Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Amin: Disregard for Human Rights


Human rights as articulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were completely disregarded and violated in Uganda during Amin's tenure.....   The right to freedom of opinion and association was violated. Political parties, student organizations, trade unions, and all popular associations were prohibited.  Although the major religious sects (Roman Catholicism, Islam and Protestantism) were allowed to operate, minor religiuous sects were banned.  The right to freedom of movement was violated.  All Ugandans travelling out of the country required permits, even though many were in possession of passports.  Government agents could search private houses without warrant.  As a rule, they helped themselves to private property in the houses they searched.

Like all dictators, Amin was scared of writers.  Byron Kawadwa, who wrote a play that Amin thought ridiculed the person of the president, was killed without trial, as was Father Clement Kiggundu, editor of Munno, the oldest newpaper in Uganda, Kiggundu had publicized the anguish of women whose husbands had been killed.  There was no freedom of the press.  The government controlled the dissemination of information, and all newspapers were required to toe the government line.  Foreign newspatpers were banned.  In 1975 a prominent lawyer, Elizofani Mawagi, was detained and killed for writing a letter published in a newspaper requesting that Ugandans be permitted to read foreign newspapers.  Letters were opened in the postal system and read by members of the State Research Bureau, thus limiting detailed written communication.


The picture below was shot by Reimar Oltmanns.
German journalist and author. He was 1970-1972 Spokesman of the Lower Saxony Minister of Education Peter von Oertzen.


Public perceptions that the government was either a party to various acts of violence or had knowledge of them were reinforced by official indifference in cases involving violence meted out to civilians by the security forces.  Amin told his soldiers that the gun was their bread winner, their mother, their father, their great protector.  Many who heard his speech thought he was giving licence to the security forces to get whatever they   wanted from civilians by violence.

An inquiry in July 1971 by Justice Jeffrey Jones into the murder of two Americans.  nicholas Stroh and Robert Siedle in Mbarara Barracks implicated three army officers, Captain Taban, Captain Juma Sabuni and Major Sabuni Ali, but the officers were not punished.  Indeed, the latter two were subsequently promoted to ministerial posts.  The Ugandan government did not publicly accept the responsibility but paid compensation to the relatives of the dead.  An inquiry into the fatal shooting on 6 march 1976 of a Makerere University student, Paul Serwanga, by a member of the Public Safety Unit was interfered with.  The Chariman of the inquiry, Professor Brian Langlands, was expelled from the country although he had worked in Uganda for over twenty years.  A new compliant chairman was selected and reported on 12 November 1976 that if university rules had been followed, no shooting would have taken place.  The gunman who killed Paul Lwanga was not punished.  When on 16th February 1977 Archbishop Janani Luwum and two cabinet ministers were reportedly killed in a car accident, contradictions in the official reports exposed government complicity in the deaths and the public believed that the three had been murdered by government agents.

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