Women separated from Congolese mothers during colonial era sue Belgium for reparation

Five women born in Congo during the colonial era but forcefully taken from their mothers have filed a lawsuit against Belgium seeking reparations for crimes against humanity. The five are just a representation of the numerous biracial babies inhumanely taken from their black mothers, denying them of parental care.

These babies named the Métis, some of which were as young as 2years were flown to Belgium, far away from their mothers and placed in orphanages, foster homes or religious mission houses. They were mostly born out of abusive sexual relationships between colonial settlers and the black women of which their Belgian fathers mostly failed to recognize them. They were declared properties of the colonial power.

Historical documents have it that the mothers were made to sign documents in languages they didn’t understand, approving the forceful agenda or face punishment. To the average Congolese woman, the Belgian colonial era was a tough period.

The five women who filed the suit, Lea Tavares Mujinga, Monique Bintu Bingi, Noelle Verbeken, Simone Ngalula and Marie-Jose Loshi felt the need to hold the former colonial power responsible for these atrocious acts. The five were separated from their mothers between the age of two (2) to Four (4). Apart from justice for being subjected to such treatments, they are demanding an initial sum of €50,000 as compensation. They are also demanding that an expert be called upon to assess the emotional damages suffered as Bintu Bingi who w “we were destroyed. Apologies are easy, but when you do something, you have to take responsibility for it.”

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Michele Hirsh, lawyer representing the five, told the court that, “my clients have been kidnapped, mistreated, ignored, and kicked out from the world. They are living proof of an unacknowledged state crime;” she added that, “the Belgian state did not have the courage to go all the way and to name its crime because its responsibility evokes damages and interests.”

Charles Michel, the then Prime Minister of Belgium made an open apology in which he admitted that mixed-race people “were victims under the colonial administration of the Belgian Congo and Rwanda-Urundi until 1962 and following decolonization, as well as the policy of forced kidnappings associated with it.”

Commenting on the apology rendered by Belgium for its colonial past, Bintu Bingi, one of the five who was in court said “we were destroyed. Apologies are easy, but when you do something, you have to take responsibility for it.”

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