tds_animation_stack India Belgium's King Philippe sends 'regrets' to Congo for Leopold II atrocities

Belgium’s King Philippe sends ‘regrets’ to Congo for Leopold II atrocities

On the 60th anniversary of the DRC’s independence, King Philippe of Belgium wrote a letter to President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo during which he admitted that “to further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to talk about our long common history in all truth and serenity.”

The acknowledgment is a watershed second in Belgium’s post-colonial historical past, and a uncommon admission of imperialist sins from the royal household — even when Philippe didn’t go so far as formally apologizing.

It additionally marks a big victory for the anti-racism protesters who’ve been demanding Belgium handle its colonial previous and take away public monuments to Leopold II.

One unlikely chief of the demonstrations is a 14-year-old called Noah, whose petition to take down Brussels’ monuments has been signed tens of hundreds of occasions.

“Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. During the period of the Congo Free State, acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory,” the King wrote.

Philippe is a distant nephew of Leopold II, who owned what was then known as Congo Free State between 1885 and 1908 and dominated its folks brutally, exploiting their labor and committing atrocities towards them. Historians estimate that underneath Leopold’s misrule, as many as 10 million folks died.

“The colonial period which followed also caused suffering and humiliation,” the letter provides, referring to the next 52 years of rule by the Belgian state till Congo’s independence and the formation of the DRC.

“I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is now revived by the discrimination still too present in our societies,” he added.

‘Process of reflection’

A reassessment of Belgium’s colonial legacy has taken place within the wake of the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, with a number of statues depicting the previous chief have been taken down within the nation. Earlier this month, Belgium’s parliament authorised an inquiry into its colonial historical past.

“I welcome the process of reflection that our parliament has started, so that we may finally make peace with our memories,” the King wrote. But he didn’t take the chance to apologize to the DRC for the acts dedicated by Leopold II or by Belgian governments till 1960.

Britain's imperialist monuments face a bitter reckoning amid Black Lives Matter protests

The Democratic Republic of Congo was lastly established on June 30 1960, a date marked by a historic speech from independence chief Patrice Lumumba during which he described eight many years of subjugation that had been “filled with tears, fire and blood.”

With no speedy provide of visas, only a few Congolese folks got here to Belgium till lately — so whereas the nation turned house to folks from plenty of European nations, colonial sentiments in direction of African cultures have by no means been absolutely shaken off within the nation.

That prevailing angle has led to plenty of high-profile incidents of blackface in the country, including by leading politicians, and a basic lack of schooling round Belgium’s imperialist previous. Last 12 months, a bunch of UN human rights specialists visited a number of cities in Belgium and located “clear evidence that racial discrimination is endemic in institutions in Belgium.”

A Leopold II statue in Antwerp was eliminated after Black Lives Matter protests swept across the globe earlier this month, whereas one other reverse Brussels’ Royal Palace has been repeatedly coated in anti-racist graffiti.

Els Van Hoof, a Belgian MP who leads the chamber of consultant’s international affairs committee, says the parliamentary inquiry could deal with the query of what to do with statues of Leopold II, although the precise scope of labor has but to be decided.

CNN’s Stephanie Halasz, Scott McLean and Sebastian Shukla contributed to this report.

Source link

Most Popular

Free Slots Online to play nowadays

A quick search for an online casino will reveal hundreds of results. However, these casinos are not created equally. Some are better than others...

Free Slots No Deposit Explained

A quick search for an online casino will reveal hundreds of results. However, these casinos are not created equally. Some are better than others...

What Makes a Good Online Casino?

The gaming industry has been quite widespread since its inception. With the advent of globalisation and technology, this industry is reaching new heights. Kids...

Free Slots No Deposit Explained

What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at...