The May 1959 opening of French government internment camps for Algerians suspected of being subversive agents of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) came towards the end of the Algerian War (11/1954-03/1962). The war, which ended with Algeria winning its independence from France, featured a wide variety of tactics, including torture by both sides. This torture led to the original conferences and protests of l’Action civique non-violente, a group dedicated to the right to resist oppression.
The May revolt started as a student protest over the closing of the University of Paris’ Nanterre campus. The campus closed after months of escalation of student protests. These protests initially stemmed from a fight for sexual liberation (or the right to have visitors of the opposite sex in dorms) that later radicalized to become a fight for more student influence in the education system, and finally for a complete change of economic and social structure.