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Author Topic: More and more protest in Belgium against statues Leopold II  (Read 4582 times)
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Lady Willoughby

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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2020, 03:10:56 PM »

Very nice, Laurent. That will be helpful.
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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2020, 03:32:23 PM »

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Belgium’s Prince Laurent: ‘Leopold II never went to Congo’
https://www.brusselstimes...d-ii-never-went-to-congo/

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Prince Laurent of Belgium said he did not see how King Leopold II could have harmed Congolese people because “he never went” to the Congo, which he personally owned for decades.

“He never went to Congo himself,” Laurent, the younger brother of Belgium’s King Philippe, said in an interview with Sudpresse.

Laurent’s statements come amid a surge in support for the removal of monuments honouring the colonial king, who declared himself sole owner of the Congo Free State in the late 1800s. Several statues of Leopold II have already been taken down, with many others defaced as anti-racism movements gain steam across the world, fueled by the police killing of US Black American George Floyd.

Extensive accounts and records of forced labour and systemic brutality characterised Belgian occupation of the Congo, which Leopold ran through the brutal Force Publique, tasked with enforcing rubber quotas and overseeing labour at the fields.

“I do not see how he could have made people there suffer,” he added. “You must know that there were many people that worked for Leopold II, and they were really abusive — but that does not mean that Leopold II was abusive.”

“Just look at what King Leopold II did for Belgium and you will understand,” he added, referring to Leopold’s reputation as the ‘Builder King’ of Belgium for the numerous public works he ordered, many financed through the exploitation of Congo’s people and resources.

During his reign, Leopold ordered and oversaw the construction of, among several others, Brussels’ landmark triumphal arch in Parc du Cinquantenaire, of the Hippodrome Wellington in Ostend and of the Africa Museum in Tervuren, which was filled with a large collection of colonial artefacts. Personal properties built and acquired, including the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken and numerous massive estates, were donated to the state-owned Royal Trust on the condition that they remain at the disposal of the royal family.

In the interview, Laurent also said that whenever he met a head of state from Africa he “always presented his excuses for what Europeans had done to Africans in general.”

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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2020, 04:26:37 PM »

Just wow.  Dead

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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2020, 04:39:28 PM »

Quote
Failure to meet the rubber collection quotas was punishable by death. Meanwhile, the Force Publique were required to provide the hand of their victims as proof when they had shot and killed someone, as it was believed that they would otherwise use the munitions (imported from Europe at considerable cost) for hunting. As a consequence, the rubber quotas were in part paid off in chopped-off hands. Sometimes the hands were collected by the soldiers of the Force Publique, sometimes by the villages themselves. There were even small wars where villages attacked neighbouring villages to gather hands, since their rubber quotas were too unrealistic to fill.






Quote
We were always in the forest to find the rubber vines, to go without food, and our women had to give up cultivating the fields and gardens. Then we starved ... When we failed and our rubber was short, the soldiers came to our towns and killed us. Many were shot, some had their ears cut off; others were tied up with ropes round their necks and taken away





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The baskets of severed hands, set down at the feet of the European post commanders, became the symbol of the Congo Free State. ... The collection of hands became an end in itself. Force Publique soldiers brought them to the stations in place of rubber; they even went out to harvest them instead of rubber ... They became a sort of currency. They came to be used to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas, to replace ... the people who were demanded for the forced labour gangs; and the Force Publique soldiers were paid their bonuses on the basis of how many hands they collected.




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Leopold was the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken on his own behalf.
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2020, 04:14:50 AM »

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Belgium’s Prince Laurent: ‘Leopold II never went to Congo’
https://www.brusselstimes...d-ii-never-went-to-congo/

Quote
Prince Laurent of Belgium said he did not see how King Leopold II could have harmed Congolese people because “he never went” to the Congo, which he personally owned for decades.

“He never went to Congo himself,” Laurent, the younger brother of Belgium’s King Philippe, said in an interview with Sudpresse.

Laurent’s statements come amid a surge in support for the removal of monuments honouring the colonial king, who declared himself sole owner of the Congo Free State in the late 1800s. Several statues of Leopold II have already been taken down, with many others defaced as anti-racism movements gain steam across the world, fueled by the police killing of US Black American George Floyd.

Extensive accounts and records of forced labour and systemic brutality characterised Belgian occupation of the Congo, which Leopold ran through the brutal Force Publique, tasked with enforcing rubber quotas and overseeing labour at the fields.

“I do not see how he could have made people there suffer,” he added. “You must know that there were many people that worked for Leopold II, and they were really abusive — but that does not mean that Leopold II was abusive.”

“Just look at what King Leopold II did for Belgium and you will understand,” he added, referring to Leopold’s reputation as the ‘Builder King’ of Belgium for the numerous public works he ordered, many financed through the exploitation of Congo’s people and resources.

During his reign, Leopold ordered and oversaw the construction of, among several others, Brussels’ landmark triumphal arch in Parc du Cinquantenaire, of the Hippodrome Wellington in Ostend and of the Africa Museum in Tervuren, which was filled with a large collection of colonial artefacts. Personal properties built and acquired, including the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken and numerous massive estates, were donated to the state-owned Royal Trust on the condition that they remain at the disposal of the royal family.

In the interview, Laurent also said that whenever he met a head of state from Africa he “always presented his excuses for what Europeans had done to Africans in general.”

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Ah Laurent never fails to disappoint us
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« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2020, 09:50:51 AM »

According to a Dutch news site (NOS), Philippe wrote an letter to the president of Congo (about the past a.o.)

https://nos.nl/artikel/23...gruweldaden-in-congo.html

Roughly translated as:

Belgian king Filip: 'Deepest regret for atrocities in Congo'

The Belgian king Filip has expressed his "deepest regret" for the Belgian performance in Congo. In a letter to Congolese President Tshisekedi, Filip writes about "wounds from the past", referring to the reign of King Leopold II, among others.

Today it has been 60 years since the African country gained independence from Belgium. "This anniversary is an excellent opportunity to reconfirm our friendly ties," writes the Belgian king. According to him it is necessary to talk about the common history "in all openness and serenity".

"This history consists of common achievements, but also of painful episodes. Violence and atrocities were committed during the Congo Free State that continue to weigh on our collective memory." This period ran from 1885 to 1908, when Congo was under the personal rule of King Leopold II.

Reign of terror
Millions of people died during that reign, according to estimates. As a result of the anti-racism demonstrations after the death of the black American George Floyd, much discussion has arisen in Belgium about how the country should deal with the Congo past. Several Leopold II statues have recently been defaced and removed.

In his letter, King Filip also discusses the period after 1908, when Congo came under Belgian rule. "During the subsequent colonial period, suffering was also inflicted and his humiliations inflicted. I continue to express my deepest regrets for those wounds from the past."

No official apologies
He also makes the link between contemporary racism and the Belgian misdeeds in Congo. "Wounds that are now painfully felt again by acts of discrimination, are still too strong in our society. I will continue to fight against all forms of racism," said Filip.

According to Belgian media, the letter comes somewhat unexpectedly. The Belgian press also emphasizes that the king does not offer official apologies, but speaks of "deep regret". As a result, his words have less legal weight.

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« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2020, 03:35:18 PM »

This has made me wonder about the continued use of the Nine Provinces Tiara. I know all royal families probably have plenty of ill-gotten jewels, but this one really stands out to me since the diamonds are from the Congo and one them represents the Congo as a colony. Does anyone else think there would be controversy in seeing it worn again (I know they don't have many jewels in that family) or am I overthinking it?
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« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2020, 03:39:12 PM »

They could hand them back.
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« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2020, 04:57:42 PM »

They could hand them back.

And a new, energy efficient and co2 neutral method of air travel called pig power will be implemented.
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« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2020, 11:20:27 AM »

Princess Marie-Esméralda talking a lot of sense on BBC's Newsnight:

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Statues are not neutral, they represent something, they hurt people and I can fully understand for many communities that it's really painful to see a coloniser, or slave owners... But obviously we cannot stop at statues because that will not solve the problem. What we have to do is talk about it the past. We have to teach it in our schools, because in Belgium, I can tell you, no one was learning about the colonial past. There were a lot of lies, a lot of myths, and that has to change

...

Colonialism has to be acknowledged... we have to face the past, especially when we see that racism is really structural in our societies and that comes directly from slavery and colonialism”

https://twitter.com/BBCNe...tatus/1278456811834814466
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« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2020, 11:54:43 AM »

Princess Marie-Esméralda talking a lot of sense on BBC's Newsnight:

Quote
Statues are not neutral, they represent something, they hurt people and I can fully understand for many communities that it's really painful to see a coloniser, or slave owners... But obviously we cannot stop at statues because that will not solve the problem. What we have to do is talk about it the past. We have to teach it in our schools, because in Belgium, I can tell you, no one was learning about the colonial past. There were a lot of lies, a lot of myths, and that has to change

...

Colonialism has to be acknowledged... we have to face the past, especially when we see that racism is really structural in our societies and that comes directly from slavery and colonialism”

https://twitter.com/BBCNe...tatus/1278456811834814466

BTW, Marie-Esméralda is VERY in favour of taking the Leopold statues down but also wants Belgium to go further in terms of opening discussing its colonial past
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« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2020, 12:09:15 PM »

I think without discussing all of it and learning from the past, and what horrific things were done, removing the statues is simply a hollow gesture. You have to learn about it and FROM it - it's the same here in the US. I see people defacing statues and memorials to amazing people like the first Civil War battalion of freed slaves, or about the Emancipation Proclamation; they don't care about it - they just want to ruin things. Education is key.

Due to my interest in royals I always found myself so appalled there would be statues of that inhuman piece of sh*t - and nobody I know has ever been aware of the atrocities committed by the Belgians in the Congo. Leopold himself was a cruel, evil, evil man, with or without the Congo. A sadist.
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« Reply #27 on: July 02, 2020, 01:20:31 PM »

There's a reason why Arbeit Macht Frei is kept.  To remind us all of the inhumanity of the past.

Some statues need to come down because they aren't there as a reminder of inhumanity, but as a glorification of values that countries no longer hold (in their majority).  And as a society, we ought not to glorify misdeeds. 

Having said that, some of these protesters are extraordinarily ignorant of history.  In Wisconsin, they pulled down and decapitated the statue of Hans Christian Weg, a Norwegian who fought for the union army here in the US to end slavery. He hated slavery.  He hated segregation. He gave his life when he was 33 to end it.  They destroyed it because.... white man... statue bad... must come down. 

Some idiot even painted 'black is beautiful' on the statue.  Yeah, idiot, Hans knew that.  That's why he gave his life for African-Americans to be free.
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« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2020, 01:27:18 PM »

They could hand them back.

And a new, energy efficient and co2 neutral method of air travel called pig power will be implemented.

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« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2020, 01:33:23 PM »

If we are all part of the human race and no artificial grouping confers superiority to anyone, then we are all equally capable of deeds that represent the best and worst of humanity. Will removing statues change that history or human propensity? Will removing statues remove reminders of our painful past for victim, oppressor, the bystanders and their descendants?

What it will certainly do is cease to remind us of what we are ALL capable of. Instead of removing the statues, we should post epitaphs of the legacy left by that person: the good, bad and very ugly. Not everyone will seek truth. Many will accept the information given to them as truisms. If we consign the Leopold IIs of this world to the bin of history or the back of a museum, they have very little to teach people except the people who seek it. Their voices will be drowned out.

We will forget. In so doing, we will repeat what came before. Statues are beacons and milestones: points of reflection. History is not bunk. It is out tale.





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