Algeria 1958

Save Djamila Bouhired

Written: by S. Minguet;
Source: La Vérité des Travailleurs, no. 81, first fortnight of April, 1958;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2010.

President Coty having pardoned Djamila Bouhired, the French jailers and executioners in Algeria can freely set to killing her.

Georges Arnaud, author along with Jacques Vergès, Djamila’s defender, of the book “To Save Djamila Bouhired,” has just sent to a letter to every deputy in which he warns them of the dangers she is facing. If a prompt and sufficiently large-scale action doesn’t intervene to impose her transfer to a hospital in France so she can be treated for the wound that risks not only paralyzing her, but killing her, she is going to be assassinated.

Almost every day tiny notices in the press speak of the almost hopeless battle carried out by these two courageous men to save this heroic young girl. For the moment “colonialist justice” has only agreed to examine anew the question of whether or not she was tortured. It will announce a decision within the next two weeks. During this fortnight how many combatants of the Algerian revolution will be tortured? How many will be guillotined? And among those pardoned, will there not be those who “commit suicide?” Will Djamila be among them?

We will never know, for the official figures carefully hide the truth.

But despite this silence, this censorship, and these gags, people here can no longer ignore the facts. In concluding his book [La Question] Henri Alleg writes: “I had to speak about this for those Frenchmen who are willing to read me...They must know what is done here IN THEIR NAME.”

There are now tens of thousands of Frenchmen who have read this tale of atrocious tortures, this tale so damning for the executioners but exalting for the combatants for liberty who, in their hundreds and thousands, have, like Henri Alleg, like Djamila, like all the guillotined, triumphed alive or dead over their sadistic torturers.

These tens of thousands of Frenchmen who have read this book, the hundreds of thousands who are aware of it, who know that Ben M’hidi was cowardly assassinated on Lacoste’s orders, that Boumendjel was “suicided,” that Alleg and Djamila and so many others were tortured, now have a great responsibility.

The lives of Djamil, Alleg and all the others also depend on us!

In France in 1958 the workers’ parties and unions have great strength and material means. They must set this strength and these means to work to call on the workers of this country to help the victims of colonialism in Algeria.

There has not been much propaganda done in factories, building sites, and offices to spread Alleg’s indictment. And yet already tens of thousands of books were purchased, and the workers who have been overcome when reading it passed it on to others.

If the parties of the working class, the unions of the working class transmitted this appeal to the depths of the working masses and mobilized them, not only would Coty be forced to pardon those condemned to death whose names international opinion has learned, but all crimes would come to a halt, the war in Algeria would come to a halt, for not one man, not one sou would go to it, the workers of France stopping the executioner’s hand.

In order to attempt to save the Rosenbergs there was a massive demonstration in Paris. Today those who direct the executioners of Algeria are in Paris. If as happened then the place de la Nation was filled with workers demonstrating in answer to the call of their working class organizations to save Djamila and all her comrades, Djamila would be saved and with her hundreds and thousands of others, for the war in Algeria could not continue against the will of the workers of this country standing together to fight against it. And a victorious demonstration against the executioners of Algeria would be the beginnings of mass actions against the war itself.

Yet today, when it is French imperialism that is in question, there are no calls for demonstrations!

What is only being done by small groups or a handful of courageous individuals, attempting to alert working class and popular opinion against the war in Algeria and its horrors, should be demanded by the militants of the great working class political and union organizations. The war in Algeria is problem number one of French politics. Action to stop this war must be problem number one of the working class and of its organizations.

Djamila Bouhired and Henri Alleg are names that are now well-known to the workers of this country. They would rush to answer an appeal to save them. And once brought together in this action they would go further and fight against the dirty war that is the pretext for such crimes.

Djamila Defense Committees must be organized everywhere and meetings and demonstrations called for.

Djamila must be saved. The war in Algeria must be stopped.