Belgium can officially apologize to the former colonies
Belgium can officially apologize to its former African colonies, this question is studied by a special parliamentary Commission, told RIA Novosti the Belgian academician, Director of the Royal Africa Museum Guido Grissell.
The king of the Belgians Philippe of 30 June for the first time expressed regret over the suffering caused to the people of the Congo in the period when this country was a possession of his ancestor, Leopold II, and then a Belgian colony. However, the official apologies Belgium has not yet been brought.
"I believe that the regret expressed by the king, is a very bold signal. No one was expecting, but he still did this step. Today he expresses his own regret, but it gives an opportunity for the parliamentary Commission to prepare an apology and to discuss the likelihood of compensation and reparations," said Grissell in an interview with RIA Novosti.
Answering the question about the number of Africans who are victims of colonialists in the former Belgian colonies, he noted that the exact figure is still unknown.
"About many things is not known. This concerns the number of victims. Last year this issue took a group of experts who studied the archives, numbers and came to the conclusion that the number of victims ranged from 500 thousand to 1.5 million people. But not 10 or even 20 million, reported by some sources. But there is still a lot of work on this issue. In addition, many archives have not been studied until now," - said the scientist.
He acknowledged that the question of the colonial past for a long time in silence in Belgium, has not been studied in schools. "This is a critical moment. Now about the history of colonialism in schools do not speak. But it is necessary to enter into the secondary school curriculum. It is also necessary to say about the special ties with Belgium of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi," says Grissell.
Answering the question about the fate of monuments to king Leopold II of the colonizer, which suffered during the protests against racism in Belgium, he noted that their number will undoubtedly be reduced. "In fact, there are actually a lot. I think to have so many monuments there is no need. Probably in every city, in every commune where the monuments will remain, will be their contextualisation will be added explaining what was Leopold II, and what is its role in history. Some cities and municipalities believe that it is possible to establish a number of other monuments that will contrast with the images of Leopold II. That is, monuments of Leopold will be less, but not disappear," said the Belgian scientist.
The death of the African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis was revived in Belgium in dialogue about their own colonial past and the figure of the king of the Belgians Leopold II, who ruled from 1865 to 1909. Historians believe that during the reign of Leopold II killed millions of Africans. Monuments to Leopold were attacked and desecrated during the recent protests in Belgium itself. Unknowns doused the monument with red paint, symbolizing the blood of the Congolese people. Activists started collecting signatures to remove from the streets and squares of Brussels all the monuments depicting the king of the colonizer.
On the background of these events the leaders of the major Belgian parties agreed to form a special Commission in Parliament, which would "shed light" on the colonial past of Belgium. As conceived by the initiators, the Commission also "must to reduce tensions," in Belgian society.
It is expected that the Commission will begin work in the fall, but the necessary information will be prepared by the beginning of the dialogue. To prepare the work of the Commission entrusted the Royal Belgian Museum for Central Africa, which houses not only an extensive collection of African art, but also the state archives of the colonial period.