You don’t get a nickname like the Butcher of Uganda without unleashing some serious horrors on mankind, and the atrocities committed by Idi Amin were undeniably horrific. Idi Amin seized power in Uganda in 1971 and viciously ruled for eight years. The list of crimes committed by Idi Amin includes ethnic persecution, political repression, extrajudicial executions, and torture.
Many political rivals suffered his wrath, but some of the worst things done by Idi Amin were done to his own people. He launched an economic war, and citizens of Uganda were exiled or imprisoned, beaten, and tortured without cause. There is no way to know for sure how many people he killed, but it is believed to be around half a million. He was finally ousted by Ugandan nationalists in 1979, and he managed to flee the country intact. He remained in exile, living in Saudi Arabia, where he died from multiple organ failures in 2003.
He Claimed To Be A Cannibal
Amin was rumored to have kept some of his victim's heads in his refrigerator and eaten human body parts. His former Health Minister, Henry Kyemba, said that "on several occasions [Amin] told me quite proudly that he had eaten the organs or flesh of his human victims."
Apparently he wasn’t all that into it, though. He was quoted saying, “It's not for me. I tried human flesh and it's too salty for my taste" (though it's unclear if he was speaking ironically at the time).
He Built An Underground Prison With A Torture Chamber And An Electrified Moat
Amin’s infamous prison and torture chamber was constructed by Israelis in the 1970s by a crew that believed the building was going to be used as an armory. The underground cement caves were intended to store gunpowder, not people.
Amin’s victims would be blindfolded, then further disoriented by being driven around in circles so they’d never know they were still on the palace grounds. Not that it really mattered if they knew where they were since it’s estimated that 200,000 people never left the chamber alive.
The entrance was electrified and the chambers themselves were surrounded by a channel of electrified water controlled by guards. The chambers were dark, full of vomit, blood, and feces, and each held about 500 people. Prisoners would suffocate as oxygen would run out as bodies piled up inside the cells, many victims starved to death, and some chose to end their suffering and committed suicide by jumping into the electrified water.
His Murder Spree Shifted From Those Who Posed Political Threats To Innocent Civilians
In addition to having his political rivals and government officials murdered, he also turned on ordinary civilians; farmers, students, and even religious figures, including the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Janani Luwum. Amin sent his death squads out to gun people down and sometimes they’d force their victims to club one another to death. Another cruel method Amin employed was having people beaten to death with sledgehammers.
He Uprooted 80,000 Asian Citizens And Stole Their Livelihoods
Amin decided to eradicate the entire Asian population from Uganda in 1972 (or rather, he claimed God told him to do this). He gave 80,000 South Asians (even those born in Uganda) 90 days to get out or suffer violent consequences. They could take only what they could carry and all 4,000 of their shops were confiscated and given to Amin’s buddies - who, of course, ran those businesses into the ground. This contributed greatly to the breakdown of the country’s economy. Among those tossed out of Uganda were medical doctors, dentists, teachers, veterinarians, and technicians, further crippling their medical industry, education system, and Uganda’s economy as a whole.
He Flew Into Violent Moods And Murdered Members Of His Staff At A Whim
Amin would fly into rages and order the execution of any employees or staff members who displeased him, often claiming they were the victims of "accidents." The Telegraph reports:
One former Amin employee, Frank Kalimazo, was attending his daughter's wedding when he was informed that his demise had been announced on the radio. He was part of an administrative backlog.
On another occasion, Amin telephoned the wife of Robert Astles, an English emigre who became infamous for his intimacy with the dictator, to offer his regret for the accidental death of her husband and to tell her that she could collect the body from the city morgue. In fact, Astles had evaded the intended assassination.
It was one of four occasions when, bored of his company, Amin ordered his death. Years later, having finally returned alive to Wimbledon, Astles, himself a most unpleasant individual, said survival under Amin largely involved staying out of sight until he was in a better mood.
He Executed People For Treason With No Proof Of Guilt
During Amin’s reign of terror, he felt it was his duty to punish all adversaries, even if those enemies were completely imaginary and he had no real reason to suspect any wrongdoing. Amin would order public executions by firing squad for anyone he felt was plotting against his regime and even had them televised. He’d have his victim’s bodies tossed in the Nile, literally creating a bloodbath: dead bodies were constantly being seen floating down the Nile from Uganda. At times, a dam on Lake Victoria would be so clogged by bodies that it would cause power outages.
Amin Was On A Mission To Squash The Educated
Amin was practically illiterate, he had only a second-grade education, and he felt especially threatened by educated Africans. So instead of seeking education or putting intelligent, capable people in positions of power to better serve the country, he simply wiped out most of the intellectual class.
He Had A Thing For Hitler And Spoke Fondly Of Him
Between the eradication of the Asian population and his apparent love for mass genocide, Amin had quite a lot in common with Adolf Hitler. He didn't shy away from speaking highly of the mass murderer in public, saying he was "right to burn six million Jews."