April 23, 2019

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Belgium to Apologize for Kidnapping Children From African Colonies

Belgium to Apologize for Kidnapping Children From African Colonies
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BRUSSELS — Belgium was expected to apologize 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 would be the first time that Belgium recognized any responsibility for what historians have said was the immense harm the country inflicted on the Central African nations, which it colonized for eight decades. The apology, coming nearly 60 years after the three countries became independent, was set to be delivered by Prime Minister Charles Michel on Thursday afternoon in front of a plenary session of Parliament.

“Children born out of parents of mixed color during colonial times were always considered as a threat to the colonial enterprise, to profits and to the prestige and the domination of the white race,” said Assumani Budagwa, 65, a Belgian engineer and amateur historian who was born in colonial Congo and whose family experienced the separation of mixed-race children.

Mr. Budagwa was co-author of a Parliamentary resolution that was unanimously adopted last year urging the government to apologize and recognizing Belgium’s misdeeds regarding the metis, or mixed-race, children with the complicity of the Roman Catholic Church.

The resolution also demanded that the government open up its colonial archives and grant administrative help to hundreds of people in Congo and in Belgium who still do not possess their official birth certificates, and to those who wish to reconstitute their true family history.

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