Saturday, 29 August 2020

Amin's Government By Terror


Amin kept thorough surveillance on Ugandans through five repressive organs that were either ccreated in Obote's period and then recreated and given new names by Amin himself, or founded after January 1971. Amin replaced the General Service Unit with a similar intelligence organ called the Bureau of State Research.  Located at Nakasero near what had been Obote's official Kampala residence, the bureau used the same house, headquarters, and surveilance equipment as those used by the deposed president.  Amin also established the Public Safety Unit in 1972  ostensibly to curb Kondo-robbery with violence- but in reality to give security personnel an opportunity to arrest enemies of the regime.  Its headquarters were at Naguru Police Training School.  The Military Police, created under Obote, was expanded.  Makindye, its headquarters, became notorious as a slaughterhouse in Amin's time.  As the economy worsened, another paramilitary unit, the Antismuggling Bureau, was created under Bob Astles.  It accused successful businessmen of smuggling and hoarding. 

These repressive agencies helped Amin gather intelligence on his enemies and survive in office.  Although their methods were crude, they succeeded by not taking chances: any suspect was instantly presumed guilty and eliminated.  Between January and August 1972, for example, in a wave of intensified political violence, political prisoners who had been locked behjind bars because of their presumed opposition to the Amin regime were all killed.  Most were members of the police, the GSU, and the Civil Service who had served Obote with loyalty,  including the bracss of the Police Central Intelligence Department, which had investigated Amin's part in the murder of Brigadier Okoya.  The victims included Mohammed Hassan.  the chief of CID. Festus Wawuyo, his deputy, and Ocungi, another deputy in the CID. Twenty Acholi/ Langi Military bandsmen who had been arrested and put under the care of Major Hussein Marella in December 1971 were also killed in this period,  reportedly on Amin's orders.  Hundreds of innocent people were trapped in a vicious circle of violence.  All the members of these paramilitary units used violence for their own selfish motives:  the demarcation line between offically sponsored and private violence was very thin.

Thousands of people in Uganda were tortured by government agents.  Detainees might be made to go through humiliating muscular ordeals such as "hopping like a frog" while being beaten.  The victim's eyes might be gouged out and left hanging out of their sockets.  During the "wheel torture," the victim's head was put in a wheel-rim that was repeatedly struck with iron bars.  People were beated with hammers, mallets, or iron bars to break their limbs as well as kill them.  Wires were attached to the victim's genitals, nipples, or other sensitive parts of the body and then connected to an electric battery or wall socket.  Women were raped or otherwise sexually abused.  Prisoners were slashed with knives and bayonets, body organs were mutilated and limbs cut off.  Prisoners might be lined up and every second one would be ordered to hammer the first to death,  the second one would be ordered to hammer the first to death, the second would be hyammered by the thrid, and so on, until only one was left to tell the tale to other prisoners.  Such incidents often happened at Makindye prison.  There were by no means the only forms of torture; theyere were many others.

Important or prominent people were killed like other prisoners.  However, their bodies were dismembered and parts used for ritual purposes.  For example, the head of Brigadier Suleiman Husein, who was killed at Makindye, was cut off and taken to Amin, who is reported to have addressed it and kept it in a fridge.  The penis of Colonel Mesesura Arach, commander of the First Infrantry, was severed and plugged into his mouth.  Few victims were given a proper burial.  Their bodies were thrown into rivers (such as the Nile at karuma, Jinja and other places), Kioga, Wamala, etc.), in mass graves,or burnt in their houses or cars.  Michael Kagwa's body was left in his burnt car as was the body of Father Clement Kiggundu, editor of Munno, a daily.

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