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Benedicto Kiwanuka

Fate of Dissenters under Amin’s Rule

All those individuals within the nation who voiced their opposition to this, including the Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, were met with a severe consequence. In the process of Uganda’s transition to independence, Kiwanuka was a significant figure from the beginning. Following the granting of the right of self-governance to the country and prior to the elections that had brought Obote to power, he had briefly served as a technocratic Prime Minister of Uganda in the early 1960s. This event occurred after the elections that had brought Obote to power. It was in 1969 when Obote’s government had imprisoned him, but Amin, when he took power in 1971, freed him from prison. When he first attempted to cooperate with the new government, he was appointed to the position of chief justice of the country. Nevertheless, in September of 1972, he was arrested for his criticism of Amin regarding the way in which the Asian community was treated, in addition to other issues. Makindye Military Prison was the location where Amin’s forces carried out the execution of the individual on September 22nd. The manner in which he was put to death is illustrative of Amin’s terrible nature. The ears, nose, and lips of Kiwanuka were severed before he was castrated, disembowelled, and set ablaze. Furthermore, he was burned. A further very significant aspect of the expulsion of the Asian community in 1972 was seen in the months and years that followed with the collapse of the economy of Uganda. This was a consequence of the expulsion as well. There were approximately 50,000 to 60,000 Asian-Ugandans who had been expelled from the country. These individuals had control over a significant portion of the country’s commercial and industrial sectors. Amin’s followers within the military were now in possession of these businesses once they were handed over.

Economic Fallout from Asian Expulsion

These were typically people who were not familiar with how to run the businesses that they were given, and they frequently lacked the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills that are required to engage in commercial transactions. The agricultural machinery that was utilised for crop production eventually broke down and could not be repaired or maintained. In the past, cotton gins that became jammed or stopped functioning were never used again. The collapse of cement factories in Tororo and Fort Portal was perhaps the most ironic indication of the complete mismanagement of the economy. These factories were located in the same region. In the middle of the 1970s, the Ugandan economy went into a tailspin as a direct consequence of this. There was a subsequent increase in prices as a result of shortages of all kinds of goods that these companies had either produced or imported, and these shortages took place. Amin’s rule brought about a steady increase in inflation, and by 1975 and 1976, the economy of Uganda was on the verge of collapsing out of existence.

Amin’s International Relations and Diplomatic Tensions

During the years that followed the expulsion of Uganda’s Asian community, Amin engaged in a posture that became increasingly confrontational on the international stage. Amin was successful in alienating London by expelling fourteen members of the British High Commission, who had been installed in Kampala as a kind of post-colonial oversight committee following the granting of independence in 1962. By the end of 1972, the majority of British citizens had already left the country. Amin’s actions were successful in alienating London. There was also a very peculiar situation in which planes were regularly flying out of Stansted Airport in London carrying cargoes of luxury European goods for Amin and other senior members of his regime. This was in spite of the fact that western countries were increasing the sanctions they were imposing against Amin’s regime. Despite the fact that Amin and his followers were supposed to be subject to trade sanctions, the so-called “Whisky Run” was able to operate without any restrictions. And all of this was taking place at the same time that Amin was increasingly seeking assistance from Libya and the Soviet Union. At the same time, he was also condemning the continued support of the west for the apartheid regime in South Africa, as well as condemning Israel, his other former ally, as a result of its participation in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. It was in 1975 when Amin’s regime hosted the summit of the Organisation of African Unity in Kampala, with Amin serving as the summit’s chairman. This diplomatic rift with the west reached its climax at that time. The British foreign secretary, James Callaghan, had come to the summit specifically to intercede with Amin concerning the release of the British author, Denis Hills, who had referred to Amin as a “village tyrant” in a recent book called The White Pumpkin. Here, he effectively press-ganged several Britons into carrying him into a reception at the summit, while at the same time he publicly embarrassed Callaghan. After leaving, Callaghan was under the impression that there was no longer any possibility of Amin cooperating with him. However, Hills, who had been sentenced to death prior to Callaghan’s intervention, was spared by the Ugandan government. In the meantime, Amin continued to strengthen his ties to the Soviet Union throughout the entire process. By the time 1975 came to a close, the regime had been provided with tens of millions of dollars in economic aid and military assistance from Moscow. In addition, Amin had sent several thousand Ugandan troops to Eastern Europe in order to receive training in modern military techniques. Along the same lines, the Soviet government was interested in courting Amin as a means of geographically offsetting the perceived involvement of China in Tanzania and the influence of the British in Kenya. In addition, it was during the middle of the 1970s that Amin established a connection with a paramilitary organisation in Scotland. This organisation has been the subject of books and even a movie in recent years. During this time period, the Scottish National Liberation Army, a fringe paramilitary group in Scotland that had begun a low-level terrorist campaign in their home country, which included the posting of letter bombs, reached out to Amin. It was evident that they had heard of Amin’s fondness for the country. Amin expressed some sympathy for their aspiration to achieve independence from Britain. He even made a proposal to become King of Scotland in the event that they required his assistance in fulfilling the role. This would make him the first ruler of Scotland to be independent of Britain in nearly four hundred years. This bizarre suggestion, while an interesting indicator of Amin’s increasingly unhinged state of mind, was merely a footnote to his tenure as the dictator of Uganda, despite the fact that it became famous as a result of a book and film starring Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy subsequent to its initial obscurity.

Internal Oppression and Ethnic Favoritism

During the middle of the 1970s, all of these events were taking place on the international stage, but the regime continued its methods of brutality within the country. At the same time that Amin and his followers were openly favouring certain religious and ethnic groups within Uganda, they were also persecuting other groups. The Kakwas and Nubis, who were the dictator’s own ethnic groups, were given preference in the northern regions. Additionally, the Bagandans, who were the predominant ethnic group in the southern regions near Lake Victoria and around Kampala, were courted. In a similar manner, the small Muslim minority was given a great deal of preference because they practised the same religion as Amin. As an illustration, by the second half of the 1970s, Muslims held more than eighty percent of the top positions within the government and the military, despite the fact that they only made up about six percent of the total population. On the other hand, the state continued to effectively persecute a number of other religious and ethnic groups, the Acholi and Langi of the north-eastern and eastern regions of the country being the most prominent examples. Tens of thousands of people belonging to these categories continued to be murdered, demoted, assaulted, imprisoned, or evicted from their homes and lands throughout the middle of the 1970s. Amin continued to expand the already sizable Ugandan army, effectively turning it into a military aristocracy comprised of his supporters who ruled the country. This was done in order to achieve this level of oppression. Amin was able to carry out this oppression with the assistance of the State Research Bureau, which was a covert police organisation that had been established not long after he had taken power. However, the majority of its work is attributed to Robert or Bob Astles beginning in the middle of the 1970s and continuing onward. A British soldier and official who had served in the Second World War and then entered service in Africa, Astles was a legacy from the colonial era. He had fought in the war and then worked in Africa. In the end, he found himself in Uganda in 1949, and after remaining there for the subsequent thirteen years, he made the decision to stay here after the country gained its independence and began working for Obote’s government. In spite of the fact that he was detained for a short period of time after Amin’s coup d’état in 1971, he eventually managed to win the favour of the dictator and was given the position of head of the State Research Bureau in the middle of the 1970s. During the tenure of Astles, the Bureau was made responsible for the disappearance of thousands of individuals who were suspected of committing a variety of crimes. Additionally, the Bureau was charged with uncovering plots against Amin and the regime. Over the course of these years, it was not unusual to see people being coerced into the trunks of cars and driven away from the streets of Kampala and other cities in Uganda. Unfortunately, many of these individuals were never seen again after being taken away. It would appear that Amin placed his faith in Astles, despite the fact that he was becoming increasingly deranged and paranoid in the middle of the 1970s. Astles was one of the few people whom Amin knew was not attempting to overthrow him.

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