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Burning Spear News

King Leopold II, king of genocide: Make Belgium pay reparations!

Sep 9, 2020
Luwezi Kinshasa, Secretary General, African Socialist International

On June 30, 2020, the African People’s Socialist Party and Patrice Lumumba Coalition held a demonstration outside the Belgian Embassy in London on the 60 year anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) independence.

Under the slogan, “Belgium Must Pay,” we intensely mobilized to deny the Belgian ruling class the political and ideological space to define what justice should look like in response to Belgian king Leopold II’s colonial war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Congo.

The bourgeois press drummed up all over the world that King Philippe expressed sorrow or remorse but failed to apologize.

Even if he apologized, so what?

We are materialists. We are starving in Congo. Our living conditions have worsened since the Belgian and U.S. ruling class colluded to overthrow Patrice Lumumba’s government and replace it with Mobutu’s neocolonial regime.

The same Belgian and U.S. alliance collaborated with the African petty bourgeoisie in Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Angola in 1997 to remove the same Mobutu they supported for 32 years and installed a more rapacious and murderous regime.

There have been over 10 million killed since the overthrow of Mobutu’s regime. So the regret of King Philippe is irrelevant as Belgium continues to support genocidal colonialism in Congo today.

We want reparations

We are not asking for remorse, sorrow or apologies from the Belgian rulers! We are demanding reparations as part of the struggle for self-determination!

There is no basis for a genuine relationship between Belgium and Congo. Everything must start with reparations.

The colonial Belgian ruling class and society must return our wealth and pay for its colonial crimes, looting and assassinations of anti-colonial leaders in Congo.

We reject the attempt by King Philippe to set the terms on how the world must understand the monstrous colonial crimes of Leopold II in Congo.

The oppressor’s regrets are not the answer to our historical suffering and humiliation; it is not the lack of regrets that are making us suffer. Belgian colonialism was an assault on our humanity.

It was a crime against humanity, and the only thing Belgium’s king has to offer is a letter of regret! This is deeply offensive and typical of the arrogance of imperialist white power.

Our wounds are too fresh

I do not know if this Belgian king has ever read Patrice Lumumba’s independence speech, one of the best anti-colonial speech ever in response to Belgian ‘s colonial domination of Congo:

“Our wounds are too fresh and still too painful for us to banish them from our memory, for we have known the exhausting work required in exchange for wages that did not allow us to quash our hunger, or to clothe or house us decently, or to raise our children as loved ones…We have known ironies, insults, and blows which we had to undergo morning, noon and night because we were Negroes. We have seen our lands spoiled in the name of laws, which only recognized the right of the strongest. We have known laws, which differed according to whether it dealt with a black man or a white.

"We have known the atrocious sufferings of those who were imprisoned for their political opinions or religious beliefs and of those exiled in their own country. Their fate was worse than death itself. Who will forget the rifle-fire from which so many of our brothers perished, or the gaols into which were brutally thrown those who did not want to submit to a regime of justice, oppression and exploitation which were the means the colonialists employed to dominate us?”

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The Belgian colonial rule initiated by Leopold II was one of the most barbarous and greedy that humanity has ever seen.

Over 10 million Africans were killed after suffering horrific mutilations. Hands, legs, penises, and ears were routinely cut off to satisfy the demands of Belgium for rubber and ivory.

No one was spared. Babies, children, women and elderly were slaughtered.

Colonialism is colonialism, no matter the face

Belgian rulers love to separate the formal colonization of Congo by Belgium from 1908 and Leopold II personal rule over Congo between 1885-1908.

This is a way for the Belgian bourgeoisie to disassociate itself from Leopold II’s genocidal rule and the consequences of that rule.

First of all, Africa has been under colonial assault since 1415 and Leopold II’s terroristic rule is no exception to that. It is a concrete example of colonialism under white imperialist power.

The current Belgian king said, “The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today rekindled by the discrimination still too present in our societies.”

The letter of King Philippe gives a false impression that colonialism and genocide in Congo may have started at the Berlin Conference, between November 1884 and February 1885.

King Philippe is a liar, because white colonialism over African people started before the rise of Leopold II to power, even before the creation of Belgium in 1830.

Belgium itself is a creation of an agreement between Britain, France and Germany at the expense of Holland who controlled much of Belgium. It was created by the European bourgeoisie on the foundation of colonial slavery.

King Philippe owes all Africa and her dispersed people reparations. Belgium must pay all of us because  colonial slavery created Belgium just as much it created the U.S., the United Kingdom, the French revolution and virtually every advancement in what is now known as Europe since feudalism.

It is colonial slavery that funded the industrialization of Europe and North America. It is what made the imperialist Berlin conference possible where major bourgeois parasitic nations negotiated how to share Africa amongst themselves. Africa’s stolen natural wealth and labor were required to feed the newly industrialized Europe.

So colonialism was destroying the lives of African people before, during and after Leopold II’s time in order to build the lives of white colonizing nations.

Colonialism means suffering, impoverishment, looting and an undignified painful existence for the oppressed on one end, but wealth, development, progress, democracy and power for the oppressors. There is no such thing as a benign or friendly colonialism.

Belgium must pay!

Belgian’s King Leopold II emerged as the greatest beneficiary of the conference as he claimed ownership of the vast territory known as Congo today, at the expense of African people, who were then separated from each other at the stroke of a pen by white power rulers.

King Leopold II, with the vast wealth of Congo at his disposal, rapidly grew rich to become one of the richest men on the planet, and equally, Belgium was transformed beyond recognition. Antwerp, Brussels, Gant and other cities expanded with the wealth accumulated from Congo.

In the Second World War, the riches and labor of African people in Congo paid for Belgium’s military expenses. Contrary to most of the European countries, Belgium ended the war with no debts and even lent money to Britain.

Today, our people in Congo are living in extreme colonial poverty and brutality that started with European colonial slavery.

We were outside the Belgian embassy to demand that Belgium pay reparations to African people in Congo for colonial genocide, violence and theft of our resources and labor.

White people are wealthy because they have our wealth in their banks, homes, shops, factories, universities, museums, etc. Black people in Congo are poor because we are dispossessed and separated from our wealth. We want it back! Belgium must pay now!

We are opposed to any of Congo’s leaders borrowing our own money from Belgian rulers. Belgium’s reparations to Congo is the cornerstone of any relationship between colonial Belgium and what is still a neocolonial Congo.

Belgium must pay for the hands and ears of Africans cut off by Leopold II!

 

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