The Thiaroye Massacre

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The Thiaroye Massacre was the mutiny and later massacre of French West African troops by French forces on the night of 30 November to 1 December 1944. West African conscripts of the Tirailleurs Sénégalais units of the French army mutinied against poor conditions and revocation of pay at the Thiaroye camp, on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. The mutiny is seen as an indictment of the colonial system and constituted a watershed for the nationalist movement.

As colonial subjects, tirailleurs (infantry men) were not awarded the same pensions as their French (European) fellow soldiers during and after World War II. These soldiers additionally claimed they were owed back pay due to an order issued by the Minister of Colonies authorizing benefits for ex-prisoners of war from West Africa, which both fell short of the benefits given to French prisoners of war and was in any case not implemented.This discrimination led to a mutiny of Senegalese tirailleurs at Camp Thiaroye on 31 November 1944. The tirailleurs involved were former prisoners of war who had been repatriated to West Africa and placed in a holding camp awaiting discharge. They demonstrated in protest against the failure of the French authorities to pay salary arrears and discharge allowances. The following day French soldiers guarding the camp opened fire killing thirty-five African soldiers.

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