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  #61  
Old 06-03-2020, 07:36 AM
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Leopold II ruled the so-called Congo Free State as a sort of personal fiefdom, during which time horrific human rights abuses took place. None of the colonial powers in Africa exactly behaved well, but what went on there was horrendous even by the standards of the time - see Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness".


The Belgian Congo was the new name given to the state when the Belgian Parliament took it over after widespread criticism from other countries of what was going on there.


I don't quite get this idea of wanting to remove statues, but I can see people's point.
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  #62  
Old 06-03-2020, 07:45 AM
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Indeed, Leopold II is responsible for the death of 10-15 million Congolese people. IMHO it is legitimate to question if such a mass murderer should be honored with bustes and statues and if avenues, streets and metro stations should bear his name.

It is not the first time his statues/ bustes have been defaced and I doubt it will be the last. In 2018 the statue in Ghent was covered with red paint three times in five weeks. The statue in Ekeren was covered in red paint only 2 weeks ago.

The equestrian statue in Oostende of Leopold II now is also an object of an online petition to have it removed. One year ago protestors had cut of the hand from the statue.
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  #63  
Old 06-05-2020, 10:15 AM
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Last night the statue of Leopold II in his beloved Tervuren has also been defaced.

The statue in Ekeren was covered with red paint last weekend but yesterday it has been put on fire as well. The damage can not be restored. The statue was planned to be removed in 2023 anyway.

https://www.gva.be/cnt/dmf20200604_0...-onherstelbaar

There is a majority in the Brussels parliament to remove the statues of Leopold II. A coalition of PS Ecolo, DéFI, Groen, Open VLD and one.brussels has asked the government of Brussels to 'decolonize public space'.
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  #64  
Old 06-05-2020, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marengo View Post
Indeed, Leopold II is responsible for the death of 10-15 million Congolese people. IMHO it is legitimate to question if such a mass murderer should be honored with bustes and statues and if avenues, streets and metro stations should bear his name.

It is not the first time his statues/ bustes have been defaced and I doubt it will be the last. In 2018 the statue in Ghent was covered with red paint three times in five weeks. The statue in Ekeren was covered in red paint only 2 weeks ago.

The equestrian statue in Oostende of Leopold II now is also an object of an online petition to have it removed. One year ago protestors had cut of the hand from the statue.



Spanish kings like Charles I or Philip II were responsible for the genocide of millions of native Americans and so were several presidents of the United States in the 19th century. British ministers and monarchs were responsible for the extermination of the Australian aborigenes, Maoris, Zulus and countless other native peoples. Should we tear down all their statues and rename all streets named after them in Madrid, London, Montreal, Sydney, Cape Town, and elsewhere (the list is endless) ?
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  #65  
Old 06-05-2020, 02:10 PM
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Spanish kings like Charles I or Philip II were responsible for the genocide of millions of native Americans and so were several presidents of the United States in the 19th century. British ministers and monarchs were responsible for the extermination of the Australian aborigenes, Maoris, Zulus and countless other native peoples. Should we tear down all their statues and rename all streets named after them in Madrid, London, Montreal, Sydney, Cape Town, and elsewhere (the list is endless) ?
Leopold's greed and conduct were seen as horrific at the time, by "respectable white people", including those in power elsewhere. It was a matter of note and concern at the time, unlike many historical genocides. His personally-instigated and supervised butchery is not some matter of revisionist political history.

Perhaps the proper amount of negative attention is finally being focused.

Other statues and streets and sovereigns are a matter for other debates, but Leopold is definitely at the head of the sordid line.

Edit: For one thing, he got away with everything while he lived and died an old man with very few consequences, all while knowing exactly what he had done. Why should he get away with it forever?
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  #66  
Old 06-08-2020, 08:45 AM
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A crowd climbed on to the statue of Belgium’s former King Leopold II and waved the flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo!

https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/08/...st-in-brussels
https://scroll.in/video/964118/watch...-colonial-king
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  #67  
Old 06-08-2020, 09:53 AM
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I recently saw a photo of a young Congolese man, taken in the late 19th century. He was crouching down and weeping over the tiny amputated foot of his 5 year old daughter.

She had been mutilated for not meeting her work quota, presumably on the orders of Leopold II's agents on the rubber plantations.

To say that Leopold was a monster on the level of Hitler and Stalin is an understatement. But I am not sure at this point that running around defacing and tearing down statues is productive.

It's imperative that everyone...not only Belgians-learn their history and use what they know to address the consequences of past evils and injustice IMHO.
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  #68  
Old 06-08-2020, 12:30 PM
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But I am not sure at this point that running around defacing and tearing down statues is productive.

It's imperative that everyone...not only Belgians-learn their history and use what they know to address the consequences of past evils and injustice IMHO.
Respectfully, I have to disagree and say that it is productive. The beautiful buildings in Brussels are something that the Belgian people have to deal with, but at least they also serve a beneficial purpose.

The statues are not there to the memory of a wise and benevolent king. Like Hitler and Stalin, there is absolutely no reason for this guy to have monuments, not when they all need something about the DRC attached. Take them down, and Belgium can stop having to believe Leopold II was worthy of this sort of commemoration. (They can put more up of his nephew, who was a genuinely good person and a hero.)
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  #69  
Old 06-08-2020, 02:11 PM
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His nephew Albert Ier?

I understand your point....but I would be sad to see the beautiful chateaux and the greenhouses of Laeken torn down.
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  #70  
Old 06-08-2020, 02:28 PM
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I have a feeling that Leopold II' s statue days are numbered.
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  #71  
Old 06-08-2020, 03:15 PM
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His nephew Albert Ier?

I understand your point....but I would be sad to see the beautiful chateaux and the greenhouses of Laeken torn down.
I don't think anybody has suggested that or that it will come to that, but statues are more straightforward. He is a hundred thousand times worse than any Confederate officer. Belgium will figure out other ways to remember the very great evil he did.

In addition to being king and a hero, Albert I is the one the current BRF probably thanks Providence every day for letting them not be directly descended from Leopold II.
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  #72  
Old 06-08-2020, 04:03 PM
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I agree! I am a great admirer of King Albert and his queen, Elisabeth.

Everyone, not only Europeans...needs to be aware of the legacy of terror and mass murder left by Leopold. Even his contemporaries seemed to find him odious..

Which is why i am surprised to know that there are so many "memorials" to him in Belgium.
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  #73  
Old 06-08-2020, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by An Ard Ri View Post
I have a feeling that Leopold II' s statue days are numbered.
What about the order of Léopold II, which has been awarded to many Belgian and foreign nationals throughout the years ? Should it be discontinued ? Or renamed?

And the Greenhouses of Laeken or the many additions made to the Royal Palace of Brussels ? Should they be torn down ?

Where does one stop once this kind of process starts ?
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  #74  
Old 06-08-2020, 07:24 PM
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What about the order of Léopold II, which has been awarded to many Belgian and foreign nationals throughout the years ? Should it be discontinued ? Or renamed?

And the Greenhouses of Laeken or the many additions made to the Royal Palace of Brussels ? Should they be torn down ?

Where does one stop once this kind of process starts ?
Rename the order, why not? It's relatively painless. Perhaps people will start refusing it. Perhaps Elisabeth, born in this century, won't want to give it out with that name.

Nothing has to happen to Laeken or Brussels. They don't have his name or image. They also provide some function and benefit. If someone truly suggests that they all need to come down, that will be quite a long argument.

I'm also not sure why you want to equate "getting rid of the unnecessary trappings of a man who's been known and proved a monster of a vast scale for more than a century" with immediate anarchy and disorder. But I'm not Belgian. Perhaps Marengo or one of the other posters can point out where one stops.
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  #75  
Old 06-09-2020, 02:58 AM
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I am not Belgian either but moved here a few months ago from The Netherlands, where a simular discussion is going on.

The labor of the people of the Congo generated wealth with which Leopold could finance his building projects in Brussels, Laeken, Tervuren and Knokke. The royal palace has big 'L''s in on the facade that was created in 1904, so by Leopold II. Tearing down these buildings would be ludicrous. Nobody is suggesting that AFAIK.

The major difference is of course that these buildings do not pay tribute to Leopold II. Statues do. Leopold is literally placed on a pedastral so passers by can look up to him. I am not surprised these statues were built but it is somewhat surprising that somewhere in the last 50 years they have not been removed. Not many statues of Hitler or Stalin survive either and for good reason.

To view history through today's prism is always a slippery slope that should IMO be avoided as much as it can. Very few - if any- people from the past will have had a mind set that suits today's values. Why not remove a statue of f.e. Godefroy de Bouillon on the Place Royale who killed many Muslims during the First Crusade. Why leave his statue there while Leopold's statue is taken away?

But this is an exceptional case. As said above, Leopold II was already considered a monster when he was alive. The scale of his crimes is immense and relatively recent. Leopold II has no great merits to his name, he didn't give the country a constitution, he didn't defend it in a war or something of the sort. He is just known for his exploitation and mass murder in the Congo and perhaps for his megalomanic building projects that ruined much of the center of Brussels. The four statues that are the focus of the debate are of no artistic value. It makes sense to have these four statues removed.

--
As some mentioned the order of Leopold II: today's Standaard newspaper has an opinion piece titled "Grand Cross of Leopold II is heavy to wear". The author wonders who on earth still wants to wear the order in this day and age and he pleas for a change in name. He suggests to call it the Elisabeth order as there are no orders named after women yet.
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  #76  
Old 06-09-2020, 03:34 AM
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Is the Order of Leopold II bestowed that much ?

Renaming it might be an option if it is or it could fall dormant like so many orders have.
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  #77  
Old 06-09-2020, 06:35 AM
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This morning the statue of Leopold II in Ekeren has been removed from its pedestral. The statue has been taken to the depot of the open air museum of Middelheim.

https://www.gva.be/cnt/dmf20200609_0...aald-in-ekeren
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  #78  
Old 06-09-2020, 06:37 AM
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Is the Order of Leopold II bestowed that much ?

Renaming it might be an option if it is or it could fall dormant like so many orders have.

Yes, the order of Léopold II is still regularly awarded, see e.g. the January 2019 royal decree below (appointments to the order of Léopold II are at the bottom following the appointments to the higher ranked orders of Léopold and of the Crown).


https://www.etaamb.be/fr/arrete-royal_n2018015608.html


In the recent Belgian state visit to Denmark, Princess Marie was awarded the Grand Cross of the order of Léopold II, which you can briefly see her wearing in the video below (the blue sash with black stripes).








BTW, the order of Léopold II was originally an order of the Congo Free State and became a Belgian order only in 1908, similarly also to the Order of the Crown, also originally established by King Léopold II in his capacity as ruler of the Congo Free State.
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  #79  
Old 06-09-2020, 07:41 AM
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The Order of Leopold Ii still exist and is out third Order
Ordre de Leopold (mauve ) (civil and military)
Ordre de la Couronne ( Red)
Ordre de Leopold II (Blue)
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  #80  
Old 06-09-2020, 07:45 AM
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Leopold II never went to Congo , but Prince Albert the future King.
People who distroyed the King Statues are Students who don't know what Brussels and Ostend got from the KIng and what the Congo Belge gave to generations of Belgians.
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