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Tribute to Belgian King Behind Congolese Genocide Sparks Outrage

teleSUR – December 16, 2015

A public commemoration of Leopold II in Brussels has sparked indignation in Belgium this week for celebrating a man responsible for the Congolese genocide that left over 10 million dead during colonial rule.

A public-funded parade and meeting at the city hall was meant to take place this Thursday to mark 150 years since the crowning of King Leopold II. Outrage over the event forced its cancellation on Tuesday, however. The commemoration is now to be held behind closed doors.

“A tribute to Leopold II in Brussels is a spit on the Congolese people and its diaspora. It is an insult to all colonized peoples,” the groups New Anti-Colonial Way (JOC) and Intal Congo stated in response to the event, according to RTBF.

“In (his) forty year presence in Congo, the bloody King eliminated more than half of the Congolese population; that is over 10 million people. The consequences of colonization are still felt today. Belgium has its hands stained with blood due to its actions in the past but also in the present. We will not silence the cries of our deaths, we will not silence history. We will not let you walk over our dignity. We believe it is our duty to mobilize for the memory, for the recognition of history and to end the hegemony of colonial thinking,” the groups added.

While the commemoration has been cancelled, protests to honor the victims have been organized at the city council on Thursday, where a statue in tribute to the man responsible for the Congolese holocaust still stands.

“(It’s) an unfortunate controversy” said Geoffroy Coomans Brachène, the organizer behind the tribute, who added it was “only to salute the exceptional mark of Leopold II on urbanism, architecture and regional planning in Brussels.”

For decades, Belgium exploited Congolese natural resources and enslaved its people through detention and forced labor camps, where the local population was subjected to bodily mutilations, torture and executions. The Congo did not achieve independence from Belgium until 1960.

Leopold II has become a symbol of western moral hypocrisy for many marginalized racial and ethnic communities. They see the absence of his crimes and colonial legacy in history books and public commemorations telling of whose lives are considered worthy, and whose lives aren’t.

“You see, when you kill ten million Africans, you aren’t called ‘Hitler’. That is, your name doesn’t come to symbolize the living incarnation of evil. Your name and your picture don’t produce fear, hatred and sorrow. Your victims aren’t talked about and your name isn’t remembered,” Liam O’Ceallaigh noted on the blog Walking Butterfly.

December 16, 2015 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Sadly, few people have even heard of King Leopold and the atrocities of the Congo. While the UK was not directly involved in either the Jewish Holocaust of WW2 or the Congolese Genocide, the inclusion of the Holocaust is a mandatory programme of study in the UK National Curriculum, whereas the Congolese Genocide is not even a suggested topic. . . even though the latter has a significant link to the topic of the British Empire and Colonialism. Even though some schools have still chosen to include the “Congo Free State”, a glance at the British Museum’s resource guide gives a clue how it is handled: ” it provides a stark and dramatic tale to illustrate the negative side of colonialism,” with the aim of an hour-long class discussion being “To decide whether Leopold mismanaged the Congo Free State or not.”

    Imagine if a study guide described the Jewish Holocaust as providing a “stark and dramatic tale to illustrate the negative side of war,” and asked the class to “To decide whether Hitler mismanaged Germany or not.” The Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission would be in an uproar.

    (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239075/SECONDARY_national_curriculum_-_History.pdf and https://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/CongoFreeState_TeachersNotes.pdf and https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-launches-holocaust-commission)

    Comment by Brenda | December 17, 2015 | Reply

    • And white people wonder why holocaustianity doesn’t resonate with blacks.

      Comment by aletho | December 17, 2015 | Reply


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