Malawi: Police Blocks People With Albinism Demo From Reaching State House

Police block APAM demonstrators from reaching State House.

Malawi Police in Lilongwe have blocked Association of people with albinism (Apam) protests from getting anywhere near the Kamuzu Palace, official residence of the Head of State as the members demanded President Peter Mutharika to take action of their demands contained in the petition.

Lilongwe City Council had warned members of the association on Monday aagainst holding vigils at the palace citing Section 103 of the Police Act which restricts demonstrations or assembly within State residences.

However, on Wednesday Apam members with help by some civil society organisations (CSOs) led by Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Timothy Mtambo, started the protest march from Lilongwe Community Centre Ground to an area 100 metres far from the State House where they are expected to hold vigils.

When Apam members marched near the place, police mounted a human wall blocking them from holding their vigils there.

Police blocked demonstrators marching to "force President Peter Mutharika to act against killings and abductions of persons with albinism" at a place near Big Garden, an events garden in Lilongwe, which is about 2 kilometres from State House.

The group of protesters were also blocked earlier close to the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) but CSOs participating in the march refused to bow down to demands to meet Chief Secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara instead of proceeding with the journey to State House.

Mutharika is not available at the palace in Lilongwe as he has travelled to Mzuzu in the Northern Region to undertake a number of engagements, including commissioning of the Mzimba Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation Project.

President Mutharika last week met about 50 persons with albinism mostly drawn from the Southern Region under the banner of Poor and Concerned People with Albinism (Pacpwa) - a breakaway grop of Apam.

The President responded to demands of PWAs and directed Treasury to immediately start disbursing the K3.1 billion budgeted for the 2018-2022 National Action Plan on the Killings and Abduction of PWAs in the country.

Malawi is experiencing a resurgence of attacks against persons with albinism, with two fatalities and three abductions since December 31 2018. Two of those who were abducted were later rescued by community members, one remains missing.

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