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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Exiles react to Amin's death
Ugandan Asians arriving in the UK
Amin expelled Uganda's Asian population in 1972
Ugandan Asians in Britain have given a muted reaction to the death of former dictator Idi Amin.

Up to 50,000 Indians and Pakistanis came to Britain after being expelled from Uganda in 1972.

Amin's death was confirmed on Saturday by hospital officials in Saudi Arabia, where he lived in exile.

Human rights groups say up to 400,000 people were killed under the rule of the former British Army lieutenant.

Manzoor Moghul, vice-chairman of the Ugandan Evacuees Association in Leicester, was one of tens of thousands of Asians who settled in Britain after being expelled.

He told BBC News 24: "Ugandan Asians have no reason to grieve at his death but at the same time have no reason to celebrate or be jubilant.

"He was a brutal dictator yet a very remarkable man."

He punished Britain by expelling the whole lot of Asians and dumping them on Britain
Manzoor Moghul
Ugandan Evacuees Association
Mr Moghul said the move had dramatically uprooted many people who had built a livelihood in Uganda.

But the expulsion had benefited many Asians in the long-term because they had settled so well in Britain and left persecution behind, he said.

"Ironically, many considered him to be a benefactor of the Ugandan Asian community."

In 1972, Amin announced the expulsion of Asians and the confiscation of their businesses, blaming them for controlling the economy.

'Politically astute'

Mr Moghul, who said Amin had personally apologised for his action when they met in 1986, said the move had been in retaliation for Britain's attitude to its former colony.

He added: "He punished Britain by expelling the whole lot of Asians and dumping them on Britain."

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a Ugandan Asian journalist who lives in Britain, told BBC News: "When he expelled Asians, it was politically one of the most astute moves he could have made.

"At the time, Asians were despised in many ways because it was quite rightly felt we were not sharing our economic skills and good fortune."

Dr John Sentamu, Bishop of Birmingham, said he had been beaten up under Amin's orders while a judge in Uganda, receiving near fatal injuries.

Idi Amin in 1973
Amin was initially admired by British authorities
He said: "One of the cases I tried involved Amin's cousin, who was accused of the torture and rape of a woman.

"Amin had told me that I must find the defendant not guilty.

"I tried the case and sentenced his cousin to five years imprisonment."

The bishop said he was then arrested and beaten by Amin's henchmen, causing internal bleeding which became life threatening.

He said Amin should have been extradited to Uganda, not for punishment but for restorative justice, "whereby his victims and the country would have been empowered to move on in a truly humane way".

Former Church of England envoy Terry Waite, who spent time in Uganda when Amin was in power, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the former dictator should have been put on trial.

"There are many people like that who somehow escape, and he was one of those. But I do blame him for the tremendous downfall in the fortunes of Uganda."

'Splendid type'

Mr Waite said the British authorities initially took a naive view of Amin because he had served in the British Army.

The Foreign Office once described Amin as "a splendid type and a good (rugby) player".

Amin was forced from power in Uganda in 1979 by Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles.

He fled to Libya, then Iraq, before finally settling in Saudi Arabia, where he was allowed to remain provided he stayed out of politics.

He had been in a coma at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah since 18 July.

Hospital staff said Amin, who was variously described as 78 or 80 years old, had been suffering from kidney failure.

The BBC's Barnie Choudhury
"Thirty years on many [Ugandan Asians] are still waiting to get back their homes and businesses"

Dictator Idi Amin dies
16 Aug 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
13 Aug 03  |  Country profiles


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