Statues of Belgium’s former King Leopold II and other colonial monuments should be removed “as soon as possible” as the first step in a long-term plan in facing up to the country’s past, activists say.
The Belgian Network for Black Lives Matter (BNFBL), which took part in last weekend’s anti-racism demonstration in Brussels, dismissed suggestions that statues should be kept and better contextualised.
“Adding a short explanation to the monuments is not enough. The removal of statues would only be a beginning, how history is thought in Belgium needs to be reformed, decolonised,” the group said in a statement sent to Euronews on Wednesday.
An estimated 10,000 protesters joined Sunday’s demonstration in Brussels, part of the wave of outrage sparked by the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of police in the US that has since developed into a global cry for racial justice.
Some climbed the statue of Belgium’s longest-reigning monarch King Leopold II, who ruled from 1865 to 1909. They chanted “murderer” and called for “reparations” over the exploitation and brutality that occurred under his rule in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The French word “assassin” (“murderer”) was daubed on the base.