Monday, August 17, 2020

Reparations for Burundi?

The East African country is a former German colony and lived under Belgian rule until gaining independence almost 60 years ago. From 1890, Germany colonized Burundi, which became part of German East Africa. Although less well-known than other colonial powers, Germany was at one time the fourth-largest colonial power in the world.

In addition to German East Africa, which was made up of present-day Rwanda and parts of Tanzania in addition to Burundi, Germany had territories in what is now Ghana and Namibia and elsewhere. After WWI, the country was ruled by Belgium, until it gained its independence in 1962. Its leaders plan to ask the two ex-rulers to pay damages — and not just cash. 

Burundi wants Germany and Belgium to pay €36 billion ($42.6 billion) in reparations for colonial rule. The country also intends to demand the European countries return stolen historical artifacts and archive material.

During the colonial era, the ruling powers strengthened the divide between the Hutu and Tutsi groups. This contributed to deadly ethnic conflict between them in the 1970s and then another civil war for 12 years from 1993, which killed some 300,000 people. The Belgium government carried out a program of kidnapping biracial children from Burundi and then Belgium Congo during the 1940s and 50s.

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