30 Years
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Confidential and Secret Documents of the British Government

These documents are a sample of those released by the British Government Public Record Office on 31st December 2002, thirty years after the expulsion of British-Asians and Ugandan-Asians from Uganda in 1972.

Source of documents:

PREM Prime Minister’s Files ( The Rt. Hon. Edward Heath)
FCO Foreign & Commonwealth Office Files
CAB Cabinet Office Files

Click on a thumbnail image to view Scanned document.

13th August, 1972 Excerpt (page 4 only) of a Confidential Report from Mr. Geoffrey Rippon, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to the Prime Minister in London after his meeting with President Amin:

  • Amin hoped that friendly countries would send doctors and lawyers to replace the Asians he was expelling.
  • Three months was too long for the Asians to leave and Britain would find that they would have the same problems with them.
  • Amin would prefer to have British people replacing the expelled Asians.
  • While the British had established an administrative system (in Uganda) that was better than that in other African countries, Amin pointed out that ‘there was still racial prejudice and antagonism in Britain, such as was found in the United States and Rhodesia’.
13 August, 1972
17th August, 1972

Confidential Report from J.G. Wallace, East Africa Department of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to his superior about a contact from an Indian claiming to represent an Asian Organisation. Mr. K. Basu thought he could negotiate with President Amin for a ‘stay of execution on the order for Asians to leave Uganda within three months in return for payment of US $20 million, which he can find.

Mr. Basu wanted an assurance that if he went ahead with his plan he would not fall foul of the British Government.

Mr. Wallace then records in handwriting ‘Having in the meantime spoken to Mr. Consell and to Mr. Dawbarn I rang Mr. Basu on the evening of 16th August to say he could take it that if he went ahead, with it on a private basis, there would be no objection from HMG (Her Majesty’s Government).

17 August, 1972

17 August, 1972
17th August, 1972 On the back of the document Mr Wallace notes ‘Mr. Kalyan K. Basu is an Inidan Citizen travelling on an Indian passport issued in Bonn. He is Bengali and his home address is 30 Grey Street Calcutta. He arrived in the UK on 13th July intending to stay until 20th July but was then given an extension until 22nd August. He says that he is then going on to Switzerland. That is all that is known about him.’


17 August, 1972
17th August, 1972

Confidential Report circulating within the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on “QUESTION OF A GENERAL APPEAL TO OTHER COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENTS TO TAKE SOME OF THE UGANDAN ASIANS”

It is fascinating to read the analysis of various governments attitudes and their likely response to the request to take in Asians from Uganda.

‘Unemployment’ is one of their main worries and this gives us an idea of the world economic setting in which the expulsion took place.

‘Racial imbalance and political tensions’ also figure often in these very frank comments and the attitude towards Asians of Indian origin gives one food for thought.

Below we give some the more interesting responses:

  • Guyana – Inhabitants of African origin who by tradition support the present Government are already outnumbered by inhabitants of Indian descent who tend to vote for the Opposition party. Quite apart from unemployment problems the Guyana Government for political reasons would certainly not admit more Indians – as it is they are believed to fiddle the elections in order to stay in power.
  • Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) – has a large Indian community brought in by the British to work the tea estates whom Ceylon has long tried to offload (with indifferent success) on India. No question of their being agreeable to adding to their unpopular Indian community.
  • Fiji – their large Indian community already presents a major political problem. The Fiji Government could never accept more Asians.
  • Malaysia – has a fairly large number of Indians who are not Malaysian citizens and every now and again the right of non-citizen Asians to continue to work in Malaysia blows up as a political issue. Malaysian Government would not therefore admit more Asians.
  • Australia – some press comment warning Australia would have to study very carefully the question of admitting some Uganda Asians. Could become a possible issue in the forthcoming election.
  • Canada – indications are Canada might be willing to consider taking some Asians from Uganda.
  • New Zealand – National Council of Churches have urged NZ should take some. The Minister of Immigration is reported to have said that the situation is being studied – in case where a “refugee situation” has arisen, the Government’s position has usually been positive and some refugees have been admitted. But the Government refused to be drawn in a subsequent PQ (parliamentary question).
17 August, 1972

17 August, 1972

17 August, 1972

17 August, 1972
29th August, 2002

Confidential Letter from Mr. Anthony Acland, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to Lord Tom Bridges of the Prime Minister’s Office at 10 Downing Street, to brief the Rt. Hon. Edward Heath on efforts in various departments to follow-up offers of help from other governments. The approaches to various countries are listed in annex.

  • Canada and Malawi are the only countries who agree to take significant numbers of Asians from Uganda.
  • Australia – the choice was between professional Asians and votes in the next election
  • New Zealand – wished to mobilise other countries to help but was not willing to be mobilised itself.
  • South Africa – the British Government actually asked the Apartheid government of the day if they would help and when they agreed to recommend to Cabinet that 5,000 Asians be taken, British officials in the FCO realise it would not be politically feasible!
  • Iran – British officials have learned that His Highness the Aga Khan would be asking the Shah of Iran to accept some of his followers for settlement although, it is acknowledged, few would be UK Passport Holders.
  • United Nations – British Government officials tried to persuade the Secretary General, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, to visit Uganda in person with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, His Highness Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, but they failed.
29 August, 2002

29 August, 2002

29 August, 2002

29 August, 2002

29 August, 2002

29 August, 2002
6th November, 2002

Confidential Telex No. 2197 from Mr. Hennings, Acting British High Commissioner in Uganda (Mr. Richard Slater, the High Commissioner, had been expelled from Uganda on 12th October) to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office reporting on a meeting with President Amin, his Foreign Minister, Mr. Wanume Kibedi, Mr. Byagagaire, Mr. Nkambo Mugerwa and Mr. Musoke, Acting Uganda Higher Commissioner in London.

  • Amin announces a planned physical count, beginning 9th November, of all Asians remaining in Uganda.
  • In Kampala, Asians would parade in Nakivubo Stadium and Kololo Airstrip.
  • Possible house-to-house searches of Asians would be undertaken
  • Asians were likely to be moved to rural areas as Amin did not want them in the towns.
  • Amin states that he might undertake some inspections of shops belonging to expelled Asians.
6 November, 2002

6 November, 2002

6 November, 2002

6 November, 2002
13th December, 1972 Confidential Letter entitled ‘Private Secretary to Secretary of State – UK Passport Holder Asians’, within the FCO, signed by Mr. J.D.B. Shaw, Gibraltar & General Department, with a Draft Note from Sir Alec Douglas-Home about the possibility of ‘settling Asians on a suitable island in the dependent territories’. The Falkland Islands are mentioned. 13 December, 1972

13 December, 1972

13 December, 1972

13 December, 1972
22nd December, 1972

Secret Letter from Rt. Hon. Mr. Robert Carr, Home Secretary and Lord President of the Council, to the Rt. Hon. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Regarding the intriguing plan to settle Asians from Uganda on ‘a suitable island in the dependent territories…..to prevent a very serious situation arising’.

Intriguing because 27,000 British-Asians had already arrived in the United Kingdom by 9th November and the majority was being housed in military ‘resettlement camps’ around greater London. What ‘serious situation’ was the Home Secretary anticipating and hoping to avoid? Was he actually proposing to airlift Asians from the United Kingdom to the Solomon Islands?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home and the FCO were not buying his plan.

22 December, 1972
28th December, 1972

Secret Letter from E. J. Emery of the Pacific Dependent Territories Department of the FCO to Mr. J.D.B. Shaw of the Gibraltar & General Department also of the FCO, dealing with the possibility of moving the Asians to the Solomon Islands.


Mr. Emery advises against this possiblity.


28 December, 1972

28 December, 1972