Campaign launched by teenager to remove statues of Congo coloniser Leopold II gains pace in Belgium

A petition calls for the removal of statues of Leopold II in Brussels starting with the monument in Place du Trone near the Royal Palace

A Change.org petition created by a teenager has garnered more than 60,000 signatures calling for the removal of statues of King Leopold II in Brussels amid global anti-racism protests sparked by the US Black Lives Matter movement. Leopold II, Belgiums longest reigning monarch from 1865 to 1909, is notorious for instigating a brutal colonial regime in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The campaign under the name “Lets Repair History” (Reparons lHistoire) demands that the city of Brussels remove statues of Leopold II starting with a monument in Place du Trone near the Royal Palace. “Despite all the contempt he had for the life and people of the Congo, Leopold II is still remembered throughout Belgium,” reads the petition in French and Dutch, which bears the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and specifies a deadline of 30 June, the 60th anniversary of Congolese independence. According to Belgian media, it was initiated by a 14-year-old boy of Congolese heritage known only as Noah NL to protect his identity.

Statues of Leopold II were targeted by demonstrators last weekend in several Belgian cities. A bust of the king in Ghent was covered in red paint and shrouded in fabric inscribed with the words “I cant breathe”, a reference to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on 25 May.

The bust of King Leopold II of Belgium, who orchestrated the colonial genocide of 10 million Congolese people, has been defaced by protesters in Ghent, Belgium.

The movement against racism and injustice is truly global! pic.twitter.com/MZLlX7eeFZ

— Facts About Africa (@OnlyAfricaFacts) June 3, 2020

In Ostend, police have reportedly arrested a suspect for defacing the base of an equestrian monument of Leopold II with paint. The statue became a rallying point for hundreds of anti-racism protestors on Sunday and a separate petition is circulating for its removal. However, in a Facebook post of 3 June, Ostend mayor Bart Tommelein stated that the city council “takes the fight against racism very seriously” but “replacing or removing statues will not happen”, citing the monuments protected status.

Outside the Africa Museum in Tervuren, near Brussels, a contemporary artiRead More – Source