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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
A time to forgive?
Idi Amin
The wounds of Amin's rule remain fresh in Uganda
For the past two weeks, there has been a great deal of public debate over the fate of ailing former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, exiled in Saudi Arabia.

Many people who suffered under Mr Amin's eight-year rule want to see him tried for crimes against humanity.

But there are those who feel the former dictator should be forgiven and allowed back home to die peacefully.

Next Wednesday on the BBC World Service programme Africa Live! we ask should old dictators be allowed to rest in peace?

Have you personally had to forgive a relative, friend or neighbour for wronging you?

In Kenya, an elected Member of Parliament has owned up to bankrolling a terror gang that has been intimidating people. The MP is now begging for forgiveness.

Do you think there are some acts beyond forgiveness? And is forgiveness the only way forward?

Join the debate Wednesday, 30 July at 1630 and 1830 GMT.

Use the form to send us your comments, some of which will be published below.

If you would like to take part in the discussion, e-mail us with your telephone number, which will not be published.

Your comments:

At this time when many of our despotic African leaders are claiming Godly status it is no time for forgiveness without justice. When will we establish genuine accountable systems in Africa if we keep forgiving horrendous crimes?
Peter Bonjie Ngabesong, Cameroone/Belgium

It would be a slap in the face for those of us who lived through Amin's brutal rule and lost loved ones to his madness to offer him dignities that he never afforded his victims. Our leaders should never be above the law.
Elizabeth Mwambu, USA

Though difficult, forgiveness is the only way to move forward. We can not continue wallowing in bitterness.
Jane Mugambi, Kenya/USA

That murderer should be brought to justice and executed. Then he can be forgiven.
Stacey, Usa

We've had plenty of Amin's since then: Abache, Mugabe, and the latest Taylor. We need to give punishments that serve as a deterance to others. That's why I support the death penalty.
Lester, Liberia/USA

Forgive? How about justice! We need accountability even if it is years later. Dying or not, even former KKK members are being dragged to jail in the US so why are we so forgiving. It is never too late for justice.
Sheila Mwangoma, Kenyan in Philadelphia

There should be a law in Africa if you become a dictator, you forfeit the right to be treated as a human. I am stilled irked by the forgiveness extended to Moi, Mugabe and the likes.
Njenga Edward, Kenya

Only a fool can forgive and forget. People take you for granted when you hold nothing against them.
Jude Ifeme, Nigeria

Forgiving and letting someone go scot-free for their crimes are two separate issues. Too many countries place the petty thief in jail, elect the big crook to power and forgive the ruthless dictator for his brutality.
M.Schaeffer, USA

The only ones qualified to forgive Mr Amin are dead. Killed by him
Carlos, Ireland

How many heroes of history were as awful as Idi Amin? King Shaka of the Zulus might be one, yet today in South Africa a new airport is to be built, named after him. I trust no future leader of Uganda will name Entebbe Airport after Idi Amin, given that he immortalised that piece of infrastructure with the Israeli hijacking!
Guy, SA

The way forward is to encourage wrongdoers to confess and apologize publicly. This will minimize bitterness and hopefully break the potential cycle of revenge and counter-revenge. Otherwise, no confession no forgiveness!
WSK Wasike, Kenya/Denmark

Any body who has the heart to learn must look at South Africa post-Apartheid.
T. H., Ethiopia

The Libyan and Saudi authorities showed mercy to Amin with a pension and somewhere to hide. Why bother with further mercy?
Doug Wright, United Kingdom

This has nothing to do with forgiveness and all to do with justice. How do we tell future generations about the wrong of evil doing?
Bemi Godwins, U.K

Idi Amin is as mortal as we are. 'To err is human and to forgive divine.'
Francis Kassah, Ghana

A time to forgive? Is that the best question you can come up with? Here is a suggestion: A time to apologize?
Ed, Ghana

Idi Amin should be allowed to return home to Uganda from exile. I am sure if he does, he will confess and renounce his wicked ways before he dies. That is a great healing for the people of Uganda. I know it is not that easy especially for those who suffered under his cruel hands.
Victor Chambers, Sierra Leone

There is no act beyond forgiveness.
Philemon Fawoh, Cameroon

All people or dictators who have done wrong must be brought to justice. It is not good for a person to do wrong and then ask to be forgiven.
Nicholas Ziqubu, South Africa

If we do not forgive, all those courts or inquiry teams will cost us alot. NB: I would urge President Kibaki to forgive Mr Moi for his former misdeeds and go ahead and prove him wrong by developing our beloved country.
Issak Kullow, Kenya

Would you forgive Adolf Hitler had he lived to be an old man in exile?
Charles Senuta, u.s.a.

I personally think victims of violence, domestic, criminal or political, should learn to forgive those who hurt them. I believe this is the only way a victim may have peace of mind. Somehow, revenge never cures the hurt or feeling of loss. I have personally forgiven an ex-brother-in-law for his involvement in the shooting of my younger brother and stepfather in 1990. However,on a grander scale, for example in the Liberian crisis I would be unwilling to encourage a culture of impunity. There should be some form of punishment for the top hierarchy of criminal organisations of whatever sort that bring havoc to entire populations. For the likes of Idi Amin, I think permanent exile, or death in exile, is a punishment justly deserved. This is more a matter of justice than revenge.
Nim'ne E. Mombo, Liberian in USA

Should justice be tampered with mercy? Yes. Should mercy take the place of justice? No.
Tony Izuogu, Ghana (Nigerian)

Forgiveness is irrelevant in situations where offenders are without a conscience or indeed psychopaths! Idi Amin should not be permitted to return to Uganda. This would show grave disrespect to Ugandans.
Valerie Sayah, Ottawa, Canada

Where Amin should be buried is irrelevant. This is the time to highlight his crimes against humanity in the hope that history does not repeat itself.
Amanuel, Ethiopia

Far too many suffered under Amin. It is about time we see him pay for it.
Ndiaye, London

I think that it is UNTHINKABLE to let a dictator die in peace.
Jun Plas, Netherlands

Bad leaders abound in Africa and they never seem to learn from the experiencies of those who misruled. But religion and morality demand we forgive those who did wrong to us. Revenge is for God.
Chinedu Ibeabuchi, Nigeria

Please forgive the past and think about the future.
Molikini, Chad

Die in peace - I think not.
Catherine M, Kenya/USA

Let the Kamuzu Bandas and Idi Amins serve as lessons, so we do not repeat past mistakes. When in Rome do as the Romans. Let them face the law.
Reuben Gitahi, Nairobi

Violent leaders must not be punished at death for woes committed during there reigns.They must be given a befitting funeral. It is left to God to judge them. Even in the case of Foday Sankoh who just died, let him be honoured at his funeral.
Emile Kelly

If we all took our pound of flesh that was owed to us, this world would be skinned alive. So what do we do? We start with the leaders taking account of their actions. With great leadership comes great responsibility.
A. Booyse, UK

Amin should never be allowed back "home" to die peacefully. The people he murdered did not die peacefully.
Gita Chandarana, London UK

Genuine forgiveness usually starts with an admission of guilt. Forgiving Idi Amin now is not the right thing to do.
Joachim Arrey Ossing, Cameroon

Our leaders have an absolute task and a question to answer on behalf of we the poor civil societies on the African continent. Dictators do not qualify for forgiveness.
Raphson Day Amentor, Guinea - Conakry

In 1972 I and my then husband left Uganda for a visit to England and we heard that our house, possessions and the cinema circuit we ran through Uganda Hotels, a government body, had all been confiscated and to return would mean immediate arrest. We lost our home, possessions and animals. We had been married only 2 years at the time. All our wedding gifts were lost. We had about 100 UK pounds to start a new life. NO, no forgiveness. My life would be far different had it not been for Idi Amin. The Asians expelled, some of them 4th generation, suffered more.
Jenny Pearce, Australia

A country deserves its leaders. The older generation in Uganda allowed the Amin dictatorship to continue for as long as it did. I believe that they will not forgive Amin until they forgive themselves for allowing him to terrorise the country. As for us the younger generation that constitute over 70% of the population, we don't really understand what the fuss is all about. The same people who welcomed the tyrant with open arms in the early 70s should be able to forgive their dying 'hero' and allow him back home.
Rachel, Uganda

The whole world should try to learn how to really forgive, that is the only way forward.
Angel Ogey Akonu, Anambra State-Nigeria.

If that evil man reaches Uganda alive he will see the people he ruled for eight years and regret doings. Maybe he will then ask for forgiveness.
Alfred T.R. Nyorbay, Eritrea

Dictators make Africans live in a continent that is like sulphur-hot hell. They must not be left to go Scot free.
Ronald Adubango, Uganda.

How can we forgive these brutal dictators who made their enemies know no peace. They should face trials to deter other wicked ones ruling now.
Mass Abdoulaye, Benin republic

Just because Amin is elderly and ailing, why should he be allowed a peaceful death in his homeland? The very least he should do is publicly apologise for the horrendous torture, killings & destruction. Otherwise he will continue to wallow in his considerable luxury in Jeddah - he is not alone here nor without family.
Elizabeth Frost, Saudi Arabia

At the same time we may forgive but not forget.
Kadi, Gambia

To talk of forgiving men like Amin and Mugabe only encourages their successors. What message does it send to allow mass-murderers to walk freely? If these were not 'leaders,' this question would never be asked. Laws should be universally applied, or they have no meaning at all.
Joey Thompson, USA

Souith Africa post-apartheid has forgiven, why not Alhaji Edi Amin.
Geedi, UK

I love the example of South Africa.
David Tonghou, Cameroon-USA

Forgive? Give me a break, he is lucky to have lived in peace all these years enjoying Uganda's resources he stole.
Gbellu Luckay, Sierra leone/USA

If we forgive Idi Amin, then what is the message being sent out to current African leaders? "Do what ever you please!"?
Tinos Yohannes, Ethiopia

Only Africans. Only Africans would even consider forgiving a man like Idi Amin.
Sapanga, USA

A criminal like Idi Amin or any similar dictator in the end has to pay. It is good for the health of the world.
Vicente Fried, Chile

Idi Amin's body should be allowed to be buried in Uganda.
Hassan Timbo, Freetown-Sierra Leone.

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Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.

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