Atrocities Against Congolese Laborers Are Exposed (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: King Leopold II of Belgium colonized the Congo Basin as his personal domain, maximizing his personal profits by having his agents commit unspeakable atrocities against the people of the Congo.
Summary of Event
As Europe emerged from its Dark Ages, it struggled to break the Arab stranglehold on trade by developing sea routes to other continents. By the late 1400’s, Portugal had pioneered sea routes along Africa’s west and southern coasts. During explorations of Africa’s coast, Europeans made contact with many African states that had achieved roughly equal levels of political development. Among these was the Congo kingdom.
Europe became wealthy as a result of a bloody and violent trade that developed in African slaves. Moral outrage and declining profits, however, curtailed the slave trade in the New World by the late 1800’s. Europeans sought a new basis for their relationship with Africa and tried free trade. Africans proved so adept at pitting European rivals against each other that they nearly caused wars in Europe between rival commercial partners. To prevent competition from escalating out of control, fourteen world powers convened a conference in Berlin in 1884-1885. In essence, they carved up Africa among themselves. Belgium received the Congo and the right to monopolize internal and external trade and government.
King Leopold II of Belgium convinced the Berlin...
(The entire section is 2440 words.)
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