He didn't view them as human and they were treated very cruely in the process. He did indeed want to hurt people, because he saw them as barely above animals to work on rubber plantations. I don't blame modern Belgians... but don't sugar coat a monster.
I'm not sugar coating a monster. I'm stating why this person, with his cold heart and thirst for importance and wealth would not have been perceived the same if you replace the Congo with a smaller area that was poorer and didn't have the natural rubber reserves. People are very much shaped by their surroundings. Likewise, take two things away from Leopold, his visit to the construction on the Suez Canal, where he first saw what a large quantity of laborers could achieve and the book "Money", about the Cultuurstelsel in Java, from which he derived his forced labour idea, you'd have a very different Leopold II. Likewise if Hitler had never gone to the circles in Vienna where he picked up antisemitism and had he been an accomplished artist, he would have had local and moderate fame as a painter, but not world fame as a mass murderer.
This is not sugarcoating, it's an exercise in agency.
Not really, Leopold wasn't tyrannical because he wanted to hurt people, but because he wanted to make as much profit from the Congolese rubber as he could. Take all that away and he would have pulled out very quickly, selling the land to France, probably. The people who lived under his rule would have noticed some degree of alien infrastructure, but not too much. Leopold's Free State was never a strong or well developed government.