President of Malawi Peter Mutharika publicly condemned the ongoing albino killings in Malawi during a meeting last week with a national albinism advocacy group, vowing to end the menace soon. He has also ordered law enforcers to scale up vigilance, terming the killings as evil and a threat to the right to life.
“This is evil, and a threat to the most fundamental human rights in our constitution. And we will deal accordingly with those that are associated with this barbaric act,” the President Mutharika.
Mutharika has also promised to work with the United Nations Special Convoy and neighboring countries to help arrest the situation.
“Let me also inform you that I allowed the UN Special Envoy on Albinism to assist us with the best practices on how to deal with the atrocities using the countries she deals with.” the Malawian President noted.
According to The Herald, eleven people with albinism have been killed in Malawi this year alone, including a nine-year-old albino boy whose maimed head was found dumped 20 kilometers from his home. More than a dozen others have been kidnapped, with a few still missing, the Zimbabwean media outlet reports, quoting President Mutharika’s displeasure at the rise in violence:
“Two months ago, we were talking about 50 cases. Today, we have 66 cases recorded, for abductions, trespassing of graveyards, being found with human bones, suicide, assault of bodily harm, conduct likely to cause breach of peace, and killings of people with albinism.”
Human rights groups like the Amnesty International have also voiced their displeasure at the kind of brutality meted out to members of the vulnerable minority groups especially people with albinism and have called on the Malawian government to step up its fight against albino killings.
Just last year, Inspector General of Police Lexen Kachama issued a “shoot to kill” order in hopes of deterring so-called “albino hunters”:
“Shoot every criminal who is violent when caught red-handed abducting people with albinism. We cannot just watch while our friends with albinism are being killed like animals every day.” IG Kachama said.
Motive behind Albino Killings
It is believed that albino body parts are sought for use in magical rituals. Practitioners of traditional medicine in Malawi and other parts of Africa like Tanzania believe some body parts of people with albinism can provide prosperity and wealth if used in certain rituals.
For many years, Tanzania has been considered a major destination market for albino body parts. Malawian police also believe the ongoing albino killings in the country are motivated by the lucrative black market in Tanzania, where fear and superstition around albino people is very common.
The Independent reports, “A full set of albino limbs, genitals and ears may fetch up to $75,000 (£50,000) on the black market in Tanzania, according to the International Red Cross.” This has contributed largely to the intensified violence against people with albinism in Africa.
What Is Albinism?
According to www.albinism.org, albinism is an inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes. The condition occurs in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world.
Most children with albinism are born to parents who have normal hair and eye color for their ethnic backgrounds.
Albinism.org also estimates that approximately one in 20,000 people in the US has some type of albinism, while in other parts of the world like Africa, one in 3,000 people suffers from albinism.