lives. Of Algeria’s population of 10 million at the time, France detained 3 million in internment camps. Also, 25,000 French troops died during the war, and 60,000 were wounded. Of the 1.5 million French troops who participated in the war, mostly young draftees, many came back lastingly traumatized by what they had seen and done.

The war revealed French imperialism for what it is. Barely a decade after World War II, in an attempt to maintain its neocolonial pillage of the Maghreb, the French bourgeoisie committed many of the crimes the Nazi Gestapo had committed in occupied France. Thousands of former SS soldiers or “Prussian knights” of the Nazi army, recruited into the French Foreign Legion, fought in French colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria.

Since then, successive French governments, both right-wing and social democratic, coldly denied the state’s responsibility for Audin’s murder, in order to whitewash imperialism and militarism before French and world opinion. But for masses of youth and workers at the time, the crimes committed in Algeria deeply discredited the French capitalist regime set up under the leadership of De Gaulle … after World War II.

The “model” of the battle of Algiers, that is to say mass arrests and torture, was followed internationally. At Fort Bragg, Aussaresses taught counterinsurgency strategies to the US armed forces used in Latin America and in Vietnam during the CIA’s bloody Operation Phoenix. He explained there that “in a revolutionary war, the enemy is the population”, and that torture victims should be “executed.” At the same time, a broad antiwar movement was developing among youth around the world against the Vietnam War.

The official reception in France to Macron’s speech on Audin is a warning: it is urgent to build a new movement against war and dictatorship. …

The example of the Algerian war points to the necessity to build a mass movement against war in the international working class … And as official circles reinforce mass spying and far-right parties across Europe, Audin’s murder points to the necessity to oppose states of emergency and police-state rule.

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French government admits army torture in Algeria at last


This 2000 Associated Press video says about itself:

General Paul Aussaresses, France’s intelligence chief during the Algerian independence war, four decades ago, now says that “everybody knew” he and his subordinates were conducting torture during the Battle of Algiers.

The 83-year-old General who first admitted to torture and summary executions in an autobiography published last week, now says he has regrets but no remorse because remorse implies guilt of which he has none. Aussaresses’ admission of torture and summary executions, published last week in an interview and a book, “horrified” President Jacques Chirac and plunged France into a self-examination of the nearly eight-year-long war that ended in 1962 with Algerian independence.

The French League of Human Rights filed a lawsuit on Friday against the general, saying the substance of his book constituted an apology for war crimes. Other groups said they planned to file suit for war crimes despite a 1968 French amnesty. The general was intelligence chief, and a leading figure during the brutal 1957 Battle of Algiers. His lapel carried the red Legion of Honor insignia that Chirac said he wants withdrawn. Chirac on Friday also asked Defence Minister Alain Richard to explore eventual sanctions, likely to be symbolic given the general’s age.

Asked personally how he could allow torture to be used during the Battle of Algiers, the General said it was difficult but he ordered his men to do so because he had no choice. However, he indicated that with one copy going to the government’s direct representative – there was no written proof of what was going on. This was despite a daily report he wrote on his division’s activities.

… He said that in his case torture was necessary because of the ‘exceptional conditions’ prevailing.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 13 August 2018:

The French state has admitted for the first time that during the Algerian war (1954-1962) the army was guilty of disappearing and torturing political opponents, sometimes resulting in their deaths.

This happened with a visit by President Macron to the 87-year-old widow of Maurice Audin (1932-1957), a mathematician and a communist who committed himself to the Algerian struggle for independence.

Macron admitted that the French state had been responsible for the death of her husband. He asked for forgiveness and promised to open the archives about the war. “Everyone must know the truth”, he said. He also summoned witnesses to the death of Audin to report and make a statement.

Murdered or tortured to death

Audin was arrested by French soldiers in Algeria in 1957 and did not survive. He may have been tortured to death. His body has never been recovered. Macron’s predecessor Hollande never went beyond the statement that Audin had died in captivity.

The death of Audin became the symbol of bloody repression of Algerian independence. A square in the capital Algiers has been named after him.

Marcel Audin in 1950, AFP photo

A statement issued today by the presidential palace shows how soldiers were able to remove people who had committed themselves to the Algerian struggle for independence.

The military were given special powers to pick up, detain and question any suspected person. “Unfortunately, this system became the basis for terrible acts, such as torture in the Audin affair”, the statement said.

In that system, torture was regarded as “a legitimate means”, not only against the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) but also against everyone who sympathized with the FLN.

Relationship with Algeria

… The Franco-Algerian relationship is still bitter because of the cruelty that accompanied the struggle at the time.

The number of deaths on the French side is estimated at 17,500, with 300,000 on the FLN side. Estimates on the number of civilians killed range from 350,000 to 1.5 million.

Given the angry mood among workers in France and across Europe, and the widespread hatred of President Emmanuel Macron, it was perhaps inevitable that the passing of right-wing President Jacques Chirac Thursday would trigger an outpouring of official tributes. The last two years have undermined the self-confidence of the political establishment. The eruption of strikes in America, France and across Europe, and mass political protests by the “yellow vests” in France and by workers and youth in Sudan, Algeria and Hong Kong have marked a resurgence of international class struggle. Chirac’s death reminds PR executives, intelligence officials and editorial writers alike that everything seemed safer and more predictable under his presidency (1995-2007): here.

European Union policies kill refugees in Algerian desert


This 25 June 2018 video says about itself:

🇳🇬 Deported by Algeria, migrants abandoned in the Sahara Desert | Al Jazeera English

The United Nations migration agency says Algeria has neglected more than 13,000 migrants in the Sahara Desert in the past 14 months. The migrants, who include pregnant women and children, are left without food or water and forced to walk long distances.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

By Bill Van Auken:

Thousands of refugees forced onto death march into Sahara desert

26 June 2018

More than 13,000 refugees and migrants, including pregnant women and children, have been force-marched into the Sahara desert by Algerian security forces over the past 14 months, where many of them have died from hunger and exposure.

The shocking revelation by the Associated Press was substantiated by videos showing hundreds of migrants stumbling through a sand storm and others being driven in massive convoys of overcrowded trucks to be dumped at Algeria’s southern border with Niger and forced into the desert at gunpoint.

As the AP itself makes clear, the murderous policy of the Algerian government is being carried out at the behest of the countries of the European Union, which have increasingly sought to induce North African regimes to act as their border guards, impeding the flow of migrants by means of intimidation, violence and death.

The refugees are being forced by Algerian security forces into the Sahara without food or water and, in many cases, after being robbed of their money and cellphones. They are pointed in the direction of the nearest settlement in Niger, over nine miles away, across empty sands where the temperature rises as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

The migrants told AP of “being rounded up hundreds at a time, crammed into open trucks headed southward for six to eight hours to what is known as Point Zero, then dropped in the desert and pointed in the direction of Niger. They are told to walk, sometimes at gunpoint.”

Two dozen different migrants who survived the crossing told the news agency that in their groups a number were unable to go on and died in the desert. “Women were lying dead, men … Other people got missing in the desert because they didn’t know the way”, said Janet Kamara of Liberia, who was pregnant when she was forced across the border. “Everybody was just on their own.”

Kamara’s baby died at birth and she was forced to bury him in a shallow grave in the desert. “I lost my son, my child”, she said.

While the world’s media has focused on the dangerous crossing from northern Africa to southern Europe having turned the Mediterranean into a watery graveyard for countless thousands, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), for every refugee who drowns in the sea, two more succumb to the relentless heat and harsh conditions of the Sahara. It estimates that the death toll in the desert exceeds 30,000 just since 2014.

The migrants expelled by Algeria come from countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Niger, Mali, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Liberia and others.

“They come by the thousands … I’ve never seen anything like it”, Alhoussan Adouwal, an IOM official in Assamaka, Niger told AP. “It’s a catastrophe.”

A spokesperson for the European Union told AP that the EU is aware of what Algeria is doing with refugees and migrants, but that its view is that “sovereign countries” can carry out such expulsions so long as they comply with international law.

The revelations about the horrors inflicted upon refugees in the Sahara desert come on the eve of a summit meeting of EU member states on Thursday to discuss the issue of immigration.

On the eve of the summit, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has been urging EU member states to put more money into an Africa trust fund with an eye toward financing the construction of “migrant screening” camps in North Africa. At the top of the EU summit agenda is expected to be a proposal for holding asylum seekers at such camps in countries that include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.

In the run-up to the summit, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing, anti-immigrant Lega party and Italy’s new interior minister, flew to Tripoli on Monday to praise the regime for its “excellent work” in “rescuing” nearly 1,000 people on Sunday after the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted them. The purpose of the coast guard, which is financed, trained and to some degree directed by Italy and other European powers, is not to rescue refugees trying to reach Europe, but rather to drag them back to Libya. There they face imprisonment in camps where torture and executions are commonplace and even being sold into slavery.

Salvini said that Italy would work with the UN-recognized regime, which controls little outside of Tripoli, to stop a “full-on invasion” of Libyan waters by aid groups seeking to rescue refugees at sea. He also called for migrant detention centers to be placed at Libya’s southern border in the Sahara desert.

Salvini has become infamous for refusing to allow rescue ships carrying refugees to dock at Italian ports. He ordered the Aquarius carrying over 600 refugees, including pregnant women and children, turned back earlier this month, forcing it to make a dangerous voyage to Spain. Presently, there are two ships in limbo in the Mediterranean carrying hundreds of refugees, a boat operated by German aid group Mission Lifeline with 234 aboard, and the Danish-flagged Alexander Maersk cargo ship with 100. In a statement laying bare the depth of the racism and reaction of the new Italian government, Salvini referred to the refugees as “human meat”.

Meanwhile the new PSOE government in Spain, which allowed the Aquarius to dock and condemned the Italian response, dispatched its own interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to Morocco with much the same mission as Salvini’s in Libya, securing cooperation for immigrant detention camps.

Spain’s new development minister, Jose Luis Abalos, told Cadena Ser radio that, while Spain is taking “a respectful humanitarian approach” toward the refugees’ plight, it had no intention of becoming “Europe’s maritime rescue organization.”

Human rights groups have warned that refugees will be subject to abuse and denied asylum rights if kept in camps in Libya, Egypt and other North African countries with records of massive human rights abuses. EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is playing a central role in plans for setting up these centers, responded to these concerns last week, declaring, “I want to be very clear on that. I’m against a Guantanamo Bay for migrants.” He was referring to the Guantanamo Bay Naval base prison camp where those rounded up in the US “war on terror” were

rather: are

subjected to systematic torture.

In Europe, as in the US—where President Donald Trump has expressed his own desire to throw Central American refugees back into the desert without any asylum proceedings—the number of refugees and migrants has actually fallen steadily, even as the political hysteria whipped up by right-wing governments and politicians has sharply escalated.

According to the UN refugee agency, the number of migrants arriving in Europe is on track to reach just half the number for last year, and less than a quarter the number in 2016.

The “immigration crisis”, both in Europe and America, is a noxious political invention, aimed at dividing the working class and scapegoating the most oppressed layers of the population and the victims of imperialist war and oppression for the continuously worsening conditions created by capitalism.

White-headed ducks in Spain, Algeria


This 21 June 2016 video shows white-headed ducks in Spain.

Status of the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala in Northeast Algeria: here.

Paris massacre of Algerians, 1961


This video about Franmce says about itself:

The 1961 Paris Massacre

The murder of hundreds of Algerian protestors was covered up by the French government for decades.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The forgotten Paris massacre

Friday 27th November 2015

PETER FROST looks back to 1961 at another act of bloodshed on the streets of France’s capital

THERE can be no excuse for the brutal acts of terrorism in Paris recently.

Watching the recent TV coverage and reading the papers I kept coming across the phrase “this is the worst atrocity in France since WWII.” Sadly that simply isn’t true.

Let me take you back to October 1961. President Charles de Gaulle was working hard to establish his and France’s pre-eminent position in what was then called the Common Market, a predecessor of the EU founded in 1957.

Britain wouldn’t join until 1973.

The French industrial working class was led by a powerful Communist Party that had earned its reputation and support as the most effective resistance to the nazi occupation forces just a few years before. The Communists were fighting de Gaulle’s right-wing policies — and just as militant as French workers were French farmers.

On the streets of Paris and other French towns, Algerian immigrants were protesting and demanding independence for their north African homeland, which was then a French colony. It would win its freedom in 1962.

The more militant Algerians were organised in the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), the main political party in Algeria. It had a socialist programme and many supporters among the Algerian immigrant population in France.

Opposing them, often with great violence, was the ultra right-wing Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS). These were a group of disaffected army officers, soldiers, veterans of the Foreign Legion, rightist politicians and others determined to keep Algeria a French colony.

The OAS was a well-armed paramilitary organisation. They were happy to use murder and terrorism in their campaign. Their battle cry was “Algeria is French and will remain so.”

Predictably the Algerians in and out of the NLF fought back. They too brought violent protest and mass demonstrations to the streets.

And so the scene was set for what would be an even bigger massacre on the streets of Paris than that of recent days.

A FLN march of 30,000 unarmed Algerian Muslims demonstrated in central Paris against a racist curfew. Seven thousand police and special security forces armed with heavy riot clubs and guns attacked the march and hundreds of Muslims were beaten, shot, strangled and even drowned.

Thousands were rounded up and taken to detention centres around the city where there were more beatings and killings.

Accurate figures for deaths were never issued and the media, which was much more heavily controlled by the state at the time, hushed up and underplayed casualty figures and the events.

How many died? No-one knows for sure. Best estimates suggest more than 200, but later eyewitness reports over the years have indicated the number of victims could be very much higher.

Among those eyewitnesses were some foreign journalists who found their agencies and publications strangely reluctant to print their stories. Some reported piles of Muslim corpses “like piles of logs in a forest.”

They also reported seeing large numbers of drowned bodies floating in the River Seine, where crowds of demonstrators had been driven into the water by armed police. Bodies were being recovered downstream for weeks afterwards.

Thousands of Algerians were rounded up and brought to detention centres, where the violence against them continued. Scores of Algerians were murdered on the orders of senior police officers in the courtyard of the central police headquarters.

The head of Paris police at the time, and the man who ordered the attack on the peaceful march that ended in a massacre, was Maurice Papon. He advised his forces that there would be no action taken against them, however violent or illegal their acts.

Papon was a nazi. When Hitler occupied France he became a leading police officer in the Vichy government that collaborated with the nazi occupying forces.

After the war Papon also tortured prisoners as head of a police department in Algeria during the colonial war.

Rather than being brought to justice, de Gaulle awarded him the Legion of Honour. Papon was finally forced to resign in 1967 after the suspicious disappearance of Moroccan leader Mehdi Ben Barka.

That disgrace didn’t end his public career. Instead he entered parliament and de Gaulle made him a director of the Sud Aviation company, which created Concorde. He became an MP and a millionaire.

Finally in 1981 details about his WWII nazi past emerged in a satirical magazine. In 1998 he was convicted of crimes against humanity for his part in the deportation of more than 1,600 Jews to concentration camps.

He served only four years and was subsequently released from prison in 2002 on the grounds of ill health. He died in 2007.

Just like his WWII war crimes, Papon’s 1961 Paris massacre was largely covered up at the time.

The French press repeated official figures that only two and, later, five people had died in the demonstration.

Government-owned and controlled French TV showed Algerians being shipped out of France after the demonstration, but showed none of the police violence.

In Britain the Establishment media stuck to the official French government version, including lies that the Algerians had opened fire first.

A year later Algeria won its independence. As the French empire slowly crumbled, north African Muslim immigrants faced racism and ghetto living in France. They filled the low-paid anti-social jobs, and predictably resentment grew.

Generations of marginalisation and alienation provided fertile ground for fundamentalism to put down its evil roots.

Other parts of the old French empire have all been major targets for fundamentalist terrorist groups. Places such as Lebanon, where Beirut was once known as the Paris of the Levant; the Sahara state of Mali, when the Foreign Legion held sway in places such as Timbuktu; and Tunisia’s tourist beaches.

There is an old saying: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sadly it seems to be more relevant every day.

Since the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, new revelations have provided more evidence that Islamist elements who launched the attack were well known to the intelligence services before the attack that killed 130 people: here.

Young barn swallows fed, video


Barn swallow parents feed their young so fast that one needs slow motion, like in this video, to really see it.

Peter van de Feen from the Netherlands made this video.

Young barn swallow photos from Bartlehiem: here.

Breeding performance of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) in a North African urban area: what are the impacts of climatic conditions and insecticide applications? The present study examined the effects of climate conditions (temperature, precipitation and wind speed) and human activity (insecticide treatment) on clutch size, number of hatchlings and total productivity of the Barn Swallow in a North African urban area (Guelma, Algeria). Our results demonstrated that climatic conditions did not clearly affect reproductive parameters of this Hirundinidae, unlike insecticide treatments inside nesting-buildings. A seasonal decline of the three studied parameters was recorded. The number of hatchlings and total productivity were greater for first than for second clutches. Likewise, productivity significantly decreased in 2013 compared to 2012. Further research on other environmental factors such as: (i) insect availability; (ii) agricultural activity and (iii) adverse weather events, are an essential track for the implementation of management measures to improve local breeding conditions of this North African urban population: here.

House martin feeds its chick, video


This video is about a house martin nest in Zeeland province in the Netherlands, where a parent feeds its chick.

Bennie Janssens made the video.

Rouaiguia, M., Lahlah, N., Bensaci, E. & Houhamdi, M. (2015). Feeding behaviour and the role of insects in the diet of Northern House-Martin (Delichon urbica meridionalis) nestlings in Northeastern Algeria. African Entomology 23(2): 329–341: here.