‘……...Malawi’s albino youths who are under protection from the police and army to stop hunters slaughtering them to use body parts in magic rituals
- Albino men and women continue to be hunted for their body parts in Africa
- Malawi police have been ordered to shoot anyone caught attacking albinos
- Tanzania PM previously urged citizens to kill those caught with body parts
- In nearby Burundi, youngsters are being housed in special accommodation
These are the albino men and women put under police and army protection in a desperate bid to stop the cruel East African black market trade of their body parts.
Police across Malawi have been ordered to shoot anyone caught attacking albinos, while Tanzania’s prime minister has urged citizens to kill anyone found with albino body parts.
And in nearby Burundi, albino youngsters from across East Africa are being housed in special accommodation under army protection in a bid to deter attackers.
The drastic developments come as the United Nations reports at least 15 people with albinism, mostly children, have been killed, wounded, abducted or kidnapped in East Africa in the past six months.
Body parts of those with albinism are prized in black magic and witchcraft, as it is believed spells based on their body parts will bring luck, love and wealth.
Nearby Burundi has also taken steps to safeguard albinos by accommodating them in housing under protection.
The latest order came from Malawi’s Inspector General of Police Lexen Kachama who instructed police to shoot any ‘dangerous criminals’ caught abducting albinos, according to local media reports.
‘Shoot every criminal who is violent when caught red-handed abducting people with albinism,’ said Kachama, adding that he was ordering police to use weapons in proportion to the crime.
‘We cannot just watch while our friends with albinism are being killed like animals every day.
‘We do realize that these people are ruthless, have no mercy and therefore they need to be treated just like that.’
His comments came just a month after a Malawian man was arrested for trying to strangle to death a 16-year-old albino boy.
Catherine Amidu, 12, sits in her home Malawian home, in a region where six albinos have been killed since December
Village chief Mariam Witness stands in a graveyard where the grave of an albino person was recently desecrated. Body part traders are known to exhume graves in order to obtain body parts in the cruel trade
A similar remark was made by Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in 2009 when he urged citizens to kill anyone on the spot if they were found with the limbs or organs of albinos.
Albino rights group have called for greater protection of albinos but said killing suspects was not going to deter criminals offered large sums of money for securing body parts as they were likely to still take the risk for the promised reward.
Witchdoctors will pay as much as $75,000 for a full set of albino body parts, according to a Red Cross report.
Vicky Ntetema, executive director of Under The Same Sun, a Canadian non-profit organization defending albino rights, said campaigners wanted justice for those people kidnapped, mutilated and murdered.
‘But we have to remember that all those goons caught red-handed … are small fish – agents and executors of the big sharks out there,’ she said.
‘Killing them on the spot is not going to help us catch the inducers, those with money to hire these gangs who continue to terrorize innocent people with albinism and their families.’
An albino boy sits between his two parents at their home in Malawi
Ntetema urged police in Tanzania, Malawi and Burundi to quiz suspects to get information about the witchdoctors who use albino body parts and their clients.
‘We all need to unite and find the culprits who are hiding behind the killers … Why would people kill albinos if they were not asked to get their organs by someone?’ she said.
The plight of people with albinism has worsened in East Africa in recent years, according to U.N. and police figures, with concerns that an election in Tanzania this year will prompt more attacks as politicians seek luck at the ballot box.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein last month urged African governments to combat impunity for crimes against people with albinism.
Albinism is a congenital disorder which affects about one in 20,000 people worldwide, according to medical authorities. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400.