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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: 19 mars 1962 ou la fin de la sale guerre

by Hassane Zerrouky

19 March 1962, the End of the Dirty War

Translated Tuesday 6 March 2012, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Extracts from the interview with Commandant Azzedine, historic chief of the Algerian Liberation movement (ALN). A fore-taste of the exceptional special issue of l’Humanité, to be accompanied by a DVD containing documents brought together by René Vautier.

Commandant Azzedine, whose real name is Rabah Zerari, was born the 8th of August, 1934, in Bougie (Kabylie), and worked at the Caterpillar plant at Annaba in Algeria. He was 23 years of age when he joined the armed battle in Algiers, in 1955. Military leader in charge of the wilaya-IV (Algiers), member of the National Council of the Algerian Revolution (CNRA), wounded and taken prisoner in November 1958, he escaped, and made it to Tunis, where he was named adjutant to Colonel Boumediene, chief of the general staff of the ALN. As member of the delegation of the FLN he met, in China, Mao Tse-Tung and Chou En-Lai, and in Vietnam, Ho Chi-Minh and General Giap. In January 1962 he secretly returned to Algeria under a false identity, in order to direct the autonomous zone of Algiers for the FLN, which was fighting the OAS [1]

Today, he continues to fight on the side of democratic and progressive forces, for liberty and democracy, having resigned from the Algerian Senate in protest against the repression of the citizens’ movement in Kabylie.

Huma: On the 19th of March, 1962, where were you?

Commandant Azzedine:
I was at the PC of the general headquarters of the wilaya-IV (Algiers) in the Lakhadaria Mountains, 80 kilometers to the south-east of Algiers. It was the first time that I slept in a shelter of solid construction. We were just opposite a French military post, 200 meters away. The French were unaware that with us were Colonel Hassan, head of the wilaya-IV, and Commandants Mohamed Boushama and Omar Ramdane.

Huma: In 1959, you were wounded, taken prisoner, and were in the headlines in the colonial press ...

Commandant Azzedine:
Yes. But later I got out and got back to Tunisia, where I was named to a post in the general headquarters of the ALN (the EMG) in Ghardimaou, on the Tunisian-Algerian border. I was adjutant to Colonel Boumediene, to Commandants Slimane (Kaid Ahmed) and Ali Mendjeli, who are no longer living today.

Huma: How did you manage to re-enter Algeria, which was then patrolled by 800,000 soldiers?

Commandant Azzedine:
To begin with, I left with the agreement of the GRPA, and of its president, Benyoucef Benkhedda. It was thanks to the network of Philippe Bernier that I traveled via Switzerland into France, to Paris, where I was taken in charge by the FLN network. From there, with false papers (I became Serano Georges, auxiliary gendarme on leave to France), I took the flight Paris-Algiers, accompanied by a young French woman, Claude, who was Bernier’s secretary, who pretended to be my fiancée, and who carried my orders for the mission signed by the president of the GPRA. The Algiers airport was crawling with soldiers. Gendarme Serano passed through like a postcard in the mail.

Huma: You decided to organize the struggle against the OAS ...

Commandant Azzedine:
The mission was not easy. There were a hundred attacks committed each day by the OAS. They organized murderous actions: the Day of Fatima, on which scores of Algerians were assassinated, the Day of Four Seasons, on which merchants with push-carts were the targets, the Day of Hospitals, on which they killed dozens of wounded, lying in their beds. Every second night there were salvos of rockets aimed at the "Moslem" residential quarters. In parallel, the OAS organized serial hold-ups in order to leave nothing for the Algerians, to destroy the factories, destroy the heating installations, burning hospitals, the Algiers Library, high schools and colleges, etc. The objective of the OAS was to destroy everything, and to push the Algerians to organize punitive expeditions against the European neighborhoods, in order to provoke a reaction by the French army, and to abort the independence mouvement.

Extracts from an interview recorded by Hassane Zerrouky

Commandant Azzedine has written two books: On nous appelait fellaghas and Alger ne brûla pas, Éditions Enag, Algiers, 1997.

Watch for the special issue of l’Humanité on the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence.

On Sunday 11 March at 11h, at the Cinema Max Linder in Paris, there will be meeting with presentation "Why and How the War in Algeria Began?", with projection of documents, and an opportunity to meet Commandant Azzedine, Henri Alleg, Nacer Boudiaf, and Pierre Pradel. The Cinema Max Linder is at 28, bd Bonne-Nouvelle. For reservations dial 01 49 22 74 17 or use email: amis.huma@humanite.fr

[1The French organisation armée secrète, secret military force in Algeria.

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