King Leopold, Belgium, Congo discussed on Democracy Now! Audio

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Democracy now. Democracy now dot org. The quarantine report I'm Amy Goodman with nermeen shape. The black lives matter uprising in the United States has catalyzed reckoning about racism and colonialism across the globe, including Belgium where growing movement is demanding Belgium address systemic racism make amends for its brutal colonial legacy protests have rocked Belgium as demonstrators demand the removal of statues of King, Leopold the second who became king and eighteen, sixty five and ruled what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo as his own personal colony until one thousand, nine, hundred eight in a reign of terror that killed up to ten million people. In the eighteen eighties leopold to seize land in Central Africa, seventy six times the size of Belgium he ran the region for his own profit, commanding private army that included Congolese. And draining the land of its resources, including rubber and ivory under his command, millions of Congolese people were enslaved and separated from their families. His troops were ordered to collect the hands of victims and to shoot those who resisted slave labor. He also imported. Congolese people for a human zoo in Belgium. Leopold to was forced to give up. Congo is private fiefdom in one, thousand, nine, hundred eight, but remained under Belgian rule until nineteen, sixty one Congo one. Minutes now sixty years later, Belgium is hardly reckoned with. It's bloody past statues of Leopold, too can be seen in cities across Belgium in Brussels last month. Activists climbed a statue of Leopold the second, and chanted murderer while waving the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo meanwhile thirties in the city of gent removed separate statue of Leopold on Congo's Independence Day June thirtieth. The move came after protesters doused with red paint to symbolize the blood of murdered Congolese a leopold statue was also removed an Antwerp this reckoning led King Philippe of Belgium to issue an unprecedented statement expressing regret for Belgium's colonial rule in a letter to DRC President Felix USA Academy. The Belgian parliament has also agreed to form a new truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the legacy of its genocidal rule and Congo the soul comes amidst growing demand for reparations for more. We're joined by a descendant of King Leopold to WHO's joining the protesters and demanding a reckoning about his brutal legacy. Princess Miranda is the great grand niece of Belgium's leopold the second. She's the aunt of the current king. Philippe of Belgium, and the daughter of the former king leopold the third. She's joining us from London and Brussels were also joined by Jia. The Congolese Belgian activists and founder of Cafe Congo in Brussels welcome you both to democracy now. Jia. We. Let's begin with you. You are Congolese living in Belgium you run the Congo cafe. Can you talk about the legacy of Leopold the second and what it means so often? In now hearing the story of the king who considered Congo his personal fiefdom, we think of the cutting off of hands. Ten million people died under his rule. Explain this history or at least describe it to us. Yes I'm not a historian, but I'm a journalist Amick, belgacom journalists, and that lied to we to study the construction of the bedroom, national narratives and now served how systematically they reasonably division they. Wizar- of the Congo's contribution in the construction of the Belgium identity, that's why coming from starting from King Leopold to who was the king of Belgium, but also a builder, also the heads of the. tweet state of Congo he had duties and responsibilities, and that continue Taylor that colonial continue to you know after we had the Belgian Congo and then. Today with the systematic discrimination and I can confirm that under foods of this. Shared history between Belgium and Congo, but it is a it's a denial. HISTORY IS A. History Eastern. That's why you know starting from my point of view from experience. I think is really important. You know to testimony an also to anchor these observations and Easter Easter facts because we have our cars, we facts. We have evidence of this crimes of couldn't crimes under King Leopold to an under Belgian Congo. It's important to frame directly link directly to the demands of the new generation today that the colonial continuum. That's why now we arrived in a moment. It starts from King. Leopold to and you know the demands do negotiations to remove. These statues of King Leopold to ask the head of the free states, but you know if you keep on the. Reflection it's it goes further and we. We would like to work now on material in memorial repuation because it has an impact to the earth on the new generation on the after this generation, it means for example the ceiling Lhasa. Feeling. Las- The discrimination, the sickening systematic nickel phobia. That's why we are really aware, and we really in that kind of momentum with the internationally. You know we've on occasions. But Princess as I want to ask you about the Belgian government's response a so far. To this history between a Belgium and colonial Belgium and Congo In recent years, the Belgian government has issued apologies for some aspects of its relationship to Congo. Including the separation of mixed race children from their Congolese mothers as well as for Belgium's role in the assassination of Congo's I post colonial Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Even, though many including the UN have called for Belgium to apologize for its brutal rule, King Philippe, and in the letter that we mentioned earlier, and he sent to the DRC president, he only expressed the deepest regret a for what Belgium had done acts of violence and cruelty as he said. Now many have said that that letter quite apart from not containing an apology is almost entirely irrelevant, because the king a does not represent the viewpoint of the Belgian government since he's not formerly a member. And and then the question of why it is that Belgium has apologized for certain aspects of its rule. But not for its overall brutality in the region to could you talk about that? And whether you think these protests might produce apology. Now. Where you're absolutely right, I mean there was there was also always some mixed message. There was some apologies for some things, but there were other people at a minister, saying no, we should not apologize. We cannot agrees history. So I think honesty dispersed the que- the king, saying that he expressed deep regrets unjustly doesn't go far out, but it's a first step. It's quite. He's still in our country. That's chief upstate. Waco Kanye's acknowledges the problem of the US on this lead. We have to go much further, and the parliament has voted for Commission of Truth and reconciliation, and I really hope that this will. will expose the past..

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