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Belgium takes down statue, king regrets colonial violence

Belgium's city of Ghent has removed a bust of King Leopold II, who colonized Congo, as part of a year-long process by the city to begin 'decolonization.'

7/1/2020 4:59:00 AM

Belgium's city of Ghent has removed a bust of King Leopold II, who colonized Congo, as part of a year-long process by the city to begin 'decolonization.'

Belgium has confronted its colonial past and looked toward reconciliation, with the king expressing regret for the violence carried out by the country when it ruled over what is now Congo

Email this articleFILE - In this June 9, 2020 file photo, the bust of Belgium's King Leopold II is smeared with paint and graffiti on the grounds of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. With the protests sweeping the world in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, King Leopold II, who reigned from 1865 to 1909, is now increasingly seen as a stain on the nation. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

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FILE - In this June 9, 2020 file photo, the bust of Belgium's King Leopold II is smeared with paint and graffiti on the grounds of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. With the protests sweeping the world in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, King Leopold II, who reigned from 1865 to 1909, is now increasingly seen as a stain on the nation. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

The Associated PressBRUSSELS -- Belgium confronted its colonial past and looked toward reconciliation Tuesday, with the king expressing regret for the violence carried out by the country when it ruled over what is now Congo. Later in the day, the bust of a former monarch held responsible for the death of millions of Africans was taken off public display.

As Belgium marked the 60th anniversary of the end of its colonial rule in Congo, King Philippe's words had resounding significance since none of his predecessors went so far as to convey remorse.In a letter to the Congolese president, Felix Tshisekedi, Philippe stopped short of issuing a formal apology, but proclaimed his “deepest regrets” for the “acts of violence and cruelty” and the “suffering and humiliation” inflicted on Belgian Congo.

The removal of King Leopold II's statue took place only hours after Philippe's letter was published. The monarch, who ruled Belgium from 1865-1909, plundered Congo as if it were his personal fiefdom, forcing many of its people into slavery to extract resources for his own profit.

The early years after he laid claim to the African country are especially infamous for killings, forced labor and other forms of brutality that some experts estimate left as many as 10 million Congolese dead.Following a short ceremony punctuated by readings, Leopold's bust in Ghent was attached to a crane with a strap and taken away from the small park where it stood amid applause. It will be transferred to a warehouse of a Ghent city museum pending further decision from a city's commission in charge of decolonization projects.

“Removing statues does not erase history, it rectifies history and makes new history that rightly calls into question dominant narratives," said Mathieu Charles, an activist from the Belgian Network for Black Lives.Belgium has long struggled to come to terms with its colonial past, instead focusing on the so-called positive aspects of the colonization. But the international protests against racism that followed the May 25 death of George Floyd in the United States have given a new momentum to activists fighting to have monuments to Leopold removed.

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Earlier this month, about 10,000 people gathered in Brussels despite the social distancing measures implemented to fight the spread of COVID-19, with many protesters chanting anti-colonialist slogans.The Leopold statue in Ghent was vandalized several times in the past and again after Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. Several other monuments of the former king scattered across Belgium were defaced over the past few weeks and a statue of the monarch in the port of Antwerp was removed from a marketplace by local authorities.

Meanwhile, regional authorities also promised history course reforms to better explain the true character of colonialism while the federal Parliament decided that a commission would look into Belgium’s colonial past.Belgium Prime minister Sophie Wilmes has called for “an in-depth” debate conducted “without taboo.”

“In 2020, we must be able to look at this shared past with lucidity and discernment,” she said Tuesday. “Any work of truth and memory begins with the recognition of suffering. Acknowledging the suffering of the other.”After Leopold's claimed ownership of Congo ended in 1908, he handed it over to the Belgian state, which continued to rule over the colony 75 times Belgium’s size until the African nation became independent in 1960.

In his letter Philippe stressed the “common achievements” reached by Belgium and its former colony, but also the painful episodes of their unequal relationship.“At the time of the independent State of the Congo, acts of violence and cruelty were committed that still weigh on our collective memory," Philippe wrote, referring to the period when the country was privately ruled by Leopold II from 1885 to 1908.

“The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation,” Philippe acknowledged. “I want to express my most deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today revived by discrimination that is all too present in our societies,"

Read more: ABC News »

I read the book “King Leopold’s Ghost” and after what i learned it’s amazing they had a statue of him at all! Its a very dark history. 👏🙂 was necessary That guy was hitler long before hitler was fashionable to genocidal sociopath. Good. Leopold committed genocide in the Congo. He needed to go. This is not an American issue. All around the world people are done walking in the shadows of tyrants and criminals. We deserve better monuments to honor what is good, and just!

BLM is a terrorist organization!!! Men are pretty evil bastards. fuckcancer56 King Leopold II killed so many people, he deserves to have this bust removed. 👏👏 Bravo for Belgium. fuckcancer56 He kiled so many people josuemurhabazi Whites never like we black people,but they're just pretend with aplastic actions and sweet words, how can awhite man die for ablack man, only liesssssss

History is being changed Effects , It very annoying to know some adults do not know what Statutes are for. Statutes do depict history, they glorify the entity that stature represent. Get it right The damage is done Good!👏🏾 khyndee4 People really be falling in love with these racist statues I just don’t get it . To love or worship False idols is prohibited 🚫 in all religion it is actually considered a sinfful act .

Put it back!!!! Murdered more ppl than hitler.... I often wonder what the world would be like if africans had found the secrets to gunpowder and creating diseases first....... This world would be a much better place for ppl of color and some ppl might be back in caves This killer had to be removed a long time ago.

selfdeclaredref “City of Ghent Removes Statue Before Unemployed Lunatics Decide To Burn Down City Of Ghent” 世界文化大革命,中国领先50年🙄 Are they going to start usurping next ? Feel like lots of kingdoms started from “colonizing” King Leopold shouldn’t have received the honor of a monument in the first place, just like confederate statues. Monuments aren’t meant to “remember” history, but meant to glorify the figures they depict. This figure is not deserving of a statue and certainly not glorification.

kathy11LAW decolonization...no more colons? this does not help punctuating, nor biological processes. RevolisyonAyiti They need REPARATIONS Excellent. He was for the deaths of millions of Africans. Take that crap down. He’s a legend and will always be remembered. The pussies who fight for his removal him will never be

There once was a statue in Ghent That was spray painted red and got bent It sat there for years But a few leftist tears And away on a crane it just went About time - the millions of Africans who died because of him deserve better. I hope it’s replaced by a monument condemning his crimes against humanity.

Boooo If you are not building there just leave the statues a loan for Tourism King Leopold did more for the people of the Congo than anyone. The far left is just like isis This is how it should be.

Belgian king expresses deep regret for colonial past in CongoBelgium&39;s King Philippe expressed deep regret on Tuesday for the "suffering and humiliation" inflicted on the Democratic Republic of Congo during its 75 years under Belgian rule. Philippe&39;s message in a letter to Congo President Felix Tshisekedi is the first such expression of regret If this keeps up, good people will soon be spray painting and toppling statues of black people.

Belgian King Conveys 'Deepest Regrets' For Brutal Colonial Past In CongoIn a first for the Belgian monarchy, King Philippe is expressing his 'deepest regrets' for his ancestor's notoriously brutal colonization efforts in the region that's now the DRC. Millions of people lost their lives. Read King Leopold’s Ghost, excellent history. But since they were Black, it's no biggie to them. In the lands of the future DRC, Black lives really didn't matter. Will the queen of U.K. be the next one?

Belgium's King sends 'regrets' to Congo for Leopold II atrocities -- but doesn't apologizeThe King of Belgium has sent his 'deepest regrets' to the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the 'suffering and humiliation' his nation inflicted while it colonized the region -- but stopped short of apologizing for his ancestor Leopold II's atrocities. Mongol invasions, Turkish invasions, Barbary slave trade ? They better start to recognises that because, Africa has everything its take to become a supper power. I apologise for the time my ancestors took that cavewoman and made babies .. I apologise for the meteorite that took out the dinosaurs we apologise for eve eating the apple fuck I apologise my parents were born !! It’s getting pathetic are they thanking the west for the donations

Belgian king expresses regret for predecessor's brutal colonial rule in CongoFor the first time in Belgium’s history, a reigning king has expressed regret for the violence carried out by the nation during its rule in the Congo. And yet no actual apology. this is a victory for the 14 year old boy that started the movement..!! good move and victory for africans Give back any of the money? Reparations for the Congo? No? No? You just full of shit your majesty? Prob.

Belgian king expresses deep regret for colonial past in CongoBelgium's King Philippe expressed deep regret on Tuesday for the 'suffering and humiliation' inflicted on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during its 75-year period under Belgian rule. and does he think that somebody believes in that shit about regret of one‘s own imperialistic past? Saying sorry does not give the people their stolen resources back. Why are there still Kings?

Belgium’s King Sends Letter of Regret Over Colonial Past in CongoKing Philippe of Belgium expressed his “deepest regrets” for his country’s past in a letter to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The letter acknowledged Belgium’s brutal actions in central Africa, but stopped short of an outright apology. Belgium murdered 11 million Africans - about double the number of people who were killed in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany. I’m gonna need more than a letter. Words only aren't enough! Return all the LOOT you stole from the DRC then we will start from there. 😎 The king acknowledged better than the Queen of England and her counterparts who watched windrush people today crucified and clapped their hands even though she is their Queen!Queen rule but cannot speak out against injustice slavery go on