King Lepolds Ghost Essay, Research Paper
From the beginning of time genocide has taken place and likely is not to end anytime soon. The atrocity from King Leopold s regime is one of the most unheard of cases of genocide but also one of the most gruesome. The killing and atrocities going on in Congo were full-blown genocide. The King was greedy, did not have any care or respect for his people, and also allowed and had the practice of slavery.
The main motivating factor for King Leopold to commit this mass genocide was greed. All that the King cared about was money and power. To fully understand the extent of genocide that was committed by the King you need to know the exact meaning of genocide. According to Webster Dictionary genocide means the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group. An example of the King s greed was a decree he made that by which all the land, all the rubber, and all the ivory was to be the property of the State which was himself. This made it illegal for natives to sell ivory are rubber to Europeans, and for the Europeans to buy it from the natives. The King than sent a letter to all of his officials telling them of a bonus they would receive for collecting rubber and ivory from natives at bargain prices. The officials would buy ivory and rubber that was worth a dollar for thirty cents from the natives and receive a fifteen-cent bonus. The act of doing this is illegal under article 23 section 2 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This article says Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. This article means that the natives should receive fair payment of one dollar for selling their ivory and rubber not the thirty cents that the Kings people where only willing to pay. Men who threatened disclosures were bought off, or, if that proved impossible, disappeared mysteriously.
Another way that King Leopold s regime committed genocide was through cruel and unusual punishment. This is illegal according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide. According to article two sections a, b, c killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm, and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part is illegal. Also according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article five No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There is numerous evidence that these atrocities were taking place. In one incidence 25 eight year old children were lined up and whipped 25 times each. The children kicked so frightfully that the soldiers were ordered to hold them by the hands and feet and lift them off the ground. The reason for this cruel punishment the children the night before laughed in the presence of a white man. In order not to waste cartridges of ammo for every shot native troops used they were required to bring in a right hand of a human. If they missed or killed game with their ammo the troops would just cut a right hand off a living person and use that to make up the necessary numbers. Native troops also where sent into towns and villages to strike fear into its residents. Most of these natives where cannibals and where ordered to terrorize people and if necessary kill men and women. The result was, according to the estimate of Sir H. Johnston, that in fifteen years the native population was reduced from about twenty million to scarcely nine million.
Another thing that King Leopold s people did to the innocent people of Congo was enslave them. This broke many of the articles in the Declaration of Human Rights. It broke articles one and four. Article one says All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article four says No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. The King broke these in many ways. First, each village was ordered by the authorities to collect and bring in a certain amount of rubber as much as the men could collect. If they failed to bring the required amount, their women were
taken away and kept as hostages in compounds or in the harems of government employees. Since the men where always out gathering rubber and ivory and the women where always held hostage no one could farm or work for their own well being. This caused many people to starve since there was no food. Not only did the King enslave adults but he also set up three children colonies. These colonies where basically training grounds to turn the kids into hard core killers and soldiers. The slave trade was also turning into big business in Congo. The going rate was twenty-five francs per slave. The conditions the slaves had to endure while being transported where terrible. The slaves were chained to each other by the neck. When the slaves would cross narrow bridges if one feel all the slaves would fall and die. This is an inexcusable way to die and treat a human being.
The King s actions were inexcusable. King Leopold had no respect for his people or cared for their well being. His actions in every way were genocide. He broke almost every article in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. All that King Leopold cared about was money and power. In order to obtain this he enslaved his fellow people. He also killed millions of people with no conscious at all. In order to get people to do what he wanted he threatened them with cruel and unusual punishment. The best way to sum up the atrocities going on in Congo under the reign of King Leopold is a quote from Joseph Conrad The violence, scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience.