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East African albinos fear witchcraft murders

March 20, 2009

In Burundi, 11 albinos have been killed since last year.  In Tanzania, over 40 have been killed since mid-2007 by people who use their body parts, including hair, limbs and genitals, for witchcraft.

Tanzania is currently holding a secret vote to try to identity those involved in the murders and the trade in body parts. It has also banned traditional healers in an effort to curb the killings.

It is not clear why there has been such an upsurge in murders although Tanzania’s government and albino groups blame people involved in fishing and small-scale mining, an industry that has been booming.

The graves of albinos had long been plundered for the gruesome trade, leading to them being filled with concrete to prevent robbery. The killings are more recent.

Burundi has arrested at least eight people who were found with human bones, saying the killings are being carried out at the behest of people in neighbouring Tanzania. In Tanzania, at least 90 people – including four police officers – have been arrested on suspicion of killing albinos.

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete has called the killings stupid and superstitious, but some people clearly believe that using the parts of the murdered albinos will help them to achieve success.

Even if the murders can be stopped, how can such beliefs be challenged?

A woman holds her albino child before registering him at the office of the Tanzania Albino Society in Dar Es Salaam October 30, 2008. Reuters picture.


am a 22year old kenyan with albinism. and this issue of selling albino body parts is inhuman.its so challenging also to as in kenya a neighboring country we are also living in fear i have been told severaly ‘there is a big market for you in tanzania’i have also been referred as a walking bank note.and i don’t now feel comfortable walking alone.and i feel if no serious action is taken we are being denied our human rights ,its the high time we all explain the facts about albinism and all other related details this will create a greate public currently studying social enterpreneurship with a dream to improve the quality of life for albinos in africa.’if african think we are special and with power they should preserve us rather than killing us’

Posted by jayne waithera | Report as abusive

I think that this is utterly disgusting. Us African people need to stop believing that hurting and killing people can lead to someone having business success, it is so evil. I think that people with albinism have an absolute right, just like everybody else, to live their lives care free with out wondering when they will be captured and killed. Utterly disgusting, evil and shocking.

Posted by HelenM | Report as abusive

People who commit murder against any human being should be hanged, without exception. The tragic thing about the criminals is that their whereabouts are known by their clients. My suspicion is the Tanzanian law enforcement organization is doing a poor job, for not hunting down the criminals and bringing them to justice. Shame! Shame!

Posted by GaryH | Report as abusive

please this is so inhuman to our general african albinos i would like suggest to our african leaders to take critical notice of this problem i am frm ghana(kumasi)

Posted by filanzy wood | Report as abusive

I am a mother and I watched the 20/20 program on this. I bawled and bawled. Does anyone know if there is a group that could facilitate an adoption of these children? I understand the idea of keeping them in their place of heritage, but no child or teen should live in fear of death because of their skin. I cannot imagine life like this. If someone knows, please post a reputable source for adoption to get these children to loving homes and medical care. Thank you!

Posted by Heidi | Report as abusive

One thing common about Africans, we are rebellious towards change and to things that we think are unusual, being different to the majority does not mean you do not have the same attributes. Being an albino is just a different pigmentation and that does not make them less than a human. Killing them is the same as participating in evil deeds. Let us stop being judgemental and supersitious about things or it will cost us as it has in Haiti.

Posted by kay-T | Report as abusive

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