Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Adventures from the Archives Part IV

Hello blog world!

Here is the latest segment of the adventures from the archives series. This week we have some absolutely fascinating pages written by Idi Amin himself! 

What: A letter addressed to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau from President of Uganda Idi Amin addressing the expulsion decree
Who: Prime Minister Trudeau and President / Major General Idi Amin
When: October 14th 1974 
Where: Hand delivered to PM. Trudeau in Paris
Why: This letter is in response to PM. Trudeau's initial letter which encouraged President Amin to reconsider the expulsion decree
So what: Provides a crucial historical evidence of the motivations of President Amin. Using his own words President Amin justifies the expulsion decree and makes it very clear that he will not reconsider the decree he had issued on August 4th 1972.

Here are a couple highlights from the letter that stuck out for me:
  1. "Since colonial days, the economy of Uganda especially in the field of commerce and trade, has been virtually in the hands of non-citizens." It is quite clear that even though many South Asians living in Uganda did possess Ugandan citizenship and had been living in Uganda for upwards of 2 generations, they were still NOT considered Ugandans by President Idi Amin and his government.
  2. President Amin also claims that individuals were "begged" to take out Ugandan citizenship but this ultimately did not provide a rich turnover in new Ugandan citizens. This statement has some truth to it. For starters, when the expulsion decree was announced at least half of the 80,000 Asians (this estimate has been contested and it is estimated that the real number is closer to 50,000) actually did possess other passports, mainly British or Indian. However, there were a considerable number, close to about 10,000, that only had Ugandan citizenship. Furthermore, the 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act made it more difficult to attain British citizenship for those residing in colonial states that had recently achieved independence. Another issue to consider is that some academics argue that Asian were caught between a rock and a hard place. Those who did not attain or apply for Ugandan citizenship during the 1962 independence were seen as colonial collaborators who favoured the British. On the other hand, those who did take out Ugandan citizenship were viewed as opportunists who sought to capitalize on Uganda's independence and reap the benefits of citizenship.
  3. "My government had therefore to decree appropriate measures to ensure that all non-citizens who were involved in the selfish exploitative practices which benefited external interests only and worked against the development of Uganda, were to remove themselves from the country within a period of ninety days from 9th August, 1972." Just the simple fact that a specific section of this passage was purposefully underlined by the President of Uganda reveals his deep conviction that South Asians were single handedly ruining the Ugandan economy. 
  4. "They are being allowed to take their personal belongings as well as reasonable amounts of cash with them, which have to be delimited by our financial resources." The reality is that Ugandan Asian were only allowed to leave the country with 1,000 shillings or roughly 143 Canadian dollars.
I hope you enjoyed this post and as always feel free to comment or e-mail me with any questions you have :)

1 comment:

  1. The letter was written DURING the expulsion deadline - in October 1972 underlined.


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