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belgian history clean as a whistle

  1. Turning the attention onto Belgium's motives for holding war-crimes tribunals for actions where they have no sovereignty or connection eg an attempt to distract world attention away from the huge amount of scandals that have shaken this tiny country (that exports more than three quarters of its production in goods and services abroad) between 1995-2000, from the corruption scandals in arms contracts where Socialist Party leaders played a prominent role, to the sexual abuse and murder of young children, to the dioxin contamination of foodstuffs,... to mention only the most important.

    Turning attention onto Belgium's own record of war-crimes in Central Africa,ie the Congo (Zaire), Rwanda and Burundi

    Some examples are:
    Colonialisation war-crimes in the Congo between 1880 and 1920
    Collaboration in the 17/1/1961 brutal torture and murder of Patrice
    Lumumba, Congo's first and only elected PM (Belgian govt's
    foreknowledge acknowledged in a Belgian Parliamentary Commission in

    Suspected involvement in the 1969 kidnap and murder of his opponent, Tshombe

    Suspected collaboration with PDC agents in 1961 assassination of Prince Rwagasore of Burundi

    Suspicious death in 1959 of Mwami (King) Charles Rudahigwa Mutara III after injection by Belgian doctor

    Racist colonialisation policies in Rwanda that created hatred between ethnically indistinguishable Hutu and Tutsi by systematic active discrimination against Hutus including identity card system - only Tutsis could receive higher education or administrative posts
    Belgian refusal to protect 800,000 Rwandans (Tutsis and moderate Hutus) from genocide, including:

    Prior knowledge of 1994 genocide

    Choice to argue against UN peacekeeper upgrade and for reduction instead - from 2700 before genocide down to 270 after the genocide began (for a country of maybe 10 million people, just enough to evacuate foreign citizens)Removal of Belgian peacekeepers soon after genocide began

    The Human Rights Watch report on the roots and facts of the Rwandan genocide can be accessed at

    Some other sites for the above list are excerpted below, if you want more details:

    Belgians committed war-crimes in the Congo. Between 1880 and 1920, ten million Africans in the Belgian Congo were victims of murder, starvation, disease or being worked to death. Kidnapping, village-burning, systematic rape, threats of hands and feet being cut off are all documented. The instrument of repression was a whip called the chicotte.

    On January 17, 1961, Congo's first (and only) elected PM, Patrice Lumumba was brutally tortured by Belgian police officials in Katanga, brought before a police firing squad and executed, after a coup by pro-Western dictator Mobuto Sese Seko who renamed Congo Zaire and ruled for 30 years, succeeded by the Kabila dynasty and ongoing civil war. Belgium collaborated in the assassination because Lumumba was pro-Soviet, nationalist and anti-imperialist.

    A Belgian Parliamentary Commission found in 2002 that Belgium had been "morally responsible" for the killing, that the government and the late king knew of the plans and did nothing to stop them. They
    ordered an apology and a fund. However Belgian historian/sociologist Ludo de Witte has documented that the then-Belgian Minister for African Affairs Harold Aspermont Lynen secretly ordered the assassination. Other Belgian officials allegedly involved include
    Pierre Wigny, Gerard Soete, Franz Verscheure, and others (mostly now deceased)

    Also suspected of complicity in 1969 kidnap and murder of Lumumba's arch enemy Tshombe

    http://www.afrol.com/News2002/drc003_lumumba_bel.htm http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,647318,00

    Burundi assassination of Prince Rwagasore - "1961...13 October he
    was assassinated by agents of the PDC, almost certainly with Belgian assistance."...
    "Belgium established military rule in 1916, receiving a mandate to govern from the League of Nations in 1919. As in Rwanda, the administration placed great emphasis on forced crop cultivation and forced labour, and its increasingly onerous requirements, coupled
    with growing demands from those recognised as "nativeauthorities" by the administration, resulted in peasant uprisings in the 1920s and 30s"


    Rwanda death of Mwami (King) Charles Rudahigwa Mutara III after injection by Belgian doctor - "1959: The jacquérie takes place - a social revolution by the Hutu population supported by Belgium. Tens of thousands of Tutsi flee into exile. The same year, mwami Mutara Rudahigwa dies mysteriously in Bujumbura. He is succeeded by his brother, Kigeri Ndahindurwa."

    At the same time that the Belgians enabled the officials to demand more from the people, they decreed that Tutsi alone should be officials. They systematically removed Hutu6 from positions of power and they excluded them from higher education, which was meant mostly as preparation for careers in the administration. Thus they imposed a Tutsi monopoly of public life not just for the 1920s and 1930s, but for the next generation as well. The only Hutu to escape
    relegation to the laboring masses were those few permitted to study in religious seminaries.

    Once the Belgians had decided to limit administrative posts and higher education to the Tutsi, they were faced with the challenge of deciding exactly who was Tutsi. Physical characteristics identified
    some, but not for all. Because group affiliation was supposedly inherited, genealogy provided the best guide to a person's status, but tracing genealogies was time-consuming and could also be inaccurate, given that individuals could change category as their fortunes rose or fell. The Belgians decided that the most efficient procedure was simply to register everyone, noting their group affiliation in writing, once and for all. All Rwandans born subsequently would also be registered as Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa at the time of their birth. The system was put into effect in the 1930s, with each Rwandan asked to declare his group identity.8 Some 15 percent of the population declared themselves Tutsi, approximately 84 percent said they were Hutu, and the remaining 1 percent said
    they were Twa. This information was entered into records at the local government office and indicated on identity cards which adult Rwandans were then obliged to carry. Theestablishment of written
    registration did not completely end changes in group affiliation. In this early period Hutu who discovered the advantages of being Tutsi sometimes managed to become Tutsi even after the records had been established, just as others more recently have found waysto erase their Tutsi origins. But with official population registration, changing groups became more difficult.

    The very recording of the ethnic groups in written form enhanced their importance and changed their character. No longer flexible and amorphous, the categories became so rigid and permanent that some
    contemporary Europeans began referring to them as "castes." The ruling elite, most influenced by European ideas and the immediate beneficiaries of sharper demarcation from other Rwandans,
    increasingly stressed their separateness and their presumed superiority. Meanwhile Hutu, officially excluded from power, began to experience the solidarity of the oppressed.

    Mutara collapsed and died just after seeing a Belgian doctor in Bujumbura, the capital of neighboring Burundi. Conservative Tutsi accused the Belgians of having poisoned him, a charge which some
    Rwandans still believe, although no proof has been advanced to support it)

    The failure of Belgian peacekeepers to protect 800,000 Rwandans (Tutsis and moderate Hutus) from genocide

    In 1990 there were 5000 UN peacekeepers in Rwanda.

    "The United States, Belgium, France and the U.N. Security Council all had prior warning about plans for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and could have prevented it, according to a human rights report released Wednesday.""The officer in charge of a U.N. peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire of Canada warned in early 1994 of plans to carry out a systematic killing. But U.N. officials consistently refused his calls for reinforcements and allow the peacekeepers to intervene to stop the killings, the report said.

    Ten Belgian peacekeepers were killed on the first day of the genocide, prompting Belgium to pull its troops out and support the U.S. position against increasing the peacekeepers' mandate. France, which was a close ally of the Hutu government in Rwanda, has been accused of sending military support to Rwanda both before and during the genocide. A French parliamentary inquiry last year deflected blame on U.N. and U.S. policy.

    "The Americans were interested in saving money, the Belgians were interested in saving face, and the French were interested in saving their ally, the genocidal government," said Alison Des Forges, a scholar on Rwanda and author of the report.

    "The roots of Rwanda's genocide lie in its colonial experience.

    First occupied and colonized by the Germans (1894-1916), during World War I the country was taken over by the Belgians, who ruled until independence in 1962. ..."It is often remarked that the violence between Hutus and Tutsis goes back to time immemorial and can never be averted, but Belgian records show that in fact there was a strong sense among Rwandans ... of belonging to a Rwandan nation, and that before around 1960, violence [along] ethnic lines was uncommon and mass murder of the sort seen in 1994 was unheard of." (Wrage, "Genocide in Rwanda: Draft Case Study for Teaching Ethics and International Affairs," 2000)...

    It was also the Belgians who (in 1933) instituted the identity-card system that designated every Rwandan as Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa (the last of these is an aboriginal group that in 1990 comprised about 1 percent of the Rwandan population). The identity cards were retained into the post-independence era, and provided crucial assistance to the architects of genocide as they sought to isolate their Tutsi victims... the Belgians switched their allegiance to the Hutus. Vengeful Hutu elements murdered about 15,000 Tutsis between 1959 and 1962, and more than 100,000 Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries, notably Uganda and Burundi. Tutsis remaining in Rwanda were stripped of much of their wealth and status


    From the first hours after the killings began, U.S., Belgian, and French policymakers knew that Tutsi were being slain because they were Tutsi. Dallaire delivered that same information in a telegram to U.N. headquarters on April 8. Early accounts by journalists on the spot also depicted systematic, widespread killings on an ethnic basis. The simultaneous selective slaughter of Hutu opposed to Hutu Power complicated the situation but did not change the genocidal nature of attacks on Tutsi and, in any case, killings of Hutu diminished markedly after the first days. Given the pattern of killings, given previous massacres of Tutsi, given the propaganda demanding their extermination, given the known political positions of the persons heading the interim government, informed observers must have seen that they were facing a genocide

    At about this time, France and Belgium, and perhaps the United States,briefly discussed using troops of the evacuation force to halt the killings, but they dropped the idea. The RPF, suspicious of French intentions, warned that it would attack soldiers who stayed longer than was necessary to evacuate foreigners and Rwandan government soldiers, who had already proved that they would kill Belgian troops, were presumed ready to kill more. Whether these risks provided the real reason or merely a pretext for their rapid departure, the French and Belgian troops boarded their planes and flew away. According to Dallaire, the evacuation force left him and the peacekeepers "on the tarmac, with the bullets flying and the bodies piling up" around them.the Security Council debated the complete withdrawal of the peacekeeping operation, a decision which would have abandoned some 30,000 unarmed civilians then in U.N. posts, just as the others had been deserted the day before. The Belgians promoted this idea aggressively outside the council while the U.S. led the forces in its favor at the council table. A member of the secretariat even suggested that protection of civilians might not be an appropriate activity for a peacekeeping operation. But Nigeria, other council members, and finally the secretary-general insisted that the lives of "innocent civilians of Rwanda" must be taken into account. They delayed the decision long enough for U.S. policymakers and others to reconsider their position.

    On April 21, the Security Council withdrew most of the U.N. troops and left only a few hundred peacekeepers to protect civilians already directly under the U.N. flag.

    To be exact, after the death of 10 Belgian soldiers, the report says, "Exactly two weeks after the genocide began --following strenuous lobbying for total withdrawal led by Belgium and Britain, and with American U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright [yes, the same woman who called for NATO air strikes to save Kosovo Albanians] advocating the most token of forces and the United States adamantly refusing to accept publicly that a full-fledged, Convention-defined genocide was in fact taking place --the Security Council made the astonishing decision to reduce the already inadequate UNAMIR [U.N. Assistance Mission to Rwanda peacekeeping] force to a derisory 270 men."

    What's worse, "The U.N. Secretariat officials then instructed [UNAMIR commander] General [Romeo] Dallaire that his rump force was not to take an active role in protecting Rwandan citizens." An April 9, 1994, cable from U.N. officials Kofi Annan, now secretary-general, and Iqbal Riza set the guidelines for UNAMIR: "You should make every effort not to compromise your impartiality or to act beyond your mandate, but [you] may exercise your discretion to do [so] should this be essential for the evacuation of foreign nationals. This should not, repeat not, extend to participating in possible combat except in self-defense." In short, the U.N. troops may fight to rescue foreigners, but not Rwandans

    On January 11, 1994, General Dallaire sent a cable to Kofi Annan, head of UN Peace Keepings that detailed credible evidence from a Rwandan government informer of a plan to kill Belgian UNAMIR troops and then murder all Tutsi living in Kigali. The informer also detailed the location of secret arms caches for this purpose. Despite General Dallaire's efforts, the 2,700 United Nations peacekeeping troops stationed in Rwanda at the time were withdrawn to about 270 troops within days... However, the decrease of troops was mostly due to the fact that Belgium decided to withdraw its troops out of Rwanda due to the assassination of the dozen or so Belgium soldiers

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