By François Forgue
[reprinted from Issue no. 212 (Oct. 30, 2019) of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France / POID]
Sixty-five years ago, on November 1, 1954, what was known in France as the “Algerian War” began. It was a bloody war that lasted eight years, marked by massacres and systematic use of torture. It was a war that claimed the lives of nearly 1.5 million Algerians, and that was responsible for the deaths of thousands of young French people, sacrificed to the drive by French imperialism to preserve its colonial empire at any cost.
For the Algerian people, the period from 1954 to 1962 was that of the war of liberation. It was a victorious war: Although France, one of the most powerful imperialist powers in the world, had mobilized the greatest means of destruction against the Algerian Revolution, it was forced to admit defeat in the face of the determination of an entire people. The Algerian people drove out the colonizer and asserted themselves as an independent nation.
The working people of Algeria today are standing up to impose democracy and regain control of their wealth. They stand on the shoulders of those who, in 1954, after decades of struggle against colonial oppression and fierce waves of repression, began the uprising that led to an independent Algeria.
Salute to the Algerian people and to their combatants on November 1, 1954, and to the French worker militants who, from the very first day, did not accept the characterizations of the Algerians as “bandits” or “terrorists” — epithets used to target all those who fought for the right of the Algerian people to decide their future and who opposed the colonial war!
We salute the memory of militants such as Maître Yves Dechezelles, anarcho-syndicalist militant and trade union leader Alexandre-Hébert, and socialist militant Marceau Pivert.
We also recall the fight of Trotskyist militants Pierre Lambert, Daniel Renard, Stéphane Just and Gérard Bloch, who were brought before the military courts because their weekly newspaper La Vérité, the publication of the Internationalist Communist Party (PCI), gave its unconditional support to the right of the Algerian people to self-determination, and proclaimed before their judges: “The most important thing for us is to defend the working class and democratic principles of Marxism which are at the core of our political activity; the fight for the right of the Algerian people to self-determination is part of the proletarian world revolution.”
Two years after the war began, in 1956, French voters sent a majority of deputies from the Socialist Party and the French Communist Party to the Parliament. In March 1956, turning their backs on this mandate, the SP-CP majority voted to adopt “special powers” that gave carte blanche to those who wanted to annihilate the Algerian people.
On March 16, 1956, in La Vérité, Pierre Lambert wrote: “How dare they? Two months after the elections, Parliament declared war. The Algerian people want to live free and independent; no force in the world can defeat this common will of emancipation of our two peoples. This is the certainty that will remain at the basis of our policy, in conformity with the sentiments of all the militant workers, socialists, communists, union members of the CGT, union members of the FO, unorganized; in conformity with the sentiments of the vast majority of the French people.”
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Algeria’s Revolutionary Continuity:
“I do not recognize this illegitimate government!“
(statement by Lakhdar Bouregâa before his judges)
The mujahideen [combatant of the war of national liberation] Lakhdar Bouregâa was commander of Wilaya [region] No. IV of the National Liberation Army, then one of the founders, in 1963, of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS). He was summoned on October 22, 2019, by the investigating judge of the Bir Mourad-Rais Court (Algiers) and refused to answer the judge: “I do not recognize this illegitimate government, and I will not betray the hirak [the popular movement that erupted on Feb. 22 – editor’s note]”, he said.
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