MONDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 15, 1904.
NOTES OF THE DAY.
THE CONGO STATE.
The report written by Mr. Roger Casement, His Majesty’s Consul at Boma, upon the horrors of the Belgian administration of the Congo Free State, throws a lurid light on a scandal which we have frequently endeavoured to expose. It has long been an open secret that the methods of the Belgian authorities have been of the most abominable nature, and nobody who has given any attention to the state of affairs in those parts can fail to agree with Lord Lansdowne that “the description given in the report of the manner in which the administration is carried on, and the methods by which the revenue is collected, constitute a grave indictment.” There is no lack of evidence to support Mr. Casement’s charges. Perhaps the most significant fact which he brings forward is the marked contrast between the attitude of the natives on the British side of the frontier and those on the Belgian side. On the one side villages are numerous, on the other the country is all well-nigh uninhabited. It is time that serious investigation was made into the case. There can be no doubt as to where the root of the evil is to be found. “I am informed,” says Lord Cromer, who lately visited the country, “that the soldiers are allowed full liberty to plunder.” Licence of this kind would demoralise any troops in the world. The responsibility of these atrocities is not with the common soldiers who commit them: it lies with the Government which gives its sanction to them. It is this Government which will have to give an account of its stewardship before the Powers of Europe at no distant date. Mr. Casement’s report should decide those nations for whose reply to their Note of August the Government is still waiting. There can be no question of the truth of this report. And, this being so, there should be no delay in remedying the evils it indicates.