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The Belgian king sends “regrets” to the Congo for the atrocities of Leopold II

On the 60th anniversary of the independence of the DRC, King Philip of Belgium wrote a letter to President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo in which he admitted that “to further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to talk about the our long common history in all truth and serenity “.

Philippe is a descendant of Leopold II, who owned what was then called the Congo Free State between 1885 and 1908 and brutally ruled his people, exploiting their work and committing atrocities against them. Historians estimate that under Leopold’s rule, up to 10 million people died.

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“Our history is made up of common goals but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of the Congo, acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which continue to weigh on our collective memory,” wrote the king.

“The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation,” adds the letter, referring to the subsequent 52 years of government of the Belgian state until the independence of the Congo and the formation of the DRC. Leopold had ruled the region personally until 1908.

“I would like to express my deepest regrets for these past wounds, the pain of which is now revived by the discrimination still too present in our societies,” he added.

A reassessment of the Belgian colonial heritage took place in the wake of the global protests by Black Lives Matter. Several statues depicting the leader have been demolished in the country.

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