Burundi is the latest African nation to demand reparations from their former oppressors. They have joined the Democratic Republic of Congo seeking reparations from Belgium, Germany, according to Bloomberg.
The East African nation has requested $43 billion in damages from Belgium for the harm it caused during colonial rule, the report states. The nations’ demands come after Belgian King Philippe expressed his “deepest regrets” over the role his country played in the past.
The country is also demanding Belgium return historical artifacts and other items stolen between 1899 and 1962. Burundi said many of its current challenges can be traced back to Belgian King Albert I’s decree that the population be classified into three ethnic groups.
“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” historian and doctoral researcher Aloys Batungwanayo said.
Reparations for slavery and colonial rule is not a new idea, but it has been gaining traction once again in America and abroad after the murder of George Floyd.
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Belgium lawmakers have agreed to create a panel to explore their colonial history in Burundi, Congo and Rwanda. However, there has not been an official apology.
Congolese Minister of Human Rights Andre Lite said Belgium’s spoken regrets are not enough, according to Black Enterprise.
“The regrets of certain Belgian officials will never be enough in the face of their obligation to grant reparations to the victims of colonization and their relatives,” Lite told Anadolu Agency. “It is contradictory or illogical to claim to be part of the respectful state and pretend not to know anything about serious crimes that have been committed in the past.”
He added they will continue to seek reparations despite failed attempts in the past.
“Although the horizon seems to be getting darker, after so many years of both denial of truth and the reparations to which our country is entitled from Belgium, our determination to achieve it remains intact,” Lite said.