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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The World Stood Silent as Amin Worked His Evil

August 21, 2003

Re "Former Ugandan Dictator Who Ruled by Terror Dies," Aug. 16: Idi Amin dies in a hospital instead of on the gallows. He joins the ranks of the most evil persons of the past century, along with Adolf Hitler, Tojo, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung and other dictators who ran their countries into chaos. Why did not the United States stand up and say, "No more"? Would we stand by today and let some homicidal dictator kill tens of thousands of his own people?

Sol Taylor

Sherman Oaks

*

I was a physician on a diplomatic passport attached to Makerere University in Uganda in 1972. I saw Amin face to face when I provided care to one of his wives and later witnessed the sheer and horrific terror this man wrought upon the peaceful East African community. In the late summer of 1972 he ordered the expulsion of all Asians (Indians) from the country, but required that the Bank of Uganda stamp their passports upon departure. He then closed the bank.

Rape, murder and cries for help pierced the lush equatorial countryside. Screams of torture were routinely heard from Makindye Prison, high above one of the seven hills that overlooked Kampala. The ritual of prisoners clubbing one another to death in order that the remaining few be spared was more than a mere rumor. I witnessed such an atrocity. Following the tragedy at the Munich Olympics, Amin telegrammed Golda Meir, then prime minister of Israel, with the message that "Hitler was right."

The world stood silent as this tyrant unleashed his reign of terror on a peaceful people. Such a travesty is a lesson for all who love and respect freedom.

Laurence Reich MD

Beverly Hills

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