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Brussels councillor urges debate on statue of colonizer king

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:00s - Published
Brussels councillor urges debate on statue of colonizer king

Brussels councillor urges debate on statue of colonizer king

Brussels councillor Pascal Smet has urged a debate on what to do with statues of Belgian King Leopold II, the brutal colonizer of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo and a focus of local Black Lives Matter protests.

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Statues of the monarch, whose troops killed and maimed millions, have been burned and sprayed since protests over the police killing of black American George Floyd turned global.

Congo Free State was Leopold's personal fiefdom and source of wealth from 1885-1908, when he was forced to cede it to the Belgian state.

Smet, state secretary for city planning and heritage for the Brussels region, said discussions should include experts and people with African backgrounds, and finish by next year.

If the conclusion was that the statues should go, he would make this happen, although another option could be to accompany them with explanations about Belgium's colonial past.

Smet said in any case he wanted a memorial to decolonisation in Brussels, Belgium's capital and home to European Union institutions.

The city has an equestrian statue of Leopold beside the royal palace - its hands now painted blood-red and its chest reading "Pardon" (Sorry) - along with three busts and a Leopold II road tunnel.




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Leopold II of Belgium Leopold II of Belgium Second King of the Belgians and Sovereign of the Congo Free State

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