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Armistice Day ceremonies take place, without crowds

18:34 11/11/2020

King Philippe made his traditional Armistice Day visit to the Congress Column on Place du Congrès today. He laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the column.

A minute’s silence was held at 11.00 in recognition of the end of the First World War in 1918 on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. Then the king used his sabre to fan the eternal flame located in front of the tomb as the Last Post was played.

The federal ministers of interior affairs and defence were present at the ceremony as was admiral Michel Hofman, head of the defence department. While crowds were not allowed to gather because of the corona crisis, some passers-by were heard to yell: “Long live the king!”

Force Publique

Another Armistice Day ceremony took place today on Riga Square in Schaerbeek. Every year since 2010, the Bakushinta organisation holds a memorial in honour of the Congolese soldiers who fought with Belgium in the First and Second World Wars.

Bakushinta works to promote the contribution of the Congolese community in Belgium. Their annual ceremony recognises the soldiers of the Force Publique, the name of the Congolese army at the time. The ceremony is held in front of a statue on Riga Square – part of Parc du Hamoir – dedicated to the Force Publique.

“We are here to honour all of the veterans as a show of respect to their families and descendants,” Bakushinta chair Georgine Dibua told Bruzz. While some of the soldiers in colonial Congo volunteered to fight as part of the Belgian army, others were forced to join the war effort.

When Congo declared independence, “the soldiers of the Force Republique were promised regular financial support from the colonial state,” says Dibua. “To this day, they have received nothing.”

Photo ©Olivier Matthys/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw