The five plaintiffs grew up together in a Catholic school in Katende, in what is the province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Ms. Tavares Mujinga, one of the plaintiffs, said she and her fellow students lived like prisoners, with insufficient clothing and food. In letters sent to the regional authorities in the early 1950s and seen by The New York Times, the nuns warned about a lack of food, and the insalubrious dormitory and canteen.

Ms. Tavares Mujinga said a scar on her forehead comes from a nun who hit her when she was 5, and that the scars on her legs are from ulcers she got from malnutrition. But the deepest scars are psychological, she said. When Ms. Tavares Mujinga came back to her family as a teenager, her mother told her she had been forced to abandon her to avoid reprisals from the authorities.

Following Congo’s independence in 1960, some of the youngest children were abandoned to a militant group after the nuns left the area. Many of the girls were raped, according to Ms. Bintu Bingi.

“These are not stories you can tell your children,” Ms. Bintu Bingi said in an interview as she recalled how she opened up to her daughter in recent years. “The Belgian state destroyed us, psychologically and physically.”

The women moved to Belgium in the 1980s and later and all live there, except for one who moved to France.

Some legal experts are divided on whether the forced separation of the mixed-race children from their mothers amounts to crimes against humanity. Ms. Hirsch, the plaintiff’s lawyer, argued that it did, because Belgium state had tried to wipe out the civil existence of métis children.

Emmanuel Jacubowitz, a lawyer representing the Belgian state at the hearing, said the authorities didn’t deny that the policy was racist and segregationist, but that it wasn’t seen as violating fundamental rights at the time.

Eric David, a professor of international law at the University of Brussels, said it was a stretch to call the practice crimes against humanity. “There was deportation, detention, and what could amount to torture,” Mr. David said. “But there were no slavery, murder, or systemic rapes in those schools.”

Mr. Jacubowitz added that hundreds of similar requests for compensation could follow.

“It may be that Belgium’s fear is to open the tap for reparations,” said Ms. Lauwers, the archivist.

Déborah Mbongu, the granddaughter of Ms. Tavares, said she struggled to understand why Belgium was so reluctant to pay. The plaintiffs say they didn’t sue for money, but Ms. Mbongu, 23, said it was essential her grandmother and others were recognized as victims.

“For our shared history,” she said, “a crime must lead to reparations. It’s just fundamental.”

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Kidnappers in Haiti Demand $17 Million to Free Missionary Group

Once a relatively small criminal operation that operated in the countryside and trafficked in stolen cars, the gang expand its criminal activities in the chaotic months following the president’s assassination, said Mr. Jean, the human rights group director. By forging alliances with other armed groups, it was able to control an area stretching from the east of Port-au-Prince to the border with the Dominican Republic — a territory so vast that the police are unable to pursue gang members.

“The police are in a situation of powerlessness,” Mr. Jean said.

The 400 Mawozo gang accounted for 60 percent of the kidnappings from July to September, Mr. Jean said. They are held responsible for kidnapping five priests and two nuns this year, and are also believed to have killed Anderson Belony, a well-known sculptor who had worked to improve his community, according to local news reports.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the State Department was working with the F.B.I., the Haitian national police, churches and other groups to get the hostages released. But he noted that the kidnappings were “also indicative of a larger problem, and that is a security situation that is, quite simply, unsustainable.”

Mr. Blinken said the United States would continue to support the Haitian police and community programs in their efforts to stem gang violence. “But it’s a very challenging, and long-term process,” he said.

Gangs have gained so much power that they have taken on a nearly institutional role in some communities, said Mr. Vorbe, the political party leader, substituting for the police or providing basic services like road cleaning.

“​​They have stepped in for the state,” he said.

The growing gang presence, and now the attack on a group of missionaries, have cast a pall over other aid organizations and projects in the country.

In Fond Parisien, about 20 minutes from where the kidnapping took place, is another mission project called Redeemed Vocational School, which teaches trades like auto mechanics, sewing, and computer skills. The group had been planning to build a larger school building, but the violence has made it harder to travel and get supplies, said Kenlyn Miller, 46, the chairman of the school’s board in Gambier, Ohio.

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Hundreds More Unmarked Graves Found at Former Residential School in Canada

CALGARY, Alberta — For decades, the Indigenous children were taken from their families, sometimes by force, and housed in crowded, church-run boarding schools, where they were abused and prohibited from speaking their languages. Thousands vanished altogether.

Now, a new discovery offers chilling evidence that many of the missing children may have died at these schools: The remains of as many as 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were found at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, an Indigenous group said on Thursday.

The burial site, the largest one to date, was uncovered only weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former church-run school for Indigenous students in British Columbia.

The discoveries have jolted a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people, many of whom are survivors of the boarding schools. For decades, they suggested through their oral histories that thousands of children disappeared from the schools, but they were often met with skepticism. The revelations of two unmarked grave sites are another searing reminder of this traumatic period in history.

Chief Cadmus Delorme, of the Cowessess First Nation.

The recent unearthing of remains in Canada have reverberated globally, including in the United States, where this week the interior secretary said the country would search federal boarding schools for possible burial sites of Native American children. Hundreds of thousands of them were forcibly taken from their communities to be culturally assimilated in the schools for more than a century.

a system started in the 19th century that took Indigenous children from their families.

A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in 2008 to investigate the residential schools, called the practice “cultural genocide.” Many children never returned home, and their families were given only vague explanations of their fates, or none at all. Canada had about 150 residential schools and an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children passed through the schools between their opening, around 1883, and their closing in 1996.

The commission estimated that about 4,100 children went missing nationwide from the schools. But an Indigenous former judge who led the commission, Murray Sinclair, said in an email this month that he now believed the number was “well beyond 10,000.”

1.7 million Indigenous citizens, who make up about 4.9 percent of the population, the finding of yet another mass burial site is a visceral reminder of centuries of discrimination and abuse, which has led to intergenerational trauma among survivors of residential schools and their families.

“There’s no denying this: All of the stories told by our survivors are true,” Chief Cameron said.

Florence Sparvier, 80, an elder of the Cowessess First Nation, said she attended two residential schools, including Marieval, the school where the unmarked remains were found.

were forced to attend residential schools in a forced assimilation program. Most of these schools were operated by churches, and all of them banned the use of Indigenous languages and Indigenous cultural practices, often through violence. Disease, as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse were widespread. An estimated 150,000 children passed through the schools between their opening and their closing in 1996.

  • The Missing Children: A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up as part of a government apology and settlement over the schools, concluded that at least 4,100 students died while attending them, many from mistreatment or neglect, others from disease or accident. In many cases, families never learned the fate of their offspring, who are now known as “the missing children.”
  • The Recent Discovery: In May, members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation found 215 bodies at the Kamloops school — which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church until 1969 — after bringing in ground-penetrating radar.
  • ‘Cultural Genocide’: In a 2015 report, the commission concluded that the system was a form of “cultural genocide.” Murray Sinclair, a former judge and senator who headed the commission, recently said he now believed the number of disappeared children was “well beyond 10,000.”
  • Apologies and Next Steps: The commission called for an apology from the pope for the Roman Catholic church’s role. Pope Francis stopped short of one, but the archbishop of Vancouver apologized on behalf of his archdiocese. Canada has formally apologized and offered financial and other search support, but Indigenous leaders believe the government still has a long way to go.
  • In September 2017, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the nation’s past “humiliation, neglect and abuse” of Indigenous people, and vowed in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly to improve their lives.

    Pope Francis has still not taken that step. By contrast, the leadership of the United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, apologized in 1998 for its role in running the schools.

    Since the Kamloops announcement, Chief Cameron said, he has been traveling around the province, where farming and mining are major industries, looking at former school sites.

    “You can see with your plain eye the indent of the ground where these bodies are to be found,” he said in an interview Wednesday night. “These children are sitting there, waiting to be found.”

    Vjosa Isai in Toronto contributed reporting.

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    A Nun and a Doctor, She’s One of Europe’s Longstanding Vaccine Skeptics

    MONTSERRAT, Spain — Sister Teresa Forcades came to public notice years ago for her unflinching liberal views: an outspoken Roman Catholic nun whose pronouncements ran counter to the church’s positions on same-sex marriage and abortion.

    She became a fixture on Spanish television, appearing in her nun’s habit to advocate independence for her native region of Catalonia, and to debate other hot-button topics, including vaccines. She had trained as a doctor, partly in the United States and argued that vaccinations might one day pose a danger to a free society.

    Now a decade later, with the coronavirus having swept the world, she believes that day is here. She is warning against the use of coronavirus vaccines, even as scientists and elected leaders worry that anti-vaccine sentiment could threaten Europe’s recovery from the pandemic.

    “It’s always important that criticism is possible, to have dissenting voices,” she said of her views, which center as much on her doubts about the vaccines as her right to question them in public. “The answer cannot be that in the time of a crisis, society cannot allow the criticism — it’s precisely then that we need it.”

    killed more than three million people and ravaged global economies.

    In the world of vaccine skeptics, Sister Teresa, who was born in 1966 to a nurse and a commercial agent, is hard to categorize. She acknowledges that some vaccines are beneficial, but opposes making them mandatory. Her misgivings about coronavirus vaccines largely stem from her view that pharmaceutical companies are not to be trusted, and the clinical trials were rushed.

    She draws credibility from her nun’s habit and medical training, which has made her especially appealing to conspiracy theorists and far right groups that seek to undermine public confidence in vaccines by spreading half truths that are sometimes mixed with facts, nuanced and delivered by people with credentials that give their voice the imprimatur of authority.

    José M. Martín-Moreno, a professor of preventive medicine and public health in Spain who has been critical of Sister Teresa, said she cloaks her challenges to prevailing scientific wisdom under the guise of scientific debate and her right to criticize.

    blood clots in a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines has led some governments to pause or limit both shots — and to increased vaccine hesitancy.

    In the Spanish capital, Madrid, in the days after the government raised the age threshold for the AstraZeneca shot over concerns about its effectiveness, only a third of people showed up for their vaccine appointments, officials said. The country is at the start of what appears to be a fourth wave of infections.

    Despite her relative isolation in the convent, Sister Teresa’s message is increasingly reaching people across Spain.

    A 120,000-member group in Spain known for far-right conspiracies often spreads her controversial advice about coronavirus treatments on the Telegram messaging app. Another popular group that even denies the existence of the pandemic recently praised a Facebook video in which she questioned the safety of coronavirus vaccines.

    Sister Teresa, though staunchly leftist, doesn’t distance herself from right-wing followers, calling her distrust of some vaccines a “transversal question able to reach a wide spectrum of people.”

    patent dispute between African governments and drugmakers over AIDS medication.

    “I was in shock,” she said in the interview, because she had believed that pharmaceutical companies work for the good of humanity.

    a pandemic. Governments began discussing a mass vaccination campaign, and which corporations they might work with.

    Sister Teresa spoke out against those efforts in an online video that received 1.2 million views and was translated into eight languages before Vimeo, the video-streaming platform, removed the channel where it was posted.

    In the 55-minute broadcast, she appeared in nun’s habit and introduced herself as a physician. At first, she echoed established science, saying that the virus was less deadly than past flu outbreaks. Then she took a turn into conspiracy theory.

    mistakenly mixed two strains of flu in a laboratory, resulting in the deaths of test animals. Baxter, which later produced a swine flu vaccine, said that no one had been hurt, but experts said at the time that they were troubled by the mistake.

    But in her mind, a lab mistake became something more sinister and suspicious: Sister Teresa, in the video, alleged without evidence that Baxter might have been trying to manufacture new viruses with the aim of profiting from potential vaccines, especially if their use became mandatory.

    “How is it possible that they could force me to take a vaccine that I don’t want?” she said.

    secret contracts, at prices many times what they should be,” she said of companies producing the coronavirus vaccines.

    Dr. Martín-Moreno, who has worked with the World Health Organization, shares her concerns about the contracts. He said that some frustration about the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trials — whose results have been widely questioned for having used outdated information, among other issues — was merited.

    But he added that Sister Teresa has gone too far and that her fame had become dangerous.

    Sister Teresa argues that she poses no danger, and that her questions about vaccines, posed long before the pandemic, had simply come before their time.

    The thought sometimes frustrated her, she said in an email. “But then I remember Jesus and some of the saints I love and I feel in good company.”

    Leire Ariz Sarasketa contributed reporting from Madrid.

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    Janice McLaughlin, Nun Who Exposed Abuse in Africa, Dies at 79

    Sister Janice McLaughlin, an American nun who was imprisoned by the white minority government in war-torn Rhodesia for exposing atrocities against its Black citizens, then returned to help the new country of Zimbabwe establish an educational system, died on March 7 in the motherhouse of the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, near Ossining, N.Y. She was 79.

    Her religious order, of which she was president for a time, announced her death. It did not provide a cause.

    Sister McLaughlin spent nearly 40 years ministering in Africa. She lived much of that time in Zimbabwe, starting in 1977, when the country was still known as Rhodesia.

    She arrived in the midst of a seven-year struggle by Black nationalists to overthrow the white minority apartheid-style regime headed by Prime Minister Ian Smith, a fierce opponent of Black majority rule.

    Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, a group of laymen and clergy that opposed the government, Sister McLaughlin helped expose human rights abuses across the country. These included the systematic torture of Black people in rural areas and the shooting of innocent civilians, including clergy. She also wrote about the forced resettlement of nearly 600,000 Black citizens, who had been held in heavily guarded camps in overcrowded conditions lacking proper sanitation and food.

    Just three months after her arrival, she was charged with being a terrorist sympathizer and locked in solitary confinement for 18 days. She faced a penalty of seven years in prison, but the United States interceded, and she was instead deported.

    Her writings had been published in obscure journals, but her imprisonment drew widespread attention; the Vatican, the United Nations and the State Department spoke out on her behalf. On the day she was thrown out of the country and walked across the tarmac to the plane that would take her out of Rhodesia, a group of about 50 Black and white Rhodesians, many of them priests and nuns, gathered at the airport, cheered her on and sang the Black nationalist anthem, “God Bless Africa.”

    On the flight out, Sister McLaughlin told The New York Times that she was not a Marxist, as the Smith regime had alleged, but that she did support the guerrillas.

    “I think it’s come to the point where it’s impossible to bring about change without the war,” she said, “and I support change.”

    Robert Mugabe as the new president. Before he would plunge the once-wealthy nation into chaos, corruption and economic ruin, he asked for her help in rebuilding the educational system, and she readily agreed. Among other things, she established nine schools for former refugees and war veterans.

    When she died, she was eulogized by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor.

    “She chose,” he said in a statement, “to leave an otherwise quiet life of an American nun to join rough and dangerous camp life in the jungles of Mozambique, where she worked with refugees in our education department.”

    Her presence, he added, “helped give the liberation struggle an enhanced international voice and reach.”

    Janice McLaughlin was born on Feb. 13, 1942, in Pittsburgh to Paul and Mary (Schaub) McLaughlin and grew up there. She graduated from high school in 1960 and attended St. Mary of the Springs College in Columbus, Ohio, for a year, then entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in Maryknoll, N.Y., near the Hudson River village of Ossining, north of New York City.

    The order, founded in 1912, was the first American congregation of Catholic nuns dedicated to overseas missions.

    told The Times in 2013. “We try to live simply with the people. As Mother Mary Joseph said to us, ‘If anybody’s going to change, it’s going to be us.’”

    She worked in the Maryknoll Sisters communications office from 1964 to 1968 and organized a “war against poverty” program in Ossining. Moving to Milwaukee, she earned her bachelor’s degree in theology, anthropology and sociology from Marquette University in 1969.

    Then came her dream assignment — to work in Kenya, where she ran courses in journalism for church-sponsored programs. At the same time, she studied the anticolonial struggles going on across the continent.

    Much of her work in Rhodesia consisted of documenting massacres. When her office was raided by the government, two colleagues who had also been arrested were released on bail, but she was held as a dangerous communist subversive. “If I had Black skin,” she had written in her diary, “I would join ‘the boys,’” using the common term for the Black freedom fighters. She believed in the redistribution of wealth to redress past injustices.

    a recent remembrance by Robert Ellsberg, publisher of Orbis Books, an imprint of the Maryknoll Order.

    “I was suffering for a cause, and the pain and fear no longer mattered,” she added. “I was not alone. I was with the oppressed people, and God was there with us in our prison cells.”

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