This sentiment against Belgium is led by mixed-race women from mixed unions in the Congo, who were taken from their families and placed in institutes. These women are asking for financial compensation for the psychological and psychological suffering they endured in their childhood.
as reported from Brussels, Pierre Benazet
There are five complainants, all born in the 1940s in the then Belgian Congo. They were born to a Belgian father and a Congolese mother and were torn from their African families and placed in Catholic missions. Institutions run by the Church but which were in fact the result of a policy desired by the colonial administration. Between 12,000 and 20,000 metier were thus placed in the Belgian Congo but also in the Belgian colonial mandates in Rwanda and Burundi.
They were called at the time of the mulattoes and the official explanation was that these children had to receive a European education to create a caste of Congolese who were favorable to the colonial regime. But the reality was completely different, because in these institutes with basic living conditions, the half-breeds that were torn from their families did not actually receive special attention. It was a placement under guardianship that put these children on the margins of both African society and colonial society.
“They are living proof of an unknown state crime” For the five women’s lawyers, the fact that they have taken these children from their families is a crime against humanity and they are demanding financial compensation for each of them. 50,000 euros. “They have been kidnapped, beaten, ignored, expelled from the world. They are living proof of an unknown state crime, the lawyers say.
According to them, all the cogs in the state and the Belgian colonial administration were involved in this policy, which consisted of removing mixed-race children of an early age from their African families in order to place them on religious missions. “It is true,” lawyers in the Belgian state appeal, “but it was an accepted practice then to protect children.” And on the other hand, “these facts dating back to the 1940s and 1950s have long been prescribed.” The judge will announce his verdict within four to six weeks.
The excuses two and a half years ago by the Belgian Prime Minister to all half-breeds in Congo are insufficient for the five plaintiffs. They themselves have only recently begun to talk about their past suffering for their own children. In addition to this trial, which began on Thursday, they also hope that the Belgian Parliament will one day adopt a law on compensation in favor of thousands of other Congolese half-breeds with similar experiences.
► To read about: Belgium: the fight against the Congolese colonization of mixed races in the face of justice