Belgium Apologizes for Kidnapping Children From African Colonies

Human Rights :: Colonial Rule/Reparations

Belgium Apologizes for Kidnapping Children From African Colonies
By Milan Schreuer
The New York Times, April 4, 2019
BRUSSELS — Belgium apologized on Thursday for the kidnapping, segregation, deportation and forced adoption of thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during its colonial rule of Burundi, Congo and Rwanda.

The apology is the first time that Belgium has recognized any responsibility for what historians say was the immense harm the country inflicted on the Central African nations, which it colonized for eight decades. Prime Minister Charles Michel offered the apology on Thursday afternoon in front of a plenary session of Parliament, which was attended by dozens of people of mixed race in the visitors gallery.

“Throughout Belgian colonial Africa, a system of targeted segregation of métis and their families was maintained by the Belgian state and acts were committed that violated the fundamental rights of peoples,” he said, using the term for mixed-race people.
“This is why, in the name of the federal government, I recognize the targeted segregation of which métis people were victims” under Belgian colonial rule in Africa, and “the ensuing policy of forced kidnapping” after independence, he added.
“In the name of the federal government,” Mr. Michel said, “I present our apologies to the métis stemming from the Belgian colonial era and to their families for the injustices and the suffering inflicted upon them.”

“I also wish to express our compassion for the African mothers, from whom the children were taken,” he said.

The prime minister said that the Belgian government would make resources available to finance additional research on the issue, open up its colonial archives to métis people and offer administrative help to those seeking to gain access to their official records and seeking Belgian nationality…

[Official transcript of PM’s address to Belgian Parliament not yet posted]