20 June 2020
Photo: Twitter/ @astroehlein
Up to 15 million people were killed by the entrepreneurial activities of King Leopold II, the “sole owner” of the “Congo Free State.”
The Ganshoren major Pierre Kompany emphasized that Belgium should apologize for the atrocities that King Leopold II (1835-1909) allowed to happen when Congo was a colony of this European country.
“If the State apologizes, it would be a big step. But if the King does the same, we would come out of this even better,” Kompany said, as reported by VTR NWS.
These statements occurred amidst the World Refugee Day on June 20, when the Black mayor, who left the Congo as a political refugee in 1975, recalled the “embarrassing reality” that colonial violence generated in his homeland.
On June 10, King Leopold II’s statue, which was located in the Trone Square in Brussels, dawned painted with anti-racist slogans supporting the protests in memory of George Floyd.
“This man killed 15 million people,” said one of those phrases, referring to an imperial ruler who allowed bloody business exploitation of natural resources in the African country.
Belgium now third country to see removal of statues of historically prejudiced figures, due to #BlackLivesMattters protests.
150 yr old statue of Colonial King Leopold II removed by authorities in Antwerp. He oppressed/enslaved people in Congo in 19th c: pic.twitter.com/s9rwHvk377
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) June 9, 2020
Between 1885 and 1908, King Leopold II was the sovereign and “sole owner” of the Congo, a territory rich in rubber, diamonds, ivory, and other precious stones.
To extract these resources, the Belgian monarch used the native population as forced and slave labor, which was controlled through violent means such as murder, torture, and amputations of hands when people were disobedient and disrespectful.
Despite strong historical evidence of the colonial genocide, Prince Laurent downplayed the crown’s responsibility for the Congolese genocide.
“There were many people who worked for Leopold II and they really abused. But that doesn’t mean that King Leopold II had abused. He never went to Congo personally, so I don’t see how he could have made people suffer over there,” Laurent as reported by local outlet Sudpresse.