Idi Amin

Born in 1925 he was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979.  Over those eight years he managed to wipe out a fairly large portion of Uganda’s population for very tenuous reasons. Basically, if he hated you, you died. When he first rose to power he had the military leadership rounded up and decapitated. He then sat on a pile of their heads and chastised them while taking bites from their flesh. Amin was a member of the Kakwa tribe. They believed that if you ate a section of a man you killed then his spirit could not return to haunt you.

Amin was born in 1925 in the Republic of Uganda.  As a child he was deserted by his father and was brought by his mother, a herbalist and diviner.  He was a member of the Kakwa ethnic group which is a small Islamic tribe that was settled in the region.  Idi Amin received very little formal education as it is unknown whether he attended the local missionary school.  However, in 1946 he joined the King’s African Rifles which is Britain’s colonial African Troops.  He served in Burma, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.  He was considered very skilled at his occupation but seemed very eager and gathered a reputation for being cruel at times.  In fact, he was almost cashiered on several occasions for excessive brutality during interrogations.  Eventually, he worked his way through the ranks, reaching sergeant-major before finally being made an effendi which is the highest rank possible for a Black African serving in the British army.  From 1951 to 1960 he held the position of heavyweight boxing champion in Uganda.

Amin was sent to the UK to further his training in the military and on his return in 1964; he was promoted to major and given the task of dealing with an army in mutiny.  During this time he took over the as president after a proposed scandal took place within the government.  Idi Amin began to strengthen his position in the military by using funds from smuggling.  Troops under Amin’s command committed the ‘Turkana Massacre’, while holding an operation of cattle stealing.  Investigations showed that the victims had been tortured, beaten to death and in some cases, buried alive.

After many cases of murder, evidence shows that Amin began to become very paranoid.  He was apparently involved in blood rituals and cannibalism.  He may have also suffered from hypomania, a form of depression which is detected by irrational behavior and emotional outbursts.  At this time he was still president and had betrayed many people.  The economy of Uganda was failing as inflation reached an excess of 1,000 percent.  In his final years of reign, Amin decided to annex Kagera, a province on the border of Uganda.  This backfired and the capital of Uganda, Kampala was captured.  Amin fled to Libya where he stayed for almost 10 years, before finally settling in Saudi Arabia where he remained in exile.  In 2003, Idi Amin’s death was reported due to multiple organ failure.  He was never tried for abuse of human rights.

– by Katelyn Groeger, 10ENG

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Fidel Castro

Fidel Alejandro Castro was born on August 13, 1926 in Cuba. He was brought up by wealthy parents and had five siblings. Fidel’s parents, both illiterate, were determined their children should receive a good education.  Fidel was sent to a Jesuit boarding school where he learnt discipline and soon showed that he was extremely intelligent. However even as a teenage Fidel was a rebellious boy, he helped organize a strike of sugar workers on his father’s plantation.

Fidel went on to become a lawyer in Havana, often taking on the cases of people who could not afford to pay him, leaving himself constantly short of money. Fidel’s experience as a lawyer made him extremely critical of the great inequalities in wealth that existed in Cuba. Fidel resented the wealth and power of the American businessmen who appeared to control the country.

In 1947 Fidel joined the Cuban People’s Party. Fidel was attracted to this new party’s campaign against corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and low wages. By 1952 he was a candidate for congress for the Cuban People’s Party. A powerful public speaker Fidel soon built up a following amongst the young members of the party.  The party was expected to win the election but during the campaign with the support of the armed forces General Batista took control of the country. For the Cuban People’s Party to gain power Fidel came to the conclusion that revolution was the only way.

By 1953 Fidel planed to overthrow Batista by attacking the Moncada Army Barracks with an armed group. The plan ended in disaster with eight of his group killed in the fighting and another eighty murdered by the army after they were captured. Fidel avoiding execution was put on trial and charged with organising an armed uprising. Using this opportunity Fidel made a speech about the problems of Cuba and how they could be solved, this speech later became a book entitled ‘History Will Absolve Me’. Fidel was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Fidel became famous in Cuba from the trial and the publication of the book. His attempted revolution had considerable support in the country.  Batista decided to release Fidel after he had served only two years of his sentence due to considerable pressure from the Cuban population. Castro left for Mexico where he began to plan another attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.

The Batista’s soldiers arrested, tortured and questioned many innocent people. Suspects, including children, were publicly executed then left hanging in the streets for several days as a warning to others who were considering joining Fidel.

Despite Batista having the backing of the United States government, Castro was confident he could beat him in a battle to rule Cuba. Castro’s troops began to march into the main towns and soon after Batista fled Cuba. In response the remaining government Generals attempted to rule, however Castro called for a general strike and the workers of Cuba supported him, forcing the military to accept their desire for change. As a result in 1959 Fidel Castro became Cuba’s new leader.

Castro’s government passed many new laws. Rent was cut for low paid workers by as much as 50 percent and land owned by Batista and his former ministers confiscated.   Cuba’s US owned Telephone Company was nationalised and land redistributed among peasants. Morally opposed to racism, drugs, prostitution and gambling, Castro abolished segregation laws in public places such as swimming pools and cemeteries, and passed laws to close down casinos and night clubs. He believed in education for all. In Cuba at this time particularly in poor rural areas, many people were illiterate and children did not attend school. Following the revolution Castro set about changing this. At Castro’s request students travelled to rural areas, teaching people to read and write. Eventually free education was made available to all Cubans. To help improve the health of the young the government introduced a free health service and began a mass inoculation program.

During the three years following the revolution a quarter of a million Cubans out of a population of six million left the country. Many were middle and upper class Cubans who found they were worse off financially as a result of Castro’s policies.  Whilst most Cubans who remained in the country supported him, many began to resent Castro. He did not keep his promise to hold free elections and was becoming less tolerant to those who disagreed with him. He sacked ministers and replaced them with people who were often young and inexperienced. Politicians who disagreed with him faced being arrested and considered as deviants, as were homosexuals who were often imprisoned.

Castro used his power to achieve many good things in Cuba including social welfare, universal education, almost guaranteed employment and quality health care. However his one- party state jailed those who opposed him, ruined the economy and led hundreds of thousands of Cubans to flee. This abuse of power has led to a government which controls every Cuban newspaper, television channel and radio station and restricts internet access. Castro used his power to avenge the torture and murder of hundreds of Cubans by the Batista government. He set up public tribunals where the people responsible were tried and executed. Whilst this pleased many Cubans, world opinion was divided and somewhat shocked.

Denied the right to vote against Castro and his party in free elections, anyone can be jailed for “social dangerousness” which does not need them to have committed any specific offence. Before coming to power Fidel Castro used his power to influence Cubans to have faith in him and support him and the revolution to overthrow the Batista government. Many Cubans kept their faith and belief in Castro right till the end of his political life, however this goodwill was not returned. Fidel Castro remained suspicious of not only other governments, but also of his own people for as long as he was in power. Castro’s health declined and in 2006 he transferred his political responsibilities to a younger brother.

– by Maddi Pecar

Adolf Hitler

“As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”

 — Adolf Hitler —

Adolf Hitler came to power by means of wits, not only was he very intelligent but he had a plan, and executed it. He preyed on the weak and vulnerable, setting up alliances with people in high places to do the ‘dirty work’. Thus securing his long time invasion plans. With most of Germany in a financial crisis and in fear of losing jobs Hitler decided to pounce. He told them that by joining forces with him, Germany would gain power, a power that had never been witnessed before. This movement began to gain momentum and before anyone knew it, the Nazi’s had gained power in parliament. Hitler was to be crowned chancellor, shortly before the president died in 1934. He reigned supreme in the race for presidency and took charge of the ‘monster movement’. Germany had no idea of what was yet to come, thinking that this would be a change for the better. It was the calm before the storm.

To Germany’s astonishment, the storm was brutal with Hitler and his Nazi party trying to commit genocide by wiping out Jewish citizens.  No one could stop his momentum now and Hitler knew it. He now had the power he needed to take over Germany and the rest of the world. He started by sacking Jews from their jobs, followed by the burning of their shops and finally setting up concentration camps. These were pretty much torture cells, not even the lowest of criminals deserved these conditions. It was the middle of winter when this took place and the prisoners were only given one pair of stripes, nothing that could keep the harsh winter wind out. They were hardly fed, just given enough to prolong the torture. In his eyes humans were created wrong, they were supposed to have blue eyes, and bright blonde hair… no exceptions! Hitler’s plans to set the rewind button and create humanity ‘as it should be’ were cut short. If it weren’t for certain people who had the will to stand up to this monster. Which minority these people were, he may have succeeded and exterminated millions more Jews than he already had.

Hitler may come across as being corrupt but he wasn’t entirely, he didn’t pay the police to keep quiet, he didn’t use his power out of anger or a quest for popularity and greed. He was simply trying to dig Germany out of debt and restore peace to his country as he saw it; ordering the massacre of millions. In Hitler’s eyes his intentions were just, and he wasn’t the only one. Many German compatriots also showed support for his actions. If he was doing wrong should someone have brought it to his attention? Hitler’s motives are questionable but can be viewed from both sides. He could have been motivated purely by the power he had and the self-interest of living perfectly. Or he could be innocent to the fact that he could not see straight. He was on a mission to restore peace, getting lost halfway through the journey. It is unanimous when it is stated that Hitler was a monster, killing millions of innocent Jews. But it is questionable to say that his thoughts weren’t meant to be ‘monstrous’. He was a bad influence, he also showed that he wanted to change Germany for the better not the worse. In doing so committing sins that aren’t even thought about. He had an incredible power over the German public but chose to use it in an inhumane way, therefore labeling Adolf Hitler as ‘the bad’.

– by Riley Siketa, 10ENG

Anonymous

An unusual unstoppable power.

Anonymous, first started in 2003 to attack internet sites that have been seen wrong by the members of the group. Anonymous attacks have stepped up since 2006, from when they first started by attacking social networking sites like Habbo hotel, to attacking the religious group scientology. Many “high power” people which have said things against Anonymous, or which have offended Anonymous, have had their emails and websites published on the internet which has ended up destroying many business.

The sort of power anonymous harnesses is that they can attack just any website on the Internet, they have hacked government websites with strong firewalls, so it is most people on the Internet. Teaming up with new freedom of information group Wiki leaks, helping the company release private information that they see as information everyone should know.

Anonymous hasn’t got there power from one single person but a group of people which have set up sophisticated, planed attacks on companies on people and business. The way Anonymous came about their power is un-explainable because it is just a group of Internet hackers working together.

Anonymous outcomes or achievements have come from hacking websites and releasing information or personal information. In February Aaron Barr from HBGary Federal lawyers said he had cracked Anonymous. This was a mistake because Anonymous went on to hack the websites main page and replace it with the message “Anonymous should not be messed with” and also 68,000 personal emails were posted. This put the company to a loss of $2,500,000. Anonymous uses their power for good by freedom of information and destroying many bad companies.

Anonymous really depends on which side of the fence you sit on, if the hacks are being done to you, you may think that the organization is corrupt, or in the opposite direction if its practice what you believe in then it is a good person and not corrupt and upholding the rights to freedom of information. They also have the power to affect people as you can see in the protest which are being held all over the world at the moment, Exposing company greed, because most of these members that started the peaceful protest were member of anonymous.

– by Liam McGarry, 11ENG

Mary Tudor

Mary Tudor was the only child born to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to survive childhood and after the death of her half brother, the then king Edward she was proclaimed queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem and Ireland in July of 1553. Through inheritance Mary ruled as queen for six years using even after an abundance of threats were made to her person by many lords and members of her council to replace her throne with a queen they could easily manipulate and control.

Parliament met four days after the queen’s coronation and Mary introduced legislations that she had long anticipated. The main act appealed was to repeal all the religious laws passed in the reign of Edward VI, this act did not pass easily as her father’s laws had already caused so much change and hurt, they feared returning the laws he disowned would confuse the people and initiate more of the same pain .

After much thought and anticipation, Mary began to act on her intention to restoring the Catholic faith in England. The nobles were allowed to keep the lands gained in the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, but the Queen encouraged returning former Church property and set an example by doing so herself. The medieval heresy laws were restored by Parliament, which meant that heretics could be killed, and their property and holdings given over to the Crown.

Mary had never forgiven her father for divorcing her mother, nor had she accepted his break with Rome. Immediately on acceding to the throne, she set out on her personal mission of returning England to the Church of Rome. This brought the death of innocent people who Mary saw as sinful due to their lack of faith in the catholic religion.

Her methods were uncompromising. She invoked old heresy laws to make an example of prominent supporters of Anglicanism, and had no less than 300 of her subjects burned at the stake on such charges, most famously Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This earned her the name Bloody Mary. Through this act I believe she used her power as a bad use, but to her credit she was following something she deeply believed in and thought was for the greater good of her country, although in the process she took innocent lives and nobody, no matter how ‘monstrous’ they are deserved to be killed because of the decisions and dreams of somebody else, she is deemed as a bad powerful influence in my opinion.

Her mission was doomed to failure, mostly because she reigned for only five years and also because of her fanaticism that made her extremely unpopular. Marrying Philip II of Spain, England’s enemy, did nothing to help her cause, nor did he give her an heir. All in all, her reign was a national and personal tragedy. Although her intentions to restore catholic faith back into England were made with good intentions on her behalf, the way in which she went about doing so, failed her as a queen. In doing this she lost the love of her subjects and sacrificed numerous innocent people for a dream that would never rise to succession.

Mary was succeeded by her younger half-sister Elizabeth, a confirmed Anglican and a highly intelligent and talented politician after her death from illness in 1558. Elizabeth’s reign restored some much needed stability to the realm as she tried to fix the wrong doings of her half sister and father.

Mary Tudor used her power for bad and destroyed her image as queen, she lost the love of her people for a dream she could never enforce.

– by Taryn Baxter, 11ENG