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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Idi Amin: Your thoughts
Former Ugandan leader Idi Amin lies in a coma in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

Up to 400,000 people are estimated to have died during his presidency from 1971-79, and a whole generation of Ugandan intellectuals were either killed or fled into exile.

Under Mr Amin, Asians who dominated business in Uganda were given 90 days to leave the country, and their property was confiscated as he embarked on a programme to Africanise the economy.

He was ousted by Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles in 1979 and since then he has been living in Libya and Saudi Arabia.

Did you experience life under Idi Amin? What are your memories? Send us your thoughts about the Ugandan leader.


Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Idi Amin is a classic and visible illustration of what is wrong with Africa. Some leaders emerge, give the impression that they are fighting for the masses, but they devastate the society, maim and kill human beings, float companies that impoverish the land and resources, and in the final analysis, they die like everybody else, leaving the wealth in foreign nations who don't need it, and thereby further set the people backward. They NEVER think of developing the utilities of the communities, or the educational and technological infrastructure. They just leave the people worse off in the end. May the Good Lord judge them according to their deeds.
Joseph U. Igietseme, USA

Under Amin's administration there was pride for Africans. He made African to gain some sort of respect to the western world. He was not charged with any crime, he was only forced out of the country. Since his reign there are killings and war still going on in Uganda. Let Amin come home and die, there is no place like home.
Oscar S.D. Blehsue, U.S.A

My formative years were spent under that regime. I was fortunate that my father was not killed but instead lived in exile and had to abandon house and an otherwise normal life to live incognito till April 1979. I even had to change my name which became a nuisance later. The memories are hard to capture in a few words. Currently, I have nothing to gain by hating Amin so I do not care if he is buried in Arua or Riyadh. Either way, it is a family affair at this stage, and the Ugandan government should not fund this at taxpayer expense. Some of us have already paid an enormous price.
Anne, USA

In October 1972 my family and I left Uganda on the instructions of Idi 'fatty' Amin
Sandeep Sirah, UK
In October 1972 my family and I left Uganda on the instructions of Idi 'fatty' Amin. The only member of my family to stay was my father, who was one of a handful of people who stayed behind and carried on working. Since 1972 I used to fly back to Uganda regularly to see my father and spend my holidays there, I remember in the 70's people were so scared of Idi Amin they would not even talk about him in private - in case through some miracle he would find out and cause unbelievable harm to you and your family. I recall he used to drive around Kampala sometimes WITHOUT a body guard(s). I could never understand why no one assassinated him while he was driving around like some 'head pimp' of a country. He is now at death's door and I for one believe he should not be allowed back in Uganda. Let his soul suffer after death - tormented by not being buried in his homeland.
Sandeep Sirah, UK

I have spoken to many people who's lives were affected by the rule of Amin. Surprisingly many of them are able to, if not forgive, at least accept what happened. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, however, Amin has continued to deny his involvement in the deaths of so many of his countrymen. He has never shown repentance, until he does can we really forgive?
Ned parker, UK

Idi Amin is cheating international justice by dying in Jeddah. His history of violence, murder and human rights abuse qualifies him for a good trial at the International Court of Justice. I wish his death could be postponed for him to answer those charges that have been laid against him. People like Idi Amin make the African continent to be ridiculed and disrespected. Death is not a befitting punishment for this stupid tyrant.
Joachim Arrey, Ossing, Cameroon

Amin you should go to the hottest part of hell and whilst there please book a nice spot for your commander in-chief Milton Obote for the two of you deserve to be there for all you have done to the innocent lives of Ugandans and foreigners alike. I never saw my grand father Eliazali Matovu Mpungu because he disappeared with many others when you invaded the Mengo palace in 1966. Your body should be taken back to Uganda and be tossed over the Karuma Bridge or left to rot away in Namanve forest just as you did to many of your victims.
R. Magembe, USA

He is one of the dictators the humankind will never forgive
Albert P'Rayan, Rwanda
He is one of the dictators the humankind will never forgive and forget. He doesn't deserve to be back to his homeland Uganda whose image he spoiled by his dictatorial rule.
Albert P'Rayan, Indian expat in Rwanda

Idi Amin was a great leader for the Ugandans. He stood against the exploitation of indigenous Ugandans by non natives who claimed to be Ugandans by virtue of birth on the land. I respect him for that stand. People forget to ask themselves the remote cause of his extreme measures, rather talk about what happened to them as people. Disguised racism, bigotry and economic exploitation are things that drove him to those levels. Poverty would always drive people to the extreme. He was driven to the extreme because of social injustice. Brother you answered a call of duty for your people.
Kofi Ajemo, Ghana

When he dies, all one can say is 'good riddance to bad rubbish'. The only good to come out of his reign was that we had many hard working Asians come over to Britain.
Gray, England

I lived in neighbouring Kenya from 1979-1984 and throughout that period Uganda's status as the 'poor relation' of East Africa was a clear testament to Idi Amin's twisted legacy. His attempts to 'Africanise' the economy are mirrored by Robert Mugabe's similar mission in Zimbabwe today, where the results appear equally disastrous on both economic and humanitarian level. How short are people's memories. Amin will not be mourned. The only sadness is that he has been allowed to live out the rest of his life unpunished - in the safety that he denied his own, betrayed countrymen.
Matt, UK

I am against the idea of prosecuting Amin. We should learn to forgive but not to forget
Sunday C. Olweny, UK/Uganda
Amin changed my life - for better or worse I don't know. My father was among the first lot to be killed being the Army Chief of Staff then (Brigadier Hussein Suleiman Ulobu) I was three years old. I am against the idea of prosecuting Amin. We should learn to forgive but not to forget. We should ask our selves who made Amin? How did he become a leader and one of the worst dictators? Uganda has moved on since 1972, there are new generation who were born in or after 1979 who should be taught what happened but not in the sense of prosecuting. Amin should be allowed to go Home and die where he was born without prosecution. If prosecution is carried out can you imagine the scenario? This is not to say he should get away with it or this is showing a bad example.
Sunday C. Olweny, UK/Uganda

Turn the machines off and let him die, it's what he would have wanted. Or at least what he would have done, had it been somebody else's life on the line.
Guy Chapman, UK

Some of the most successful and resourceful people I know are Ugandan Asians who came to the UK when Amin expelled them. Bizarrely, an unforeseen consequence of Amin's evil regime has been an enrichment of the UK.
John, England

No one in their right mind would argue the point that Mr Amin was a brutal dictator who terrorised his people and destabilised the region. Many people fail to realize that the coup that brought him to power was backed by the same western powers that eventually brought him down. I think that moral/legal responsibility for what was one of the most repressive dumbest regimes of its era should be held by Western powers who's foreign policy in Africa saw the emergence of a crop of self serving, corrupt, despotic leaders. African states are in part still trying to deal with the legacy of this flawed policy.
Tunde, UK

I think it's too late for justice now, let the man come back to Uganda, to go answer to his make for all the atrocities he believed to have committed to humanity, only death will tell. Justice will not do any one any good now his in coma.
Chris Ekwonye, Raleigh, N.C, USA

Why should we forgive Amin for all the killings and sufferings he inflicted
Ash, USA
Why? Why should we forgive Amin for all the killings and sufferings he inflicted on innocent Ugandans? If Musevini allowed this murderer to be buried in his country, is he not accepting him as a good man? We should send to all dictators and murderers a message "die and buried where you lived". Let us not forget these kinds of people were evading justice when alive.
Ash, USA

lf we really believe in God why shouldn't we forgive him? Remember Jesus Christ forgive on the cross, He said Father forgive for they don't know what they are doing.
Marcus Pratt, Sierra Leone.

I think it's too late to prosecute or forgive Idi Amin at this stage of his life because he's about to meet his maker with an explanation of his life. I think the Ugandan govt. should let him come back home to die with out any legal protocol because it will not do us any good any more since his now in coma.
Chukwudi Ajoku, Wake Forest, N.C, USA.

Please leave Amin alone. Under him we have never been under poverty they way we are now. Instead of receiving comments in your comfortable offices come down and see by your selves.
Golola, Uganda

While studying in England in the mid and late seventies, I met many Asians and Africans whose lives were devastated by the acts carried out by troops on Idi Amins' orders. However most of these exiles rebuild their lives and the new generation are well settled with very little recollection of what happened. Amin was given asylum in Saudi Arabia with strict conditions that he would not take part in Ugandan politics again, a condition which allowed some normality to return to Uganda. So lets not open old wounds again as it will do no good to anyone and we should just let Idi Amin disappear into history for the good of mankind.
Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE

As a third generation Ugandan Asian who had to leave during the 1972 exodus, I believe President Museveni can set a shining example for the rest of Africa by being magnanimous and compassionate in allowing President Amin to be buried in Uganda in the event that he does not recover from his comaHe would be following the example set by Amin when he accorded Uganda's first President, Sir Edward Mutesa a state funeral.

Like him or not, General Amin's presidency was recognised by all member countries of the United Nations. My father owned a restaurant and met General Amin before he became President. His soldiers ate lunch without paying, however, when General Amin came back for dinner, he paid for his dinner AND the lunches for his soldiers. Let bygones be bygones. Uganda needs to move forward.
Mahmud, USA

Amin killed my uncle, yet inside me I almost find no hate
Vahid Ajepuh Oloro, Uganda
I went to early school under Idi Amin and in 1976 my maternal uncle delivered examination papers to our school as one among the few Ugandans to have been blessed to own a car in our district. He disappeared after openly questioning mysterious disappearances of prominent people in the area. Idi Amin called it "economic war." Basic items such as sugar, salt, soap, etc turned out to be a luxury for many ordinary Ugandans. Everyone who hears our experience thinks it is more of fiction than reality.

Yes Amin killed my uncle, yet inside me I almost find no hate for the bully. All the regimes that have come after Amin have subjected the Ugandan people to horrifying experiences. Under Museveni I watched my family lose all its possessions to marauding government troops. I strongly feel Amin, given his advanced age, should be given pardon and let him spend his last days apprehensive of what an encounter he will have with his Creator. If we have to exercise vengeance then Uganda may never know peace.
Vahid Ajepuh Oloro, Uganda

lf we really believe in God why shouldn't we forgive him?
Calvin Jilala, Tanzania

Amin was a wicked ruler and nothing shows that he's changed. In order not to open up old wounds Amin should just stay and die in Saudi Arabia and be buried there. He should be forgotten. That's the price to pay.
Ayiyu Fontem, Cameroon

I had the honour to befriend Mr Amin's daughters
MK Aljarwan, Saudi Arabia & US
I had the honour to befriend Mr Amin's daughters. May I say that whatever atrocities occurred in the family past that I firmly believe he repented and is a changed man, that he was an excellent father, that I knew them as good Muslims - to his and his wives' credit and that many looked to him in awe. He is a man who commands respect - there's just no way around it. I do not say this because I am a family acquaintance. I say this because I know it is truth.

In the US I met a woman who lived in Uganda. It was very difficult to hear her tell of the horrible bloody death of her childhood playmate and his family. We can never change our past sins. This is not the man I knew. The man I knew was/is good. Let him and his family get through his illness. Causing more pain will not avenge anything now, just continue a monstrous cycle. We have enough of that occurring elsewhere in the world that we need to contend with. Mr Amin is in a coma - please, leave it to the hands of God. It is HE who is just and HE to whom we are ultimately answerable.
MK Aljarwan, Saudi Arabia & US

Can I just challenge this notion that Idi Amin is a "good Muslim" - obviously a person's individual state is known only to Allah but this man killed and tortured thousands of people for which he will be answerable to God -how is he then a Good Muslim? It's not even as if he is some kind of perverse defender of Uganda's Muslims - he expelled Asians from the country a large proportion of whom were Muslims. Idi Amin is a good Muslim as Milosevic is a good Christian. May God forgive him
Akbar Ali, London, UK

Amin a good man?? No disrespect Mr MK from Saudi, you call Amin 'a decent Muslim'?? Are you serious?? What this evil did to his people is not even comprehensible, even Mobuto of Zaire will be appalled by his acts!!!
Ojukwu, Nigeria

Lack of criticism is not surprising really
Dave Hall, London, UK
Saudi Arabia - the country that gave sanctuary to a mass murderer because he was a good Muslim. The US and UK said nothing about it because Saudi Arabia is a good customer of ours, especially for weapons systems. Lack of criticism is not surprising really as we are the principal exponents of the double standard on this planet.
Dave Hall, London, UK

He was a nasty dictator and murderer - an evil man. But, why was he not pursued for his crimes against humanity? Why was he left to live out his life in comfort and peace, when he deserved to be behind bars? Surely this was negligence by amnesty and the various international courts, and an insult to those who suffered by his wilful actions?
Joe Mandedvu, Australia

I want to comment on the world leaders who could have done something, but never did any thing during his reign and even did business with this demon. These kinds of leaders are still well and alive today and these hypocritical world leaders who still turn a blind eye on the unbelievable crimes because they have some sort of relationship, which is connected with pure selfishness is still alive.
David Kassa, Ethiopia

Who were they favouring by keeping him?
Jijesh, India/US/Oman
If each individual understands his responsibility, it would be great, but sadly this can only be wishful thinking. Why were the Saudis keeping him for so long? Who were they favouring by keeping him? Whatever your faith is? I hope this dictator and others like him should get the hardest punishment.
Jijesh, India/US/Oman

May he meet his maker. If Idi Amin has reconciled himself to his past then he may meet his maker in peace. He caused fates comparable with the Nazis' treatment of the Jews. He is unfortunately one of many African leaders, past and present, who severely oppress their fellow man. Please arise a young African leader who can begin to seek the path to a realistic freedom from oppression for this continent.
Francis, Zimbabwe

Meet his maker? No, he should face the thousands of helpless Ugandans he slaughtered in the 70s! It is amazing how a human catastrophe like Idi Amin has been protected in Saudi Arabia despite his crimes against humanity. Could the UN International Criminal Court indict him before he dies, for the record? He will rank in infamy with his ilk like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Hutu leaders in Rwanda etc.
Ed Edet, NIgeria/USA

He kept his word, whether good or bad
Jaffer Ali Gonja, Uganda
I have mixed thoughts about Idi Amin. He kept his word, whether good or bad. He eroded all the democratic values and ruled by command. He created a state of fear with his dreaded "state research bureau". So many intellectuals, businesspeople, students etc disappeared never to be heard of. I remember one politician from my village, who up to now is not accounted for, and shortages of consumer goods after expelling Asians in 1972. He rewarded friends, Muslims, foreigners who liked him.

One good thing he imbued in Ugandans is to be proud of their heritage and to strive for excellence. He encouraged the spirit of self-reliance, innovation, creativity in fixing cars that lacked spare parts. Wherever you go and introduce yourself as a Ugandan, Idi Amin pops up. My final word is that Museveni should bring back Idi Amin to be buried at his ancestral home. You can't prosecute a dead body.
Jaffer Ali Gonja, Uganda

Leave it to the BBC to refer to Idi Amin with the deferential title "Ugandan leader." In my mind Idi Amin is the epitome of an African dictator who ruled with fear. Who can forget the role he played by allowing hijackers to act out their terror in Entebee? What's sad is that not much has changed on the African continent in 30 years.
John B, US




SEE ALSO:
Trial warning for Idi Amin
22 Jul 03  |  Africa
Ugandan media ponder Idi Amin
12 Apr 02  |  Africa
Uganda remembers Idi Amin's fall
11 Apr 02  |  Africa
30 years in Britain
29 Oct 02  |  Hardtalk
Amin's son runs for mayor
03 Jan 02  |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
27 May 03  |  Country profiles


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