Atrocities in the Congo Free State

atrocitiescolonial atrocitiesa reign of terrorabuses in the Congo Free Stateatrocities being committedatrocities perpetrated on the localsBelgian atrocitiesBelgian Committed Holocaust In Congobrutalitycoercion and terror
In the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a colony under the personal rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.wikipedia
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of CongoCongoDR Congo
In the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a colony under the personal rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.
From 1885 to 1908, millions of the Kongo people died as a consequence of disease and exploitation.

Congo Free State

CongoCongoleseHeads of state of the Congo Free State
In the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a colony under the personal rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.
Leopold's reign in the Congo eventually earned infamy on account of the atrocities perpetrated on the locals.

Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold IIKing Leopold IILéopold II, King of the Belgians
In the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a colony under the personal rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians. Even before his accession to the throne of Belgium in 1865, the future king Leopold II began lobbying leading Belgian politicians to create a colonial empire in the Far East or Africa, which would expand and enhance Belgian prestige.
Leopold's administration of the Congo was characterised by murder, torture, and atrocities, resulting from notorious systematic brutality.

Natural rubber

rubberIndia rubbercaoutchouc
These atrocities were particularly associated with the labour policies used to collect natural rubber for export. The boom in demand for natural rubber, which was abundant in the territory, created a radical shift in the 1890s—to facilitate the extraction and export of rubber, all "uninhabited" land in the Congo was nationalised, with the majority distributed to private companies as concessions.
See Atrocities in the Congo Free State for more information on the rubber trade in the Congo Free State in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Belgium

BelgianBELKingdom of Belgium
Even before his accession to the throne of Belgium in 1865, the future king Leopold II began lobbying leading Belgian politicians to create a colonial empire in the Far East or Africa, which would expand and enhance Belgian prestige.
From around 1900 there was growing international concern for the extreme and savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, for whom the Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber production.

Casement Report

1904 reportCasement's reporthis report
He delivered his report in December, and a revised version was forwarded to the Free State authorities in February 1904.
The Casement Report was a 1904 document written by Roger Casement (1864–1916)—a diplomat and Irish independence fighter—detailing abuses in the Congo Free State which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Roger Casement

Sir Roger Casementabuse of the indigenous tribes in the Putumayo regionAbuses against the Putumayo Indians
Ascherson cites an estimate by Roger Casement of a population fall of three million, although he notes that it is "almost certainly an underestimate".
Setting up a private army known as the Force Publique, Leopold had squeezed revenue out of the people of the territory through a reign of terror in the harvesting and export of rubber and other resources.

Congo Reform Association

Campaigning groups such as the Congo Reform Association did not oppose colonialism and instead sought to end the excesses of the Free State by encouraging Belgium to annex the colony officially.
The Congo Reform Association (CRA) was a political and humanitarian activist group that sought to promote reform of the Congo Free State (CFS), a private territory in Central Africa under the absolute sovereignty of King Leopold II. Active from 1904-1913, the association formed in opposition to the institutionalised practices of CFS’s ‘rubber policy’, which encouraged the need to minimise expenditure and maximise profit with no political constraints – fostering a system of coercion and terror unparalleled in contemporary colonial Africa.

Stokes affair

Public interest in the abuses in the Congo Free State grew sharply from 1895, when the Stokes Affair and reports of mutilations reached the European and American public which began to discuss the "Congo Question".
The Stokes affair mobilized British public opinion against the Congo Free State, also accused of systematic humanitarian abuses by a British report published in May 1895.

King Leopold's Ghost

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial AfricaKing Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africabook of the same name
In 1999 Hochschild published King Leopold's Ghost, a book detailing the atrocities committed during the Free State existence.
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa (1998) is a best-selling popular history book by Adam Hochschild that explores the exploitation of the Congo Free State by King Leopold II of Belgium between 1885 and 1908, as well as the large-scale atrocities committed during that period.

Colonialism

colonialcolonial powerscolonialist
In the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a colony under the personal rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.

Berlin Conference

Conference of BerlinBerlin Conference (1884)Berlin West Africa Conference
At the Berlin Conference of 1884–85, the European powers allocated the Congo Basin region to a private charitable organisation run by Leopold II, who had long held ambitions for colonial expansion.

Congo Basin

CongoCongo regionCongolese
At the Berlin Conference of 1884–85, the European powers allocated the Congo Basin region to a private charitable organisation run by Leopold II, who had long held ambitions for colonial expansion.

Concession (contract)

concessionconcessionsconcessionaire
The boom in demand for natural rubber, which was abundant in the territory, created a radical shift in the 1890s—to facilitate the extraction and export of rubber, all "uninhabited" land in the Congo was nationalised, with the majority distributed to private companies as concessions.

Unfree labour

forced laborforced labourunfree labor
Between 1891 and 1906, the companies were allowed to do whatever they wished with almost no judicial interference, the result being that forced labour and violent coercion were used to collect the rubber cheaply and maximise profit.

Force Publique

A colonial militaryBelgian colonial forcesBelgo-Congolese forces
A native paramilitary army, the Force Publique, was also created to enforce the labour policies.

Smallpox

small poxvariolaVariola virus
A number of pandemics, notably African sleeping sickness, smallpox, swine influenza, and amoebic dysentery, ravaged indigenous populations.

Swine influenza

swine fluH1N1 (Swine flu)swine
A number of pandemics, notably African sleeping sickness, smallpox, swine influenza, and amoebic dysentery, ravaged indigenous populations.

Amoebiasis

amoebic dysenteryamebiasisdysentery
A number of pandemics, notably African sleeping sickness, smallpox, swine influenza, and amoebic dysentery, ravaged indigenous populations.

Christian mission

missionmissionsChristian missionaries
These details were recorded by Christian missionaries working in the Congo and caused public outrage when they were made known in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States and elsewhere.

Belgian Congo

CongoBelgian colonial ruleCongolese
In 1908, as a result of international pressure, the Belgian government annexed the Congo Free State to form the Belgian Congo, and ended many of the systems responsible for the abuses.

Historiography

historiographicalhistoriographerhistoriographic
The size of the population decline during the period is the subject of extensive historiographical debate, and there is an open debate as to whether the atrocities constitute genocide.

Henry Morton Stanley

Henry M. StanleyStanleySir Henry Morton Stanley
Determined to look for a colony for himself and inspired by recent reports from central Africa, Leopold began patronising a number of leading explorers, including Henry Morton Stanley.

International African Association

Association Internationale AfricaineInternational African SocietyAfrican International Association
Leopold established the International African Association (Association internationale africaine), a "charitable" organisation to oversee the exploration and surveying of a territory based around the Congo River, with the stated goal of bringing humanitarian assistance and civilisation to the natives.