By Abderrazak Boulkemh and Zeynep Hilal Karyadi
ALGIERS, Algeria (AA) – Rebuffing controversial statements by France’s president about the colonial period in Algeria, the nation's parliament Saturday said that on a single day in 1961, some 300 peaceful Algerians were massacred by the French police.
A special session of the National People's Assembly, the lower house of Algeria’s parliament, was held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Oct. 17, 1961 massacre in Paris, when peaceful demonstrators supporting the independence movement in their country were suppressed by the French police.
The massacre, according to Parliament Speaker Ibrahim Boughali, remains a shameful stain on France, because crimes against humanity do not expire.
A statement by the Algerian Information Ministry stated that the Algerian demonstrators in France were civilians who were subjected to brutality, torture, and killing.
“In a country that falsely markets itself as a human rights defender, the intervention against the demonstrators left 300 dead, including women, children, and the elderly,” the statement said.
The memory of the Paris massacre, when the demonstrators were killed and thrown into the Seine River for supporting the Algerian War of Independence, is still alive after 60 years, it added.
According to the statement, France tried to hide the scale of the massacre for 37 years, falsely announcing in 1998 that only 40 people had been killed in the protests.
On Oct. 17, 2001, 40 years after the massacre, the Paris mayor erected a plaque at Pont Saint-Michel in remembrance of the lives lost.
Earlier this month Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, said: “The building of Algeria as a nation is a phenomenon worth watching. Was there an Algerian nation before French colonization? That is the question.”
The remarks were criticized by Turkish leaders and others as being a cheap demagogic ploy ahead of next year’s elections.