Feature

Colonial brutality

The week's news at a glance.

Brussels

Belgium’s King Leopold II was responsible for the deaths of 10 million Congolese starting in the late 19th century, according to a BBC documentary aired this week. Between 1885 and 1908, the king turned the Congo into a massive labor camp, where Belgian overseers used terror tactics to force locals to harvest vast quantities of rubber. If the laborers didn’t work fast enough, their wives were kidnapped and starved to death or their children’s hands chopped off. Half of the population died during the two decades. Details about Leopold’s brutal rule first emerged in the 1980s, when historians dug through old archives, but the current government had tried to cover up the atrocities.

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