Gylberte Sportisse

Born 17 September 1917, Algiers.

 

Gylberte Sportisse was an activist in the Algerian Communist Party (PCA) which is founded in 1936.  Born Gylberte Chermouilli to a Jewish father and Christian mother, she becomes a party member in 1937 at a moment when anti-communist repression is very hard.

 

At the beginning of World War Two, in the wake of the August 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the Algerian Communist Party, like the French Communist Party, is banned because of its anti-war stance.  Arrested at the end of 1939 for anti-militarist activities, she is arrested and incarcerated for two years in the Maison-Carrée prison, in the suburbs of Algiers.    

 

Upon her release, she resumes her work in the Party and also marries a Party comrade who is, like her, Jewish.  This marriage ends in divorce but she marries another party member, Taleb Bouali,a Berber, in 1945. He is a union official who rises to the rank of general-secretary.  When the War of Liberation breaks out in November 1954, her husband takes up arms but is killed in combat a few years later.

 

She works as secretary on the Algerian daily Republican Algiers (Alger Républicain) which is strongly linked to the Algerian Communist Party.  As a result of her continuing activism she is arrested and expelled from Algeria to France in 1957.  From 1958 to 1962 she is part of the Algerian Communist Party delegation which stationed just outside of Prague.

 

She returns to Algeria in 1962 after independence and becomes an Algerian citizen, resuming work on the daily Republican Algiers.  She also marries William Sportisse, another prominent Algerian Communist Party member.

 

The PCA oppose the 1965 coup which overthrows President Ahmed Ben Bella.  This leads to Gylberte’s arrest and imprisonment in 1966.  Released in 1967, she works for the rest of her professional career as secretary administering the social security system in Algiers.

 

Threatened by Islamists, Gylberte and William go into in exile in France in 1994. 

 

They still live in France and continue to be activists in the French Communist Party.   

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