King Leopold II of Belgium denies accusations of brutality in the Congo Free State
Date: 19 September, 1903
King Leopold II of Belgium denied accusations of brutality in the Congo Free State (CFS) and warned foreign powers not to interfere in the running of his private country. CFS was a “private project” undertaken by the Leopold II to mine rubber and ivory from his personal colony, exploiting his slaves. Leopold II was responsible for the death of possible millions of Africans.
The story of King Leopold II and Congo dates back to the 1800s when he sponsored an international geographical conference in Brussels, Belgium in 1876. At the conference he proposed the establishment of an international benevolent committee for the "propagation of civilisation among the people of the Congo region by means of scientific exploration, legal trade and war against the 'Arabic' slave traders."
When the Belgian Parliament annexed the CFS under the 'Colonial Charter', Leopold’s power was limited to a constitutional rather than personal role. Subsequently the colony was renamed Belgian Congo. The country gained independence on 30 June 1960 under the leadership of Patrice Lumumba.
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- South African History Online,‘Republic of Congo’, [online], Available at www.sahistory.org.za [Accessed 18 September 2013]
- Religious Tolerance, 2005. ‘The Congo Free State Genocide’, [online], Available at www.religioustolerance.org [Accessed: 18 September 2013]