The mea culpa of Philippe, Belgian sovereign, like that of the federal government will not be enough to calm the spirits. Devastated mixed race women sue the state for “crimes against humanity”.
They are five in number to have seized the court of first instance of Brussels on June 24. Five Métis women, born to white fathers and black mothers in the 1940s in the Congo. They were forcibly taken from their mothers by the Belgian administration, to be placed in Catholic institutions from an early age.
“These are kidnappings of children which were organized by the State and implemented with the assistance of the Church. The principle was to exempt the mixed race child from any influence of the mother”, accuse the five Métis complainants aged 70 to 74 today. Some of them were born to a father declared unknown, when he was not, against a background of strict separation between whites and blacks.
The affair has caused a stir in Belgium since the press took it over. Several Belgian newspapers recount the plight of the five complainants, abducted when they were barely between two and four years old, then abandoned, at the time of the evacuation of the Belgian nuns, during the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 .
We were children of sin. The union between white and black was considered a sin. We were frowned uponat RTBF
Léa tells our RTBF colleagues how Belgian soldiers and territorial agents sent by the government went to get her to bring her to a congregation of good sisters in Katende, in the Congolese province of Kasaï. There, she recalls, the living conditions were abominable. While the nuns were evacuated from the country at the independence of the Congo, some Métis children were sent to Belgium to be adopted, but others were abandoned on the spot. This is the case of the five complainants to whom RTBF has devoted its investigation.
“Why did they drop us? When we were Belgian children. Why did the Belgian state not want us? questions Noëlle, one of the five complainants. At the time, reports RTBF, the five friends are barely ten years old and fall prey to Congolese militiamen. Some are victims “sexual abuse, rape and touching”. It was the fiesta of the militiamen, testifies Monique, marked forever by these nights of nightmare.
Every night, we had to make the film. We open our legs, we put candles between our legs. And it was like that every night. We couldn’t take it anymoreat RTBF
The five complainants now live in Belgium. They told RTBF that they felt destroyed morally and physically. For their lawyers, the “crime against humanity” is constituted, because these Métis women were victims of a system “institutionalized” via in particular “official race regulations” taken by the state.
The victims of this colonial tragedy demand compensation from the Belgian State: 50,000 euros for each of them and the appointment of an expert to assess the moral damage suffered.
There have been suicides, children who have lost their minds and who have almost gone mad because their quest for identity has haunted themJournal of the Arte channel, put online on May 1, 2017
In April 2019, Belgium, a former colonial power in the Congo, had apologized “for the injustices and suffering endured by these Métis children “. An apology that was not enough to calm the pains of the thousands of children who experienced a ordeal because their mothers were Black and their fathers were White. A sinister page in Belgian colonial history that has long been overlooked.