In a letter to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, King Philippe expresses “his deepest regrets for the injuries”.
Belgian King Philippe presented for the first time in the history of the country “his deepest regrets for the injuries” inflicted during the Belgian colonial period in Congo (present-day DRC), this June 30, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its independence. In a letter addressed to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, King Philippe returns to the colonial past of Belgium.
I would like to express my deepest regrets for these injuries of the past, the pain of which is today revived by the discrimination still present in our societiesIn a letter to the president of the DRC Félix Tshisekedi
“At the time of Eindependent state of Congo (when this African territory was the property of ex-king Léopold II, note), acts of violence and cruelty have been 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 which 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.
A statue of Léopold II, who had made the Congo (current DRC) his private property and set up a regime based on the exploitation of rubber by forced labor, was removed from a square Tuesday June 9 in Antwerp (region Flemish) to be stored in the reserves of a local museum.