A bust of controversial Belgian King Leopold II has disappeared from a park in Ostend. An activist group drawing attention to the king’s brutal colonial practices has claimed theft. Leopold II ruled his own colony of the Congo from 1885. The black population was exploited for decades and millions of people were killed.
Members of De Stoete Oostendenoare have been demonstrating for years against the King’s memorials in the city. For example, a bust was smeared with red paint several times, the phrase “mass killer” was added to a street sign and the hand of a Congolese minor figure was deployed at an equestrian statue of the king, in reference to the punishment imposed by the Congolese. received regularly.
Stoete Oostendenoare had already announced stricter measures during the last graffiti in March. “We edited the statue last time. If it hasn’t been deleted, the next step is to delete it ourselves.” The act was lifted on Friday.
The mayor of Ostend Tommelein is angry at work. “Either you choose a program that calmly explains what happened in history, or you choose subversion. The latter has its consequences.”
If De Stoete Oostendenoare doesn’t back down, Tommelein wants discussions about how the city will deal with its colonial past in the future. He also filed a police report.
Across Belgium, portraits of the controversial king are regularly tinted or destroyed. Just a year ago, a bust of Ghent disappeared in a museum repository because the king’s reputation was considered too controversial.
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