Belgian King Philippe apologises to DR Congo for colonial-era cruelty

Belgian King Philippe has expressed regret for the acts of cruelty committed during the years his ancestor, Leopold II, presided over what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as his personal property.

This was contained in a letter to DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday, in which Philippe wrote for the first time of his deep regret for these past injuries that are still all too present in our societies.

The 60-year-old monarch also apologised for the suffering and humiliation caused after the end of Leopold II’s administration of the Congo Free State (1885-1908) when the country became Belgian Congo.

DRC marks the 60th anniversary of the declaration of independence from its former colonial power on Tuesday.

Historians estimate that the population of the Congo Free State may have halved to around 10 million people during the years Leopold II presided over the territory as his private property.

The country and its people were exploited for natural resources, including rubber.

In the wake of protests that greeted the brutal killing of African-American George Floyd in police custody in the U.S., there were also protests directed against statues of Leopold II.

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