60 French students studying in Oporto addressed the French President: Force Portugal to do justice to the “Portuguese Dreyfus”

60 French students studying in Oporto addressed the French President: Force Portugal to do justice to the “Portuguese Dreyfus”

Around 60 French Jewish students studying in Oporto wrote a petition asking President Macron to demand from Portugal the return to military service of the man who became the “Portuguese Dreyfus” during his lifetime, when he was expelled from military service due to operations of circumcision of his students.

“We, French Jewish students, who study in Portugal, ask the Illustrious President of France to use his influence in the European Union to force Portugal to reinstate Captain Barros Basto, known as the 'Portuguese Dreyfus', into military service, even though posthumously" was written in a petition to the president.

Barros Basto was a captain in the Portuguese army who led the Jewish community in Porto, which was then made up entirely of Ashkenazi Jews. He became known for having tried to rescue the descendants of New Christians into official Judaism.

Born in 1887, Basto was a contemporary of French captain Alfred Dreyfus and as happened with his colleague, he was the victim of a persecution of anonymous messages from the scum of the society that falsely accused him of homosexual activity. The Portuguese militar court discovered that the messages were slanderous, but found it immoral for the captain to participate in circumcision operations and ordered his discharge from military service in 1937.

“The captain passed away in 1961. And despite all the family's efforts to correct the injustice committed against him, he was unable to clear his name and regain his military rank. The State responded to the family's repeated requests for the applicant himself to present the request, knowing clearly that Captain Basto has not been alive for a long time”, reads the students' petition to the French president.

Isabel Barros, granddaughter of the deceased officer and current vice president of the community he founded, has fought immensely for the symbolic reinstatement of her grandfather into the army as colonel. In 2012 she got parliament to declare the 1937 sentence anti-Semitic and she saw the army declare that the captain could be promoted to the rank of colonel. However, more than a decade has passed, however, and the State has not reinstated the officer as colonel to this very day.

Sensitized by the story of the Portuguese Dreyfus, the students are now demanding intervention from the French president. “France is a leading country in Europe in terms of human rights and must intervene to put an end to this attack on international law and the Jewish people,” the students wrote in the petition, “we ask the president to watch the film 'Sefarad' made in honor of Captain Barros Basto".

The Community's legal department has already prepared a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, whose entry of which is dependent on a final communication from the State which is expected at any time and which will be understood by the Community as the "final decision" for the purposes of counting the period of 4 months in which the complaint must be filed with the European court. Theoretically, a new unfavorable decision by the state could still be challenged in the administrative court, until the means of internal defense in the country where the violation occurred are exhausted.

However, the exception of the "continuous situation" (which has existed since 1937) exempts the Community and the officer's granddaughter from spending another 20 years in the Portuguese administrative courts. The game of courts, parliaments and governments will end here. It will become a question for international law to resolve.

The students signed the petition and included a link to the film available to watch online for free.