The activities of Belgium in the Democratic Republic of Congo till date are nothing short of atrocities. It is well documented how the European country through colonialism exploited the country and killed its citizens. Today, through a well structured indirect rule and resource control, the footprints of neo-colonialism are visible in the Central African country.
It is on record that within the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as the Congo Free States) by the government of Belgium. At that time, the country was a colony of the Belgium government and under the personal rule of King Leopold II of Belgium.
Under the reign, King Leopold II of Belgium (who ruled the country from 1885 to 1908), the population of the Congo was reduced by half as a result of unlawful killings, hardship, slavery, and various crisis. A report released by the Hochschild foundation reveals that between 8 to 10 million citizens lost their lives during the period of terror and unimagined cruelty.
Till date, Belgium maintains resource control in DR Congo and is in charge of the major mine sites in the country. It is believed that DR Congo is suffering the most from neo-colonialism. This is because the country (which should have been one of the richest in the world due to its possession of important mineral reserves) remains one of the poorest.
Can any form of verbal apology ever erase these atrocities?
The government of Belgium yesterday apologized for kidnapping thousands of mixed-race children from the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1959 and 1962. They claim the move was made to address the legacy of its brutal 80 years of colonization.
This is the first time Belgium will openly admit to its cruelty and atrocities in Africa during the colonial era.
The country has officially acknowledged responsibility abducting thousands of mixed-race children from DR Congo in collaboration with the Catholic Church who helped train them in schools and orphanages in Belgium.
“In the name of the federal government, I present my apologies to the Metis of the Belgian colonial era and their families for the injustices and the sufferings they have endured,” Prime Minister Charles Michel told Parliament.
“I hope that this solemn moment will be an additional step towards awareness and knowledge of this part of our national history,” he said.
While many have welcomed the development, critics say more still needs to be done and that the apology is just a ploy to perpetuate more atrocities.
What are your thoughts?
Header Image Credit: Human Rights Watch