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Belgian King Expresses "Deepest Regrets" for Congo Atrocities

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tags: colonialism, Congo, Belgium, African history



Belgium’s King Philippe has reaffirmed his “deepest regrets” for his nation’s colonial-era abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but stopped short of formally apologising, again.

The king, who was in the DRC on his first official trip to the country, told its legislature on Wednesday that Belgian colonial rule was unjustifiable and racist.

“Even though many Belgians invested themselves sincerely, loving Congo and its people deeply, the colonial regime itself was based on exploitation and domination,” he told a joint session of parliament in the capital, Kinshasa.

“This regime was one of unequal relations, unjustifiable in itself, marked by paternalism, discrimination and racism,” he said.

“It led to violent acts and humiliations. On the occasion of my first trip to Congo, right here, in front of the Congolese people and those who still suffer today, I wish to reaffirm my deepest regrets for those wounds of the past.”

His speech comes two years after he made similar comments on the 60th anniversary of Congo’s independence, when he went further than any of his predecessors in condemning “acts of violence and cruelty” during Belgian colonial rule.

By some estimates, killings, famine and disease killed up to 10 million Congolese during the first 23 years of Belgium’s rule from 1885 to 1960, when King Leopold II ruled the Congo Free State as a personal fiefdom.

Villages that missed rubber collection quotas were notoriously made to provide severed hands instead.

Read entire article at Al Jazeera

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