Physician heal thyself.

Author:Mbakwe, Tom
Position:Around Africa - Africa/Belgium - Brief Article

The New York-based December 12 Movement is launching an international campaign on 25 January to get Belgium tried for genocide in Congo, and for sponsoring the murder of Patrice Lumumba.

The campaign comes at a time when Belgium has appointed itself "the keeper of international human rights" under legislation that allows Brussels to prosecute foreigners for war crimes "wherever they were committed".

Under this "universal jurisdiction", Belgium tried and convicted (in June 2001) four Rwandans, including two nuns, for taking part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Belgium has also indicted the Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo, for the deaths of over 100 Ivorians during the violence in 2000 that immediately preceded his election as president.

Brussels also wants to try the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, for his involvement (as defence minister) in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in which over 800 Palestinians were killed by a proxy Lebanese army paid, fed and armed by Israel.

All this would have been "very fine" if Belgium itself were not guilty of genocide in Congo, says the December 12 Movement. "Belgium's King Leopold II," the Movement says, "engineered the infamous Berlin Conference in 1884, where Europe divided up Africa into illegal, imperialist colonial territories."

As a reward, King Leopold was given Congo, a territory 80 times bigger than Belgium. In March 1908, after Leopold's agents had cut the hands and killed over 10 million Congolese, the state of Belgium literally bought Congo from King Leopold. The negotiations for the buyout started in 1906, but Leopold dragged his feet for two years, until March 1908 when the deal was done.

"The Belgian government first of all agreed to assume [Congo's] BFrl10m worth of debt, much of them in the form of bonds Leopold had freely dispensed over the years to [his] favourites," Adam Hochschild reveals in his 1999 book, King Leopold's Ghost.

Nearly BFr32m of the debt was owed to the Belgian government itself through loans it had given years earlier to Leopold. In addition, Brussels also agreed to pay BFr45.5m towards completing Leopold's...

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