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Belgium still grappling with its colonial ghosts – POLITICO

In 2022, the report’s work failed to find consensus on the notion of an apology to be presented to the former colonies. Some said this would have led to financial reparations, even though one of the policy recommendations states that “recognition of Belgium’s role is sincere and necessary.” However, it does not imply any legal liability, and therefore cannot give rise to any financial compensation. »

Other recommendations – there are 128 in total – include the establishment of a day of remembrance, the creation of a knowledge center and the facilitation of visa procedures for academics from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

“There were also practical things that could change the way the colonial past is represented in the public sphere, the way colonial collections are managed or change the way Congolese historians struggle to obtain visas to access collections. archives in Belgium… and they simply swept away. all of that is taken off the table,” Van Beurden said.

‘Belgian-Belgian problem

This is not the first time that Belgium has created a commission responsible for dealing with its colonial past. One of the most notable was the Lumumba Commission, which concluded that Belgium was “morally responsible” for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister.

“It was a Belgian exercise. This is what the Congolese like to call the Belgian-Belgian question,” Van Beurden said. “The Belgians will discuss it among themselves and then they will make judgments on the colonial past which concern us all. From the start, there was skepticism about the process. »

Nyanchama Okemwa, president of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), who has lived in Belgium for 30 years, was also dubious about the idea from the start.

“I was sure it wasn’t going to work, even when it started. Because where do we start when we haven’t even understood yet that our laws are obsolete? And that your politics is based on outdated ways of thinking,” she said.

According to Okemwa, the colonial mentality is rooted in Belgium and it will take many years to change it.

“Belgium is very diverse today, but this diversity is not reflected in the law,” she said, adding that compared to 30 years ago, the country has changed.

“I wouldn’t do this job for 30 years if I didn’t see certain changes. I am very patient; changes are slow, but they are happening. We cannot expect a 500-year-old problem to change overnight.


Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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