tv France 24 AM News LINKTV June 10, 2022 5:30am-6:01am PDT
♪ >> you're watching al jazeera, these other top stories now. the summit of the americas is getting underway in los angeles but without key regional leaders. the u.s. refused to invite cuba, venezuela and nicaragua citing their human rights record. the timing of the summit coincides with the movement of a migrant caravan that's heading north towards the u.s. border. the migration crisis at the united states will be higher on the agenda.
the u.s. house committee as her to harrowing testimony from an 11-year-old survivor of last month's school shooting in texas. 19 children and two teachers were killed during the massacre in uvalde. >> he shot my friend elizabeth, and i thought he was going to come back to the room, so i grabbed the blood and i put it all over me and -- >> what did you do then when you put the blood on yourself? >> just stayed quiet. >> what is till 911? >> i told her that we needed help and to send the police to the classroom. >> and the hours after the testimony, the house representatives voting in favor of giving automatic reference to
people 21 years and over and they want to ban automatic magazines. there won't ever -- they won't overcome opposition in the senate. the eastern ukrainian city is under control of russian forces after weeks of fierce fighting. the ukrainian forces are still holding on to the industrial zone. satellite imagery shows significant damage. ukraine says russia is demanding unreasonable conditions to allow grain exports. turkey has hosted them for talks on resuming shipments of grain trapped at ukrainian ports. ukraine is one of the world's biggest exporters. many countries depend on it for their food supplies. russia is happy to sell freely as soon as ukraine due minds the black sea. those are the headlines, the news continues on al jazeera after inside story. do stay with us.
♪ >> the king and queen of belgium are the. it's a chance for reconciliation, given the scale of atrocities committed under belgium colonial rule, how much progress can be made? this is inside story. ♪ >> hello, welcome to the program. a legacy of belgium colonialism in central africa in the course of two centuries, millions of people are believed to have been killed or mutilated in what's
now one-day democratic public of congo. the arrival of belgium's royal couple on the first visit to the country is being billed as a way to move forward, but with a long list of grievances, any congolese is skeptical any real action or accountability can be achieved. >> you know, let's -- >> i wish the president took care of what's important to the congolese incentive inviting this royal couple. we have important things to settle like free education, teachers are not well paid, but the president prefers to invite the belgian king, to do what, loot us again? >> yes, i am happy with the arrival of the belgian king because he is going to come and see where they have left us. the congo has evolved or gone backwards. it is like a mother who abandoned her children for years and she comes back to check how the children are living. so let him come, but we don't know what he is going to bring us. if it is to destroy us even
more, we don't know. >> belgium is well aware of its history and what was in the belgian congo. in 2002, brussels formally apologized for its role in the assassination of the priest. the congolese leader served as the first prime minister after independence and was an important politician until his assassination in 1961. belgium is expected to return his tooth to his family, stolen by belgian police officers who confessed while participating in the assassination. the atrocities, concluded forced labor, torture, amputations and rape, began in 1880 five under king leopold the second. about 10 million congolese died. the king's brutal role was deemed so cruel that 20 years later he was forced to relinquish control to parliaments -- belgium's parliament. they were unable to vote or travel freely. the democratic republic of congo had become africa's richest and
sing about 70% of the industrial governments. most of the prophets went to belgium. brussels acknowledged the abuses carried out during its 75 year rule. many argue the public apologies have fallen short. ♪ >> let's bring in our gas, and london, jonathan, publisher of africa briefing, a pan-african newsmagazine in brussels. a researcher at the world museum for central africa -- for central africa and author of the book. professor of international politics at the university of london -- university of london. a very warm welcome, thank you for joining us on inside story. i would like to begin with you. returning the tooth of the first congolese prime minister. the whole thing just speaks to the brutality of belgian rule, i guess, colonialism at that time.
what does this return mean, what does it signify? >> i think the return of the truth really is a reminder of just how much belgian -- belgium, particularly the belgium monarchy and the belgium leadership stole from congo, including the physical remains of someone as politically important. it's a reminder that this wasn't just about the massive theft of physical goods, the looting of congo's wealth, it was also the theft of human lives. and of course, this is also a reminder of the importance of him and congolese history, a sense of what was lost. this great mist opportunity and congolese politics. this revelers -- revolutionary leader who was assassinated by the belgium receipt -- belgium regime.
the returning of his tooth is something that is relevant. >> i would like to pass over to jonathan, what your take on the significance of this, and talk to me a little bit more about why he was seen as such a threat by the west? >> to me, the return of the tooth is really symbolic. without it it would be forever. i would say it's a good initial move that they could try to repair the egregious atrocities put out during king lawyer pulled the second who used congo . and, look, the immediate
postcolonial time in africa, we are the other radical leaders, in whom the west saw as a threat. and don't forget the cold war was also running between their west and the soviet union. so each side was tossing for influence. and when it comes to congo, it was known in those days, it had massive resources, as we know today. , so the momo was a radical, he was somebody who wanted to assert congo's independence, but assert its economic independence and in fear, maybe he was shipped to the ease. so what they had to do was -- and it was at a loss not just to
congo, but to the whole of africa. >> there have been various statements and apologies to some extent by the belgians over the years. have any of them taken in the full extent of the atrocities that were committed. have any of them taken for responsibility? can that be done? >> is a big difference between french and english about the word that you used, and that's the big debate today, is king philip going to express once again, his regrets, or will he express an apology? because if he expresses an apology, that could result in belgian -- belgium having to make financial restitution to congo. that's something that we don't
know what's going to happen. but the king's visit is certainly not unanimously welcomed either in congo or in belgium. in the right wing party in belgium as opposed to the king's visit to congo and there are certainly calls to making any apologies because that could have a financial implication for the belgian taxpayer. we have to realize that this visit is taking place in a very, very important context of belgian politics and then congolese politics at the same time. there's a diplomatic convergence. it's a major accomplishment for the president, and as a reminder to your audience, he was not exactly elected president, he became president through dealmaking with the company of another actress three years ago. in the same thing with king
philip now. there's a lot of divergence in belgium about whether or not he should be traveling to congo, and was so whole nature of this big debate, which is restitution. there was a mask that was just unveiled in the history museum that came from this museum, and this thing about restitution is very, very much a way of clarifying belgium's colonial past and there's a lot of emotion and a lot of ideology. we are seeing this not only in belgium, but we are also seeing it in congo, where philip's visit is not universally welcomed. >> jonathan, let's come back to you. we talk about the colonial past, but what are the ongoing impacts of colonialism on democratic republic of congo today?
what is the legacy, how is it continuing to be felt? >> we see congo has not known even a decade of peace in our states independence. currently we see what's good on the part of the country. i mean it's all about control of congo's vast resources. and i believe that the actors in congo today are a mere process to some external focus who want to keep on controlling congo's resources. so the aim -- the impact is everlasting. so if it's sincere and they
approach to congo, he must go further. and get to the root of the problem, just to make sure that there is peace within the country. there's always one fight going on over the other. so what happened during the colonial times in the independence time, it still resonated. >> human rights watch suggested that financial reparations from belgium, which would be paid by the belgian taxpayer, would be balanced by the economic benefits that are driving from colonialism on which belgium continues to drive. how does belgium continue to thrive economically from its
exploitation of the democratic republic of congo, and how could belgium take full responsibility, what could that look like? quakes you only have to walk the streets of brussels to see the amount of wealth that belgian derived from congo from the colonial time onwards, and we are talking about the systematic transfer of a normal swell well from one african economy to a european economy, and this has left the congolese state in a very impoverished position. really since the end of the colonial time. so there is no question that belgium owes congo in a norma's reparations package, and there's a colonial picture here as well where we see germany having to deal with the question of reparations to namibia for the herero genocide, the british government has had to pay reparations to the victims of mau mau atrocities in kenya, this is what is spooking the
belgium government at the moment, they know there is a zeitgeist around reparations. what belgium is trying to do, to a certain extent, is to a more peaceful response for atrocities in the past. it had a commission of inquiry into atrocities committed right across central africa. there is the repatriation of masks and other artistic artifacts back to countries like the drc. i think there's a harp on the part of the belgian authorities that that will be enough, that if we had this commission of inquiry and we send a few objects back to congo, that will draw a line on the history. that's not the view in congo, that's not the view and the other belgium colonies in the region, like rwanda. the view there is, we want to see something more tangible, we want to see something much more systematic, much more material, much more financial and it needs to be on a scale comparable to the wealth belgium stole from these places in the first place. these kind of response won't cut
it. >> i could see you shaking your head there, was there something you wanted to add? >> yes, i absolutely agree, 100% with what was said. like i said, this return of the artifacts, they are also embolic. we measure the restitution and he mentioned in namibia for years. belgium's economy was built on the petition of the congo. so if it has been right, then they will see how they can offer economic restitution to the country because a countries bleeding. >> theodore, you said that after
colonialism ended in drc, it was about reconstituting the colonial space of belgium and france. can you kind of talk me through that? >> first of all i would like to follow up on what my predecessors just mentioned. that is that we have to bear in mind that belgian today -- belgium today is one of the countries in the world with a very high growth rate, very high savings rate, very high human development index. congo is usually pretty much at the bottom of the barrel. so there's a tremendous despair and see there. so this fact needs to be nuanced by current dynamics in congo's relations with other countries. belgium is a very small
commercial primary of the drc today, compared to the china, india, south africa, lots of other partners have really taken place of belgian -- belgium and commercial exchanges. congo is an important part of the belgium psyche. if belgium is an important country, they associate that importance with the role that they had in this amazingly rich and culturally diverse country that many belgians were familiar with. everyone. i'm american, i have lived in belgium for many years. i cannot go to any kind of event when i don't meet someone that says, when my uncle was in congo, my father was an administrator. there's a very, very deep social connection between belgium and congo. and this is the beginning of the
response your question about re-colonizing states. because after independence, there was a new scramble for territory in africa. really in the context of cold war politics where you had a really, really severe, looming crisis between the east and the west. it was the cuban missile crisis, and pla in angola. you had a marxist leninist regime. so there was a new crucible of how politics were being redefined. and at the same time, belgium badly needed to keep control, primarily of the mining interests it had. and this is why there was the
succession. there was the assassination or the mysterious murder of u.n.'s general secretary. there was a lot going on, and belgian did have a very dubious role here. of course there were more agents of the american cia when it comes to the assassination, when it came to this secession. belgian, i think, is very much an actor, but also very much a victim of the whole way that the cold war politics unfolded. they probably didn't think that carefully enough, this is why we are encountering so many problems now about how to deal with belgium's colonial past, which is creating a lot of emotion and a lot of ideology in belgium today. we've had a number of statues of king leopold removed from belgium cities.
there's a big debate now about renaming streets that were named after -- let's say, people responsible for all types of atrocities. there's this debate, but then there's quite a large segment of the belgian population that feels misrepresented because this lobby will say that in 1960, independence, the belgian congo had the same standard of living is canada and south africa in terms of hospital beds, primary education. so the debate in belgium itself is very, very -- in the form of colonial administrators is still quite vocal and they are probably saluting this. >> i just want to pick up on something that you said and pass
it over to phil clark. belgium, as a victim from cold war politics, i haven't heard that. is that something that's discussed in academics, exploring the postcolonial legacy? >> not typically, no. the way that belgium tends to be talked about in these debates is, firstly, in terms of its colonial legacy. so that precedes any of these cold war dynamics that pre--- that theodore was talking about. that's where the exploitation begins, that's where the pillaging of congolese wealth begins. but then what we see is belgian -- belgian continuing to metal and congolese policies. i travel to congolese regularly. i was just there a month ago. the perspective is that belgium influence, negative influence in the country continues up into
the present in terms of very opaque deals with mining companies, meddling in political affairs, the mistreatment of the congolese diaspora living in congolese today. what we are talking about is the story of fraud, unequal relations between belgium and congo from the colonial time through the cold war all the way into the present. >> when we talk about reparations and reckoning with colonial paths beyond drc, we mentioned the german government apologizing for the genocide in namibia. how does belgium compared to other former colonizing powers in its attempts to apologize to make reparations to grapple with its quite violent past? >> i can't give any concurrent
examples, but let me use the atrocities for fighters in kenya. i think a year or two ago, some of the surviving victims over in the high court here. even if the british didn't directly apologize for atrocities, at least they are judiciary. so, you do not have to directly apologize, but -- apology would be ok, but if you do apologize, you need to be an open admission of guilt. so you follow that up with some sort of restitution,
compensation, that kind of thing. that's the way i see it. >> we are nearing the end of the program. we've got a minute or so left, but i just want to ask you, is there a shift in the way that former colonial powers are approaching this reckoning with their past or approaching how to take responsibilities and accountability? >> that's an important question, but i would also like to clarify that everything about this debate about belgian relations with congo -- approximately 50% of the congolese population is 16 or 17 years old early younger. so the vast majority of congolese, a -- are very removed from these high-level political discussions about diplomatic
restitution and apologies. it's from hand to mouth on a day-to-day basis, and they are probably really not that concerned about what king philip is going to say. these are people that are struggling to feed themselves, to feed their families, and it's true that congo has been victimized over many, many years. but this is not an excuse for a weakness in the whole panel of development initiatives that is both organized and orchestrated by congo's international partners, and by cleavages within the condos that have leaked themselves that are very, very clever at keeping society very satisfied. so to place blame strictly on
one actor i think we would really be doing a disservice. it would be a shared sponsor ability of failure. >> thank you so much to all of our guests. thank you for watching. you can see the program again any time by visiting our website at al jazeera.com. for further discussion go to our facebook page. you can also join the conversation on twitter. fermi, and the whole team here, goodbye for now. ♪
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