29 November 2012

Tanzania: Five People With Albinism Killed in Three Years

Photo: IRIN
An Albino boy carries a baby.

BRUTAL killings and attacks on people with albinism (PWA) in some parts of the country have continued for the past three years, with statistics showing however that the acts have reduced compared to previous years.

The Executive Director of Under the Same Sun (UTSS), Ms Vicky Ntetema made the clarification in a response to findings of a recent report which indicated that there have not been any killings of PWA during the past three years.

Between 2010 and this year, according to the UTSS boss, there have been five killings and seven attempted killings on PWA. "On May 13 last year, a 14 month old boy with albinism Doto Mbiti died.

Doto was poisoned by a relative who did not want a child with albinism in the family," Ms Ntetema said. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) released a report recently showing that government efforts in tackling brutality against persons with albinism has helped stop killings in the last three years compared to before.

However, Ms Ntetema maintained that PWA have continued to be attacked and sometimes killed during this period. Available reports indicate that in Tanzania a total of 119 PWA have been assaulted or brutally attacked, after which their parts are violently mutilated and sold for witchcraft related rituals.

She said of the 119 attacks there are only 31 survivors, most of them deeply traumatized and severely mutilated. Leaders in the albinism community believe that many of these atrocities remain undocumented and thus the numbers are likely much higher than indicated.

While Tanzanian police first started documenting brutality against PWA in 2006, it is widely believed that these witchcraft related assaults against PWA have been going on for a long time.

During the last parliamentary budget session in Dodoma this year, two MPs with albinism, Mr Salum Barwany and Al Shaymar Kwegyir decried the continuing killings of PWA in the country.

"Just recently in October this year, one Sinzo Dereva, a 38 year old man with albinism was assaulted in Magamba Village, Chunya district, Mbeya region. He is the father of 7 children without albinism. "The neighbours heard the noise and caught the attackers before Sinzo could be harmed.

Three men were arrested and two managed to escape," Ms Ntetema, a seasoned journalist turned human rights activist, explained. Ms Ntetema also cited two incidents in which robbers had either robbed or attempted to rob from graves body parts of dead albinos.

"In January of 2011, suspected robbers broke into a grave of the late Rwegamoyo Kilanga and took parts of his skull including the jaw and right ribs. Rwegamoyo, a PWA from a village in Geita was murdered in 2008," Ms Ntetema said.

She noted further that two attempts were made to rob the grave of Doto Mbiti after his death and burial. He was a 14 month old boy with albinism who died on May 13, 2011. Doto lived and died in the village of Ibanda in Geita Region.

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