The truth about Amin murders

Gadaffi to Amin's left ., the Gentleman to Amin's right is Micombero of Burundi.

Gadaffi to Amin’s left ., the Gentleman to Amin’s right is Micombero of Burundi.

Fellow Ugandans,
I have followed inquiries about the death or disappearance of Journalists, Priests, Politicians, Common people (Abantu baabulijjo) on the UAH forum, but it seems the answers given by some members , are either not satisfactory or simply unbelievable. I think that the people who know the truth are either scared to come forward with it,simply because they want to forget the past or are silent to protect themselves from the ”Political or Military Heavy Weights” who may fear being incriminated in those cases. I may also add that during the rule of Idi Amin most people inside Uganda knew much less of what was actually happening than those out of the country.

In the beginning the killings were not so secret, but with the support of the people Idi Amin enjoyed, even those who could have condemned the killings were convinced that ”Amin was killing Obote’s people”. The soldiers themselves were terrified as they did not know who among them would die next. Oh yes, they were pointing fingers at each other and the Acholi and Langi were the most vulnerable. It was commonsense that Amin inherited a Professional National Army, but the dominance of the forces by the Acholi and Langi scared him. Given the manner he liquidated them, one may conclude that he (Amin) feared that these two tribes would overthrow his regime and re-instate Milton Obote.

In 1973 I went to Nairobi, Kenya with the Uganda National Boxing team for the then annual Millington Drake Boxing Tournament. We were staying at the Brunners Hotel, about opposite Six-Eighty Hotel. One day I received a telephone call in my Hotel room. I was requested by the receptionist to come to the Reception and that there were two ”gentlemen” who wished to talk to me. When I arrived at the Reception I was introduced to two men who identified themselves as Captain Aswa and Mr.Jolly Joseph Kiwanuka. Immediately, I realized that I was talking to the man who actually announced the coup that brought Amin to power. About the other man, I often heard his name as ”Jolly Joe Kiwanuka” and had something to do with Express Football Team, which the fans called ”e Team Y’Abantu”. I was now confused about why these two wished to talk to me in particular. Mr.Kiwanuka told me that he was a business man and that he was temporarilly in exile and that he would ”soon return home”. Captain Aswa told me that he wished to talk to somebody ”who comes from Fort Portal” and that he had been told by the Ugandan Team Officials that I am the one who ”comes” from Toro. He requested me to convey a message to his brother, Regimental Sergent Major of the 2nd Paratroopers’ Battalion, Apollo Ezati, which I said I would. When I returned to Uganda I decided to shut my mouth. I suspected that he could have betrayed me for promotion as a loyal soldier, at which point he could have reported me as someone who was in touch with the ”enemies of the 2nd Republic” and wanted to involve him. Many people lost their lives, not because Amin had sanctioned their death, but because of personal feud,,jealousy or envy.

days after the January 25th 1971 coup. Amin is here letting Mama Miria know that no harm will happen to her or her children

days after the January 25th 1971 coup. Amin is here letting Mama Miria know that no harm will happen to her or her children

The people in Uganda relied on the Radio Uganda, UTV and Newspapers to know what was happening around the country. Amazingly, the people seemed to trust the press. People were dying, but the press would announce that ” He has run to his imperial master”.

By 1975 fear was everywhere including in the armed forces barracks. Idi Amin had re-enforced the State Research Bureau (SRB) by transfering many ”Nubians” from Army and Air Force Units to the Bureau. After the struggle for the office of the Chief of Defence Staff by the then Military Police Chief Brig. General Hussein Malera and the Chief of Defence Staff Brig. General Charles Arube in which Brig. General C. Arube died, it was apparent that Amin was losing power. Amin was scared of everyone. Brig. General Hussein Malera was retired and sent back home to Southern Sudan. Colonel Mustafa Adrisi was transfered from Bondo Regiment in the North and made Acting Chief of Staff.

One morning, ( I’ve forgotten the exact date.) shortly after 0600 AM I heard on Radio Uganda (Ebiraango) that ” Hajjat Affua Namuddu abikka mutabaniwe Charles Lwanga, yafudde” ( Hajjat Affua Namuddu announces the death of her son Charles Lwanga). I thought I was dreaming because I had been with Charles Lwanga the previous day and he was inviting me out ” to enjoy” with him. Charles Lwanga was my brother-in-law and a brother to Halima Namakula, the singer. Halima came to my residence and told me that Charles had been short dead by the members of the State Research Bureau. I immediately went to the SRB Headquarters, Nakasero and told the Adjutant Lieutenant Jackson Kyalikunda what his people had done to my brother-in-law. He promised to inform the Director of the SRB, Lt. Colonel Francis Itabuka and that they would investigate and bring the ”culprits” to justice. I knew that the ” Law of the Land ” at the time was a firing squad, but I was not concerned with the type of purnishment.

I only wanted to know who had killed not only was he my brother-in-law, but also my sincere friend. Later while on leave in Fort Portal I was infomed by the Acting Adjutant of the General Headquarters, Uganda Armed Forces, Lieutenant Ali Kaunda Vuni that a mutual friend and colleague, Uganda Marines Captain John Mule had been short dead at Kamwookya. The killers were thought to be members of the SRB. Capt. John Mule was also a childhood friend of mine. He was Kakwa, but grew up in Toro and spoke excellent Runyoro/Rutooro. As in Charles Lwanga’s case the killers were never found. I later learned that one of the tactics of war agaist Amin was to discredit his government in every way possible. Amin and his government had to be seen as killers who did not respect human life whatsoever. Some killers were in fact Ugandans who were sent to pose as members of SRB and harrass people or even kill. As the imposters were hard to discover, the Secret Service turned against itself so that they did not trust each other.

Although Kiswahili was the language normally used in the security and defence forces, it was gradually replaced with Kinubi. This brought about a feeling of alienation of the people from other areas of Uganda, but West Nile and Southern Sudan. I escaped assassination several times, but always thought it was mistaken identity, until Brig. General Maliyamugu told me, ” Batakuduupa ngu ofooke musiraamu. Nobu barakutiinisa oyijuke ngu nyowe ndi Mukristo Isaac, nkabalema” ( Don’t be deceived and convert to Islam. Even when you are scared remember I am a Christian Isaac, I defeated them.) After talking to him I realized that the attempts on my life were not ” mistaken identity ”, as I had thought.

Some days later, I encountered Major Farouk Minawa in the Republic House. Although we were engaged in a friendly talk with other officers, the Major was suddenly hostile to me, an act that surprised me. I had to think fast how to get out of trouble. I kept quiet for a while and then told him that I have been thinking about converting to Islam, but did not know what to do about it. He looked at me with a broad smile, but somehow as though he had misunderstood what I had just said. I repeated what I had said, but this time confirming that I was converting to Islam. He jumped up and lifted me as he danced around with me saying repeatedly ” Allah Akbar……”. After a while he rushed out of the building saying that he was going to inform the President. Later that evening of 1976 Radio Uganda and UTV announced that I had converted to Islam. The following day President Amin called our office. He was asking for Captain Ali Bamuze ( now Lt.General retired.) He asked whom he was talking to and when I mentioned my name, he laughed almost uncontrollably, as he congratulated me. That saved my life and gave me a possibility to investigate what was actually going on. I realized that the regime was weak and that Amin had a paranoia, so that he trusted nobody and seemed to fear everybody, hence the dreams in which he claimed Allah told him when and how he would die.

” N’azina obulungi ava mu diiro” ( even a good dancer leaves the floor ), so the Baganda saying goes. My hope and wish is that we should be more open here at the Forum so that we can educate each other about what has transpired in our country that has brought us to where we are. The killings went on after the fall of Amin’s government and I am not surprised that the killings continue up to this day. I believe that it is the opennesss and sincerity that will bring an end to the killings and other forms of inhumanity. We must not be deceived to think that all killings are sanctioned by the President or by the Government. In all the chaos we can perhaps agree that it is the mismanagement and neglect of State affairs that is to blame.
I believe that the truth will heal our hearts and I pray for courage for all those who may need it to share what they know that will free us from this never ending-anger.
May God Bless Uganda.
Byaruhanga, Jonny Rubin.



13 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Mr Byaruhanga
    Thank you so much for the story. However to your surprise am an admirer of Amin simlpy because the first years of my life were under Amin. Amin left when i was in P.4 at the age of 9 in our village in Kamuli District.
    The situation may not have been ok because of the lack of essential goods but i admired the discipline then. Things changed after the oevrthrow until today.
    About the killings, in our village we had a gentleman who was alleged to write a letter to Amin after which he ran to Kenya. His wife was my good teacher in P.1. Another incident was our Saza chief who was smuggling coffee to Kenya but the deal did not materialise, he also ran to kenya.
    From what am gathering now through various media but most importantly Radio super, am in no doubt that whoever Amin killed was innocent. He had the best intelligence which went on hand picking criminals like black mwesigwa, museveni’s collegeau and many others.
    There was a group called RUE which participated in killing Dr.Sembeguya of Kawempe and may others. There was Museveni a serial killer i do not know how many he killed.
    Madina Amin confessed on CBS that Janan Luwum was guilty in participating in subversive activities.
    So, many killings happened but the exiles played a role.

  2. Bwendero M,

    Dear Byaruhanga J Rubbins,

    Thank you for the insights into the Amin murders. My comment is about late Brig.Gen.Yorokamu Tizihwayo,western brigade commander Kasese 1975-1979.

    Circumstances of his death are conflicting,others say he was murdered by SRB on instructions of Amin while others say it was internal rivarly in the army since Amin at the height of 1979 war, was to appoint him army chief of staff.
    Infact when he was commanding officer of 2nd paratropper bn, he had a serios conflict with a certain Major Abiriga where he survived death narrowly.

    Could you kindly please give us information surrounding his disappearance and eventual death.



    musevenbi is our dream.i have seen all past regimes.let us really appreciate what he has done to our ever un appreciating should think wildly.


    museveni is our dream.i have seen all past regimes.let us really appreciate what he has done to our ever un appreciating should think wildly.

  5. Ryan,

    Charles Arube who was murdered by amin’s army was my sisters father. She is currently trying to gather information but mainly ‘dates’. If anyone can help this would be greatly appreciated.

  6. kelly,

    I don’t know much about this story as I wasn’t born at the time. but is there any wya you could let me know about jolly joe kiwanuka, what part he had to play in all of this war madness and how he was connected to the Amin killings?

  7. Thank god for Amin,

    AS for luwum good riddance to bad rubbish he used to the church to amass weapons. and it was the politics of kill or be killed. After Amin left Aids finished them completely what a cursed people. It’s now Al shabab hahaha

  8. I am seeking information regarding the dissapearance of my father Robert Scanlon in June 1977. He was called to SRB Nakasero after he went there he was never seen again. He was a white Ugandan.

  9. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information,
    but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or
    understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking
    for this information for my mission.

  10. I leave a leave a response each time I like a post on a website or if I
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  11. It’s an awesome post in favor of all the internet viewers; they will obtain benefit from it I am sure.

  12. Simon Amupolo,

    How Brigadier Isaac Maliyamungu died?

  13. For some strange reason I cannot read your full comment Simon Amupolo but I am very interested to read what you have to say as I am seeking information related to the disappearance of my father Robert Scanlon in 1977. Please can you post in my blog: thank you so much Chérie Scanlon

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