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Tributes paid to the last survivor of the French Resistance

Arsene Tchakarian was a communist who dedicated his life to ‘fighting fascism’

TRIBUTES were paid tpday to Arsene Tchakarian, the last survivor of a wartime French Resistance group who died at a hospital close to his home on Saturday aged 101.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "a hero of the Resistance and a tireless witness whose voice resounded with force until the end” while French newspaper Le Figaro said he had dedicated his whole life to “fighting fascism.”

Mr Tchakarian was a communist and the last survivor of the Manouchian group, named after the Armenian poet and Resistance fighter Missak Manouchian who founded the group.

They were made up of immigrants who had fled countries that had fallen to fascism, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Poland, and carried out an intense campaign of resistance against the occupation of France.

After the execution of 22 of the Resistance fighters in 1944 with the collusion of France’s Vichy government, Mr Tchakarian fled to  Bordeaux, remaining active in the movement until the end of the war.

Born in Armenia he campaigned for the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire during the first world war to be internationally recognised as a genocide. He worked as a tailor and had to wait until 1958 to gain French citizenship.

"He has worked tirelessly for the recognition of the genocide and the rights of the Armenian people. Modest and humble, yet it is a great man who leaves us today that the Communist Party is proud to have counted in its ranks,” said PCF national secretary Pierre Laurent.

Mr Tchakarian was awarded the Legion of Honour in 2012 in recognition of his role in the French Resistance.

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