BRUSSELS, June 30 (Xinhua) -- King Philippe of Belgium expressed "deepest regret" for the colonial wounds inflicted on the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the DRC) on Tuesday, marking its 60th anniversary of independence.
"I wish to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past whose pain is still revived by the discrimination still present in our societies," Philippe said in a letter to DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.
It's the first time a Belgian sovereign recognized facts of the colonial past in the Congo, and the letter made the front pages of Belgian daily newspapers.
Phillipe stressed that at the time of the Independent State of Congo (EIC, in its French acronym), a corporate state privately owned and controlled by King Leopold II from 1885 to 1908, "acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation."
"Our history is made of common achievements but has also known painful episodes," the king said.
The sovereign called for developing a more fruitful friendship between Belgium and the DRC, saying, "we must be able to talk about our long common history in all truth and serenity."
"This anniversary is an opportunity to renew our feelings of deep friendship and to rejoice in the intense cooperation that exists between our two countries," he said.
On the sidelines of demonstrations against racism and police violence in early June 2020 in Belgium, following the tragic death of African-American George Floyd in the United States, voices were raised in several Belgian cities to remove statues of Leopold II.
The DRC is the second-largest country in Africa after Algeria. In 1885, Leopold II gained sovereignty over the EIC. In 1908, Leopold II ceded the EIC to the Belgian government, which administered the colony under the name Belgian Congo until its independence on June 30, 1960. Enditem