Belgian King Leopold II’s crimes in Congo, statue in Ostend


Statue of King Leopold II in Ostend, Belgium

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

More explanation at controversial statue of King Leopold II

Today, 07:58

Ostend [city in Belgium] has provided a controversial statue of King Leopold II with a plaque with more information about the monarch. The new text now also focuses on his bloody colonization of Congo.

Leopold at the end of the 19th century on his own initiative ordered to colonize an area in Africa, 75 times larger than Belgium. He ran the Congo Free State as a private colony with brute force: the local population was exploited, tortured and maimed.

In Ostend Leopold, however, was honoured with an equestrian statue in 1931, flanked by statues of Belgian fishermen who thanked him for his support of the city and Congolese who honoured him “for the liberation from slavery by the Arabs.”

Raids by Arab slave traders were only in the extreme east of Congo. Similar to today’s ‘humanitarian’ pretexts for inhuman imperialist wars, King Leopold II abused these slave raids in the extreme east of Congo, for a bloody war to conquer the whole country; making the people in all of Congo technically not ‘slaves’, but forced labourers.

A group of residents of Ostend has been conducting action against the statue. Thus, in 2004 they sawed off the hand of a Congolese in the group of statues, a reference to the brutal punishment that was often applied to the indigenous population [under King Leopold II]. Also they repeatedly removed an explanatory plaque.

African's hand cut off, as a protest against King Leopold II's atrocities in Congo

Controversy

“The colonial policy until today still causes big controversy” the new information board says, which two Congo experts have co-written. The severed hand of the statue is explicitly mentioned, though there is no further explanation of its meaning. However, it is noted that many of the investments at that time in Brussels and Ostend were paid by the profits from the colony.

The Councillor of Culture hopes that the activists will now leave the statue alone. “I especially hope that the plaque this time will stay. That always costs us time and money. We do have bigger problems in our city,” he told VRT TV.

Whether this will actually happen is the question: “I heard that they think the text is not sharp enough, they are only moderately enthusiastic”.

J.P. Coen

The affair is similar to the vicissitudes of the statue of J.P. Coen in Hoorn [town in the Netherlands]. While he was Governor General of the Dutch East Indies he increased his grip on the country with bloody campaigns against the local population.

After protests, the text on the pedestal of the statue was adapted in 2012. Now Coen’s crimes in the East are also mentioned.

This video says about itself:

[Belgium, documentary short film ] Sikitiko, The King’s Hand

26 July 2010

In 2004 a mysterious group abducts the hand of a statue, part of a monument for King Leopold II. This as an act of political activism. They would catalyse a surreal chain of events, in the best Belgian tradition. A little girl reconstructs the story…

Selected for Interfilm KUKI International filmfestival 2011, BCCN Barcelona 2011, FestivalAdiovisual Barranquilla 2011, FestivalAdiovisual Medellin 2011

‘Sikitiko’ is a short by Pieter De Vos, licensed under creative commons.

Belgian racist violence against Turkish women


This English language video says about itself (translated from Dutch):

[Belgian racist party] Vlaams Belang honours war criminals

16 July 2010

Vlaams Belang MEP Philip Claeys together with other European far-right and fascist parties visited a Japanese monument (and graveyard) which is a tribute to many convicted war criminals under the Emperor Hirohito regime. That regime rallied to the side of the Nazis [in World War II] and was responsible for rape, torture, and hundreds of thousands [rather: millions] of deaths.

That was then. Today, a consequence of Vlaams Belang Islamophobic propaganda.

Translated from Belgian (right wing) daily Het Laatste Nieuws:

He spat at us and shouted, “Take that rag off your animal head”

MARCO MARIOTTI & BJORN MAECKELBERGH

1/09/16 – 05u00

A school in Leopoldsburg has given a pupil’s father an entry ban because he attacked three women of Turkish origin during the enrolment of new pupils. He pushed a disabled woman to the ground, to her sister with a headscarf on he screamed “that she had to get that rag off her animal head.” “We don’t tolerate racism here”, says the headmistress.

“Take that rag off your animal head! And if you do not speak Dutch, then go back to Turkey.” 31 year old told Hilal was told that by another parent, when she went to enroll her son Muhammad (6) in his new school in Leopoldsburg.

That father also pushed Hilal’s disabled sister to the ground, spat on them and kicked anyone who tried to help them. The headmistress, who saw everything happen, intervenes decisively: “This is pure racism. That man is no longer welcome in our school until further notice.”

Belgian soldiers in neonazi paramilitary gang Soldiers of Odin


This video from Britain says about itself:

25 May 2012

World In Action documentary exposing Combat 18.

These two videos are the sequels.

In 2006, there was a scandal in Belgium. Several Belgian army soldiers turned out to be members of the terrorist nazi paramilitary gang Blood and Honour/Combat 18 (aka Bloed, Bodem, Eer & Trouw, BBET, as their magazine was called).

Now, a similar scandal.

Translated from Belga news agency in Belgium today:

Soldiers have to answer to membership of vigilante Soldiers of Odin

03-08-16, 06.40u

Belgian State Security and military intelligence ADIV have since early this year the Belgian branch of Soldiers of Odin in their sight. This write [daily] Het Belang van Limburg and [weekly] Knack today. The extreme right-wing group has international ramifications and is monitored because they have at least four active military men among their members.

Soldiers of Odin was founded by the Finnish neonazi Mika Ranta. The organization has local chapters in various countries, also in Belgium since January. Soldiers of Odin claims to defend Western values and sees itself as an extension of police on the streets.

Asylum seekers

The group opposes the influx of refugees. Four soldiers are members of the organization and have recently been called to account by their commanding officers. The intelligence services also follow two derivative organizations closely: Sons of Odin Antwerp and Warriors of Thor.

Beached narwhal investigated in Belgium


This 2012 video says about itself:

A narwhal‘s tusk makes it weird among whales. It’s actually a tooth that can reach 10 feet in length, and scientists have numerous theories about its powers and purpose.

From the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences:

Narwhal in the River Scheldt Probably Died of Starvation

03/05/2016

by Sigrid Maebe

On 27 April 2016, a dead narwhal was found in the river Scheldt, near the sluice of Wintam (Bornem). The autopsy revealed that the animal probably died of starvation. The narwhal is an arctic species that has never before been observed in Belgium.

An autopsy was carried out on the stranded narwhal in a joint effort by scientists of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the University of Ghent and the University of Liège.

The advanced state of decomposition makes establishing a cause of death difficult. However, no traces of a ship collision were present. The emaciated condition and the out of range position (more than 100 km away from the sea, and many thousands of km from its home range), indicates a natural process of starvation. Narwhal normally eat fish, crustaceans and cephalopods.

No food remains were found in its stomach or intestine, but, in the stomach, a number of small plastic items and small pieces of eroded driftwood were found. These items are very common in the river Scheldt and are concentrated in certain areas. Their presence in the stomach of the narwhal would indicate that the dying animal had swallowed them in the river and not at sea. We speculate therefore that it had swum up the river, and had died there shortly afterwards. The autopsy also revealed a heart condition and possibly also a thyroid problem. Several examinations and tests have started, including genetic and parasite analyses.

The stranded narwhal was a juvenile male with a (body) length 3,04 m long and a girth of 1,81 m. The tusk protruded 0,7 m out of its body (it can be 3 m long in adult males). The narwhal weighed 290 kg which is more than 150 kg too light for an animal of this length.

This is the first record of a narwhal in Belgium. Only a handful of observations and strandings are known in Europe, including an animal that was killed in the (former) Zuiderzee (The Netherlands) in 1912. Narwhals usually stay north of the 70° North latitude, and their home range includes arctic waters of Russia, Greenland and Canada. This is probably the most southerly record from Europe.

The skeleton of the narwhal will be prepared, and will be taken up in the collection of RBINS. RBINS would like to thank all persons involved in the discovery, securing, transportation and study of this exceptional animal that was discovered in a very unusual location.

Three ‘Earth-like’ planets discovered


This video says about itself:

Three New Earth-Like Planets orbiting Star TRAPPIST 1 Might Be Our Best Bet For Finding Life

2 May 2016

The three Earth-like planets around the Star TRAPPIST-1 were discovered using transit method, only detection method currently available to us.

The Transit method looks for dims in star light as planets pass in front of it, the amount of dimming determines the size of the planet and location of the planet.

Belgian astronomers discovered the three potentially habitable Earth-like planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, named TRAPPIST-1, about 40 light-years from Earth. These are some of the smallest exoplanets ever discovered, with a radius only slightly bigger than Earth’s, and they are the first planets discovered around an ultracool dwarf – a dim star not much bigger than Jupiter. Their results are published in Nature.

The most exciting thing about this discovery, made by the Belgian TRAPPIST telescope as the planets passed in front of the star, is that these planets are close enough for us to study. Many of the other potentially habitable worlds we’ve found are much further away and around much brighter stars, making them more difficult to observe.

“These are the first planets similar in size and temperature to Earth and Venus for which we can study the atmospheric composition in detail, and really constrain the surface conditions and habitability,” lead author Dr. Michaël Gillon from the University of Liège told IFLScience.

At first glance, the system might not seem that promising. Two of the planets, TRAPPIST- 1b and c, have years lasting about 1.5 and 2.4 Earth days respectively, meaning they orbit very closely, while TRAPPIST-1d has a less well determined period in the range of 4.5 to 73 days. However, the star has a surface temperature of only 2,550 Kelvins (2,277°C / 4,130 °F ), so they are unlikely to be inferno worlds. Instead, they could be quite the opposite.

The closest two planets receive no more than four times the amount of radiation received by Earth, while the furthest planet likely receives less. This puts the planets at the edges of the star’s habitable zone, the region in which liquid water can exist. It’s not certain if the planets are solid, but TRAPPIST-1 is rich in heavy elements, which indicates a suitable evironment for rocky planets to form.

The planets have a radius of 1.11, 1.05, and 1.16 times that of Earth, which combined with their locations strongly indicates that these objects possess some of the right conditions for life. The planets’ temperatures could range from slightly higher than water’s boiling point to well below freezing.

Tune used in this video is: Surfing Llama and artist name is Bird Creek.

By Michael McLaughlin in the USA:

Astronomers Find 3 ‘Temperate’ Planets That May Support Life

The Earth-like planets are the first ones found orbiting an ultracool dwarf star.

05/02/2016 06:30 pm ET

Astronomers say three recently discovered planets similar to Earth’s size and temperature may have conditions that could sustain life.

An international team observed the three planets orbiting a reddish, ultracool dwarf star, once thought too dim to anchor a solar system. Their research, published in the journal Nature on Monday, said these are the first planets ever seen orbiting an ultracool dwarf star.

“Systems around these tiny stars are the only places where we can detect life on an Earth-sized exoplanet with our current technology,” co-author Michael Gillon, of the University of Liege in Belgium, said in a statement. “So if we want to find life elsewhere in the universe, this is where we should start to look.”

Previously, scientists have only found exoplanets — planets that do not orbit our sun — with conditions unlike Earth’s. In November, for instance, a rocky, Earth-sized planet was found 39 light years away, but its temperature was estimated at 300 degrees to 600 degrees. The discovery of the three potentially habitable planets may encourage researchers to look more closely at the huge numbers of ultracool dwarf stars.

The three planets orbit a star in the Aquarius constellation named Trappist-1, which is about the size of Jupiter. But the planets are close enough to the star to have “temperate” conditions on their surface, MIT researcher Julien De Wit told NPR.

The planets are about 40 light years from Earth — making them nearby in galactic terms.

The nearness and their star’s dimness will make it easier for scientists to study the exoplanets, which are often tough to analyze when orbiting a distant, bright star.

Each of the planets has a side that’s perpetually in daylight and another side that’s completely dark. The most likely region to support life would be along the line separating day and night, where temperatures would be less extreme, according to Gizmodo.

The nearest two planets complete their revolutions around the star in 1.5 days and 2.4 days. Scientists haven’t completely charted the last planet’s orbit, but it could take from 4.5 to 72.8 days.

Astronomers don’t yet know what the planets are made of, and want to check for liquid water, the foundation for life.

Researchers may get further information about the atmospheric conditions after monitoring what happens to the star’s light when the planets pass in front of it, according to The Verge. The presence of different gases on the planets will cause the light to behave differently.

The team used the Trappist telescope in Chile to study 60 stars too dim to see with the naked eye, according to Gizmodo. NASA’s planned launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 could be useful, as one of its missions is to search for solar systems supporting life.