Independence of the Belgian Congo: the "deep regrets" of King Philippe of Belgium
The new flag of the Republic of Congo, July 1, 1960, the day the Congo officially received independence from Belgium. Bettmann / Getty Images
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The King of the Belgians Philippe presented for the first time in the history of the country "his deepest regrets for the wounds" inflicted during the Belgian colonial period in the Congo on Tuesday, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of independence.
In a letter to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, King Philippe - who has reigned since 2013 - writes: " I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is now rekindled by the discriminations still present in our societies ”.
" At the time of the independent state of Congo (when this African territory was the property of the ex-king Léopold II, note) acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory " , assures King Philippe, who adds that " The colonial period which followed (that of the Belgian Congo from 1908 to 1960) also caused suffering and humiliation ".
The death of the African-American George Floyd, asphyxiated at the end of May by a white police officer in Minneapolis, has revived all over the world and also in Belgium, the debate on the violence of the colonial period in the Congo and the very controversial role of the deceased King Leopold II who is accused by certain anti-colonial activists of having killed millions of Congolese. In this context, King Philippe affirms his commitment to " combat all forms of racism " . " I encourage the reflection which is initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified ", continues the Belgian sovereign in his letter.
► Also to listen : Sixty years of independence of the DR-Congo with the historian Isidore Ndaywel
A statue of Leopold II covered in red paint in Antwerp, Belgium, June 4, 2020. JONAS ROOSENS / BELGA / AFP
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