Belgium’s King Philippe, yesterday, expressed regret, for 75 years of his country’s exploitative rule in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The king spoke on the African country’s 60th anniversary of independence.
It was the first time a Belgian monarch has edged toward an apology for the colonial rule of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary of independence from Belgium on Tuesday.
Belgium controlled the central African country from the 19th Century until it won its independence in 1960.
Millions of Africans died during Belgium’s bloody colonial rule.
A Black Lives Matter protest that drew 10,000 people to the center of Brussels in early June has helped spark a broader accounting in Belgium over race and colonization, with the country’s Parliament resolving to appoint a truth and reconciliation commission to examine the past.
“At the time of the Congo Free State, acts of violence and cruelty were committed that still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation,” the king wrote in a letter to Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi.
He added: “I would like to express my deepest regrets for these injuries of the past, the pain of which is now given new life by the discrimination still too present in our societies.”