The report, commissioned by Brussels, suggests a couple of options for dealing with the colonial statue. The expert group proposed that the statue be melted down and recast into a memorial for those who died under Léopold II’s colonial regime. Alternatively, the report suggests moving it into an open-air park specifically for colonial statues.
The bronze statue was a focal point for protestors in 2020; millions of people in Congo died under the rule of Léopold II in the late 19th century while Belgium profited from the rubber industry.
The report takes a nuanced approach to monuments in general, however. “The easiest thing would be to get rid of all the statues, but they didn’t choose that,” said Pascal Smet, the regional minister in charge of urban planning for Brussels. Instead, colonial monuments will be looked at individually, with decisions for street names falling to each of the 19 local municipalities.
Officials promise to act upon the report: an action plan will be published by September, with decisions being made by the end of the year.
This is not going to be a report that we have and say ‘ahh that’s interesting’ and then we put it on the shelf. This is going to be a report that has to be followed up.
Pascal Smet, minister for urban planning in Brussels