Title: "The Hague Dodges Serious Problems"

Journal: Chicago Daily Tribune

Place of Publication: Chicago

Date: July 21, 1907

Place: Congo Free State

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The Hague Dodges Serious Problems

Opportunities to Settle Troublous Questions Not Seized by the Conferees.

Congress May Be Fizzle

Countries Unwilling to Consider Matters That Will Reveal Their Sore Spots.

By Ex-Attache.

[. . .]

Leopold Avoids Investigation.

Among the reasons for this attitude on the part of the various governments represented in the convention at The Hague is that each of them have difficulties on their hands in which they are anxious to avoid foreign interference. Thus, while the interests of humanity and civilization would be served. King Leopold would have everything to lose by a submission of the atrocious conditions prevailing in the Congo Free State to the consideration of The Hague congress. For several years past the great powers of Europe and the United States have been contemplating the organization of an international congress for the purpose of calling Leopold to account, not only for his mismanagement of the Congo valley but likewise for his failure to fulfill any of those obligations which he accepted as part and parcel of the conditions under which he was intrusted with the sovereignty of that portion of the dark continent by the powers in question, when they met in convention about the matter at Berlin in 1884.

If England and other of the Congo treaty powers have refrained until now from active intervention in the affair. It has been due to their reluctance to saddle themselves with additional colonial responsibilities, and to add to their "white man's burden" in Africa. Nor were they anxious to bring about the possible downfall of a dynasty which they themselves in the first place had imposed upon Belgium, and afterward on the Congo Free State. Moreover, while distrusting Leopold's pledges of reform, they have all along hoped that the Belgian government would itself assume control of the Congo valley as a Belgian colony, subject to the Brussels parliament, and thus emancipate this unhappy corner of the dark continent from the despotic and greedy sway of the Belgian king, who now reigns there as an autocrat more tyrannical than any oriental potentate. A large portion of the population of Belgium is, however, averse to saddling the kingdom with the Free State, or, to acquiring it under any conditions whatsoever, and Leopold is taking advantage of this to delay matters; whereas, a speedy solution of the entire problem might have been found if the so-called Congo question could have been brought before the congress at The Hague.

The government there represented could, after due consideration, have availed themselves of the discussion to cancel the concession of the Congo valley which they granted to Leopold in 1884, on the ground that he had violated all the conditions of the agreement then made, and might have vested the sovereignty of the valley in the hands of the Belgian nation, or of some other power which would have been ready to undertake the responsibility of administering the territory for the benefit of civilization and of the trade of the world.

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