An auction house in Belgium has rendered an apology after it received backlash for trying to sell three skulls of Africans who were killed when the Democratic Republic of Congo was a colony. According to IOL, Vanderkindere auction house also canceled the auctioning of the skulls in question.
The individuals whose skulls the auction house was trying to sell were reportedly killed between January 1893 and May 1894. Vanderkindere’s attempt to sell the body parts was condemned by the human rights group, Collectif Mémoire Coloniale et Lutte contre les Discriminations (CMCLD). The group also called for a demonstration in Brussels to protest the sale of the skulls and to also call on the Belgian government to seize and conserve them “in an appropriate way and with dignity.”
The skulls were part of a private colonial collection that Vanderkindere had planned to put on public sale on December 14. “The Vanderkindere auction house sincerely apologizes for having offered at auction a lot comprising three human skulls linked to the Belgian colonial past, and this is why they are imperatively withdrawn from the sale,” the auction house said.
“We in no way condone the suffering and humiliation suffered by the people who are victims of these colonial acts. We once again offer our deepest regrets to anyone who has been hurt and hurt by the sale of this lot.”
The news of the skulls being put up for sale sparked outrage in the European nation as well as on social media. Human rights organizations labeled the decision as “dehumanizing and racist.”
Between 1908 and 1960, Belgium colonized the Central African territory formerly known as the Belgian Congo. Reports state that millions of Congolese nationals were killed under Belgian rule. Some also died due to famine and disease.