Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press. Leopold II’s track record of atrocities and human rights abuses meant many people of Belgium treat him as a blemish on their collective history. You may opt-out by, EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Michigan Economic Development Corporation BrandVoice, Here’s How Statues Across The World Look After A Week Of Reckoning. The Leopold II bust from Ghent has been sent to the warehouse of a museum in Ghent while a city commission for decolonization projects determines the fate of the statue, according to the Associated Press. Philippe also congratulated Tshisekedi on the anniversary of Congo’s independence, ruing that he was not able to attend the celebrations to which he had been invited due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the international protests against racism that followed the May 25 death of George Floyd in the United States have given a new momentum to activists fighting to have monuments to Leopold removed. Left: A vandalized statue of King Leopold II of Belgium is removed as the country is about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Congolese Independence, in Ghent on June 30, 2020. After removing the statue, the activists rolled it into a nearby river. Several other monuments of the former king scattered across Belgium were defaced over the past few weeks and a statue of the monarch in the port of Antwerp was removed from a marketplace by local authorities. “Leopold II was a true visionary for his time, a hero,” Louis Michel said in an interview in 2010. In Antwerp, a statue of Leopold has been taken down after it was repeatedly vandalized during Black Lives Matters protests, which have taken place across Europe in the aftermath of the death of black American George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer in … The early years after he laid claim to the African country are especially infamous for killings, forced labor and other forms of brutality that some experts estimate left as many as 10 million Congolese dead. BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium confronted its colonial past and looked toward reconciliation Tuesday, with the king expressing regret for the violence carried out by the country when it ruled over what is now Congo. The weekend saw further attacks on statues in London during BLM protests in solidarity with protesters in the United States in the wake of the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images. Read The statue was of King Leopold II, who was King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909. Analyzing Biden’s possible pick for secretary of defense. Justice Department appeals judge’s decision in Trump defamation case, Read All Rights Reserved. Update, June 10, 2020: A 50-year-old statue of King Leopold II was removed from a public square in Antwerp. Acknowledging the suffering of the other.”. In his letter Philippe stressed the “common achievements” reached by Belgium and its former colony, but also the painful episodes of their unequal relationship. “At the time of the independent State of the Congo, acts of violence and cruelty were committed that still weigh on our collective memory,” Philippe wrote, referring to the period when the country was privately ruled by Leopold II from 1885 to 1908. The Leopold statue in Ghent was vandalized several times in the past and again after Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. The monarch, who ruled Belgium from 1865-1909, plundered Congo as if it were his personal fiefdom, forcing many of its people into slavery to extract resources for his own profit. A statue of Belgium’s former King Leopold II, known for overseeing atrocities in central Africa in the 19th century, has been taken down in the city of Antwerp after sustaining damage during anti-racism protests. Nov 25 “The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation,” Philippe acknowledged. Subscribe to ‘Here's the Deal,’ our politics newsletter. “Removing statues does not erase history, it rectifies history and makes new history that rightly calls into question dominant narratives,” said Mathieu Charles, an activist from the Belgian Network for Black Lives. King Leopold II has been a controversial figure in Belgian history. The removal of the statue of the Belgian former monarch comes just days after leftists and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists toppled a statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol slave trader and local philanthropist. Learn more about Friends of the NewsHour. The bust was removed just hours after King Phillipe expressed regret for his ancestor’s actions Tuesday in a letter to Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi, though he notably stopped short of issuing a full apology, a move that could make Belgium vulnerable to claims of reparations that the United Nations recommended in 2019. - The statue was vandalized during a protest action amid discussions to remove all Leopold 2 statues due to the misdeeds in his personal property Congo. While he profited personally from the Congo Free State, Leopold II was also known in Belgium as the “Builder King” with money acquired from Africa put toward building projects across the country. When anti-racism protesters in England pulled down the statue of a 17th Century slave trader and promptly dumped it in the deep waters of a harbour, the message was clear. It will be transferred to a warehouse of a Ghent city museum pending further decision from a city’s commission in charge of decolonization projects. Another statue of King Leopold II, a 19th-century Belgian colonizer king, has been taken down in Ghent as his descendant, the current King Philippe of … An employee helps to remove the vandalized statue of King Leopold II of Belgium on Tuesday. European countries are facing a reckoning of their colonialist histories in the wake of worldwide anti-racism protests after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last month. Left: The statue was removed by the city on Tuesday after it has been covered in paint and set on fire several days prior, with a spokesman for Antwerp’s mayor Bart de Wever saying that the statue would be taken away to a museum where it would be repaired and refurbished. Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press The removal of King Leopold II’s statue took place only hours after Philippe’s letter was published. Following a short ceremony punctuated by readings, Leopold’s bust in Ghent was attached to a crane with a strap and taken away from the small park where it stood amid applause. After Leopold’s claimed ownership of Congo ended in 1908, he handed it over to the Belgian state, which continued to rule over the colony 75 times Belgium’s size until the African nation became independent in 1960. Previously, I was an editorial assistant at the Forbes London bureau. A vandalized statue of King Leopold II of Belgium is removed as the country is about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Congolese Independence, in Ghent on June 30, 2020. The orderly removal of Leopold also comes after a crowd of protesters in the British city of Bristol tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into the harbour. Churchill Statue Vandalised on D-Day Anniversary as #BlackLivesMatter Crowd Into Parliament Square in London https://t.co/RVYq511CXn, — Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 6, 2020. Two weeks ago, Oriel College, part of the University of Oxford, voted in favor of taking down a statue of Cecil Rhodes. Will there be a monument to the COVID-19 pandemic. He ruled over what was the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1905 and personally controlled the entire area, and personally profited from lucrative rubber exports.

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