Belgium’s Apology to Congo is Non-Consequential

Published on 7th July 2020

During the recent anniversary of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgian King Philippe recently wrote a letter to the president of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, acknowledging and regretting the acts of violence, brutality, discrimination, suffering and humiliation committed by King Leopold II of Belgium in the African country. He forgot to include the period from 1908 to the independence of Congo, as well as the unrest in the region to this day.

King Philippe’s apology, however well-intentioned does not hold weight. It must be accompanied by actions that show remorse. King Philippe must spell out Belgium’s master-plan to right the wrongs done against the people of Congo. The master plan must include reparations, the opening of all classified documents of Belgium’s hand in DR Congo, the re-writing of Congo’s history textbooks, and the respect for those killed, among others.  Leopold II took Congo, a country at least 10 times the size of Belgium, as his private property. He killed and maimed over 15 million Congolese. A verbal response is not enough. African lawmakers must seize this opportunity to demand accountability and recompense from Belgium.

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