King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, June 23, 2020 in Antwerp in Belgium. - DIRK WAEM / BELGA / AFP
A first in the history of Belgium. While the Democratic Republic of the Congo celebrates 60 years of its independence, the King of the Belgians presented "his deepest regrets for the wounds" inflicted on the country during the Belgian colonial period, in what was then called the Congo.
In a letter to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, King Philippe wrote: "I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is now rekindled by the discrimination still present in our societies ”.
"Suffering and humiliation" in the Belgian Congo
"At the time of the independent state of the Congo (when this African territory was the property of the ex King Léopold II) acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory", assured Philippe, who has reigned since 2013. "The colonial period that followed (that of the Belgian Congo from 1908 to 1960) also caused suffering and humiliation," he added. King Philippe affirmed his commitment to "combat all forms of racism". "I encourage the reflection that is initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified," he continued.
In Belgium, the death of the African-American George Floyd, asphyxiated at the end of May by a white police officer in Minneapolis, has revived the debate on the violence of the colonial period in the Congo and the very controversial role of the late King Leopold II, accused by some anti-colonial activists for killing millions of Congolese.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: The country in the midst of a political crisis after the brief arrest of the Minister of Justice
Belgium: The statue of King Leopold II, disputed figure of colonialism, removed from a square in Antwerp
- Democratic Republic of Congo