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! .