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A List of Atrocities Committed by King Leopold II of Belgium in the Belgian Congo: 1885-1908

A list of some of the atrocities committed in the name of King Leopold II of Belgium in the Belgian Congo or the Congo Free State as it was then known, between 1885 and 1908.

The Kingdom of Belgium only came into being in 1831, but soon joined in the race to forge an Empire. The nation’s second king, King Leopold II, an ambitious and ruthless man, focused his attention on “Darkest Africa” and the result was the creation of the Congo Free State in 1885  under his own personal sovereignty. The atrocities committed in the Belgian Congo by King Leopold II, and in effect the Belgian people (as he was their sovereign and they his people!), were appalling and have to rank as one of the worst human rights atrocities of all time. The atrocities include:

  • The use of Tippu Tip, a slave trader from Zanzibar, and his slaves (which constituted the Force Publique) , to enslave the rest of the Congo populace.
  • The severing of the hand of any person, be they man, woman or child, who did not fulfil the task required of them.
  • The forced separation of children from their parents, after which they were organised into three children’s colonies where they were indoctrinated, being taught Christianity and trained as soldiers.
  • The stipulation by the Belgian missionaries that only orphans were to be appropriated, so the  parents were summarily executed.
  • The kidnapping of black women so as to force their husbands to work on the Belgian rubber plantations in the Congo.
  • These women were kept as hostages until their men had provided the required quota of rubber.
  • The wife of any man refusing to collect rubber would then be killed, and his children would in all likelihood also be killed. .
  • These atrocities were not just the transgressions of an isolated bunch of rebellious soldiers, as the official manuals handed out by the Belgian authorities actually recommended and endorsed these methods. 
  • Hundreds of thousands of men were conscripted in this manner to work on the Belgian rubber plantations, and had to carry their heavy load of rubber for many a mile, many dying along the way. 
  • Villages that did not meet the quota of rubber stipulated were then required to pay the outstanding amount in the form of a severed hand, each hand representing a “kill”.
  • This often resulted in wars between the different tribes and many deaths, as the quotas were not at all realistic, and the only recourse was to then “harvest” the necessary hands in order to avoid any punitive measures on the part of the Belgian authorities.
  • Whenever a village resisted in anyway, the Force Publique  would then be ordered to terrorise them.
  • Their methods included tying up ten hostages in a tent with large stones attached, and then pushing the poor victims into a river.
  • Another method of oppression was to rape the women
  • Or they just simply shot as many people as it would take to intimidate the rest.
  • However, for every bullet expended, the soldiers would have to return one right hand.
  • The Belgians also resorted to beheading any recalcitrant tribes people.
  • In addition, the soldiers were told that the more severed hands they could collect the less time they would have to serve in the Force Publique, and thus this incentive also served to further fuel the “orgy” of  killing and bloodletting.
  • Entire villages and towns were destroyed, and it is surmised that as many as 10 million native Congolese died as a result of King Leopold’s Tyranny! .
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User Comments
  1. Tom Jones

    On May 21, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Do we still act this way today? No.
    does Islam continue to act in a barbaric fashion as it has for
    over 1300 years? Yes.
    Why were we able to change, and why is Islam unable to change?

  2. KZnextzone

    On May 21, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I agree. Time to turn the page. If we can’t move on, we’re not moving forward.

  3. Henry Pawlaczyk

    On June 18, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Yes We still act that way,King Leopold has metamorphisized into a Global Corporation.The new terror tactics are economic, and child labour is manifest.Global Corporations only care for shareholder profits ahead of social justices.The new slave trade is poverty,and the right hand removal is exhorborant interest rate charges.

  4. Magnus

    On May 1, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Only whites say…

    It is time to move on

    …when it is something bad they did to someone. But they still celebrate the days their kind broke free of their oppressors or did other good things, in their countries that happened hundreds of years ago. Walking hypocrites…

  5. Magnus

    On May 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Only whites say “It’s time to move on” when it’s something they did to someone. But they still celebrate the days their kind broke free of their oppressors, in their countries. Walking hypocrites…

  6. Kingsley ANYANYA

    On November 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    we have just seen change in attitude and what we africans need is consolidation and to enrich our generation with the lesson learnt. Then africa will great.

  7. sarah

    On January 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    i agree with you magnus!

  8. Volunteer28

    On June 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Did Whites actually commit these atrocities or were they devised and carried out by the Blacks they had put in charge like Tippu Tip?

  9. Mpangi

    On February 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Do your research. Men from Zanzibar willingly joined the Force Publique and partook in these hideous crimes. Those are black Arabics, by the way. Not white. And instead of rising up in unity against the Belgians, they laid low in submission for 23 years, accepting whatever heinous injustice was put upon them. Instead of working harder to rebel, they cut off their own people’s hands to keep from angering the whites. I am currently writing a book on these atrocities, and have put in about 600+ hours of research on the topic. And though I still don’t know EVERYTHING, I can honestly tell you that it is just as much the responsibility of the oppressed to rise against as it is the responsibility of the oppressor to repent. And the Congolese miserably failed in this area. It took them until the 60s to finally take a proper stand and declare their independence, and even then, they merely traded one tyranny for another. To this day, they take the garbage of the M23 up the ass and roll over for them. The Congolese are a strong people, but they wait until more than half of their population is wiped out before rising up.

    You say whites were the problem. They’re only half of it. The submissiveness of the Congo is the rest.

  10. ZeeDar

    On March 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    @Mpangi – it is interesting how you portray the VICTIMS(i.e. Congolese) as the problem, instead of laying the blame where it logically belongs.
    What you’re saying is basically “The rapist is only HALF of the problem, the girl he raped should have FOUGHT BACK HARDER, so she must also share the blame for the act of rape…” !!!
    Now, does that make ANY sense to you (or ANYONE else reading this)?
    I think not.

    Your reasoning is deeply flawed and quite disturbing.

    The fact is, the Europeans/Belgians are CLEARLY the aggressors and transgressors in these barbaric atrocities and savagery. The Congolese are the VICTIMS who got attacked, humiliated, mutilated, murdered, raped, savaged, destroyed, etc. etc.
    It’s. Just. That. Simple.

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