Founder of the Albino Foundation in Nigeria, Mr Jake Epelle has condemned the alleged killing of albinos in some parts of the country for ritual purposes.
Speaking in Abuja ahead of the national albinism day, Mr Epelle says Nigerians living with albinism suffer discrimination from their families, schoolmates and peers in addition to a deliberate failure to educate children living with albinism.
Mr Epelle therefore appealed to the various arms of government to come to the aid of persons living with albinism.
Dressed in yellow T-shirts and face caps, albinos converged on the national press centre in Abuja to listen to talks on albinism ahead of the national albinism day.
Some promoters of the albinism cause also appealed to privileged members of the society to assist persons living with albinism and stop all forms of discrimination against them.
Members of the albino foundation appealed to the federal government to assist them particularly in the area of acquiring education.
Albinism is an health condition that occurs in people of all race and gender and Nigeria is estimated to have one of the highest albinism prevalence rate in the world with children constituting about 40 per cent of the albinism population.
With the campaign for a national albinism day, the challenges of albinos may reduce stereotypes against persons living with albinism.
Published: March 4, 2019 By: Penelope Paliani-Kamanga – Southern Times
Blantyre – Continued killings of people with albinism in Malawi has made the country unsure of to what to do with the population blaming each other and concerned persons calling on government and the police to seriously do something about it.
The confusion, which has left the country living in fear and on bended knees, comes at a time when 10 people with albinism were recently reported missing amid reports that they may have been abducted. They have been reports of the abduction of a child in Karonga and recently of a teenager in Dedza.
Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Association of People with Albinism in Malawi. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).
Discrimination against people with albinism has been a problem in the past in Malawi and experts had expressed concerned earlier this year that the violence could get worse with the coming May 21 election. Experts called on the government to redouble its efforts and implement all necessary measures to protect people with albinism.
The expected spike around election time is due to the false belief that ritual use of the body parts of people with albinism can bring good luck and political power. This might lead to torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities.
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, in a recent demand for action, has challenged President Peter Mutharika to put an end to killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country.
He was speaking at a press conference last week in Lilongwe, following the abduction of a boy with albinism, Goodson Makanjira, 14, of Mphanyama village, traditional authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza.
Chakwera said Mutharika has executive powers to end this barbaric practice but was “sleeping on the job and being a coward”.
“I only have three words for the President; do your job! Stop being a coward and do your job. If you do not end these murders and abductions, you will leave a legacy that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Chakwera promised that once voted into power, he will end the abductions and killings within a month.
Chakwera said it was sad that the killings were continuing despite government launching the National Action Plan (NAP) last year to protect those living with albinism.
“I will keep fighting for the rights of our friends. My advice to the President is to act now, use his powers and don’t be afraid of the ‘buyers’, because I know they are there,” he said.
But State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani, in an interview, described Chakwera’s remarks as a threat to the rule of law and warned him against using the plight of people with albinism for political mileage.
In another demand for action, president of Umodzi Party (UP) one of the parties in the race for the elections, Professor John Chisi, expressed dissatisfaction with the way police were handling albino abductions and killings.
Chisi, who said the situation was pathetic, demanded the resignation of the country’s Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose on the grounds that he had failed to protect people with albinism.
“This issue of albino killings is unacceptable. These are avoidable deaths. The police have failed us, as they have the National Intelligence Bureau but are doing nothing. The Inspector General of Police must conduct a press conference to let us know why they are failing to end the malpractice, if not, he and his people must resign,” said Chisi.
National Coordinator of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Boniface Massah, said in a statement that the refusal to push forward with prosecuting suspects accused of attacking and killing people with albinism has left a persecuted minority on the edge.
Massah said in an interview the government’s failure to conclude cases demonstrated that “security has not improved”, leaving the estimated 10,000-strong community vulnerable and anxious.
“We face a high risk of attack and we have seen government commitment in words, but not in action,” he said.
In a desperate move to tackle this issue, two groups and some concerned citizens have petitioned Malawi’s Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma, to thoroughly investigate the country’s failure to protect persons with albinism.
Specifically APAM, in its petition, wants the Ombudsman to direct President Mutharika to appoint a commission of inquiry and conduct a comprehensive research to trace and identify the alleged source of demand and supply for body parts of PWAs.
Further, APAM also wants Mutharika to seek, as a matter of urgency, international support to conduct investigations, including specialist support for forensic testing and combating human trafficking, to bring perpetrators of these gross human rights abuses to justice.
The petition, signed by APAM president Overstone Kondowe, shows that there are currently 165 cases against PWAs, including 36 concluded cases, 39 cases pending in courts, 79 under investigation and 12 cases closed due to lack of proper evidence.
On the other hand, Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (Fedoma) executive director Action Amos said his organisation was concerned that there was no breakthrough in tracing the root cause of the atrocities or markets.
Reads the Fedoma petition: “We are demanding that your office assists with pushing for an establishment of a commission of inquiry. The current technical committee is toothless and won’t bring us any results. We have development partners willing to support the commission of inquiry.
The European Union (EU) has also been one of the organistions that has asked government to do something about the abductions. EU Ambassador Sandra Paesen this week called for serious criminal investigations and coordination among countries to fight abductions and killings of people with albinism.
Paesen said finger pointing will not solve the vice which has left a dent on Malawi.
Albinism is a genetically inherited condition. It often results in the lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.
The attacks stem from a belief that body parts belonging to people with albinism contain magical powers.
Mutharika, who has of late been talking tough on atrocities against PWAs, has been blamed for simply making podium rants, with little being done on the ground to stop the vice.
The Malawi government launched a four-year National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism aimed at ending atrocities against persons with albinism, and improving their social welfare. Since 2014, at least 23 PWAs have been killed.
In Malawi, attacking, mutilating and killing persons with albinism is rampant. Body parts of albinos are mistakenly believed to bring power and wealth. Not a year passes without one or more reports of these heinous crimes. The following example merely illustrates this and definitely is no exception.
In November 2015 three men attacked a 17-year old boy with albinism, Alfred Chikalo, and nearly killed him with the intention to sell his body parts. It was not the only case of attacks on people with albinism in 2015. Police in Phalombe district arrested the three culprits who confessed hacking Alfred Chikalo. A few weeks later, Police in Phalombe district arrested a 29-year old man, Lawo Sambani, who was accused of being the mastermind behind the plot to attack the 17-year old boy. The victim sustained deep stab wounds in the head, both arms and on the upper part of his left leg. He was rushed to the hospital and discharged a couple of weeks later.
It was announced that the four men in police custody will be brought to court. Unfortunately, since their detention, nothing is known about their trial. To be continued. (FVDK)
More details in the following articles (warning: the original articles contain a graphic picture showing the victim):
Inspired by real life events, “The Roadblock” is a creative movie depicting the story of Joseph, a humble, genius young boy with albinism.
A Restoration Films production, powered by Magic Promotions, “The Roadblock” is set for release at the end of February, 2019.
Played by Smith Kanono, one Monday morning Joseph returned from school upon seeing suspicious men coupled with a bad dream the previous night although his mother forced him to go back.
However, Joseph did not make it back home. He was killed by unknown men and after the funeral ceremony, the suspects were apprehended at the Roadblock for being found in possession of human bones. They all got sentenced.
Commenting on the movie, Magic Promotions Co-founder Chris Loka condemned the killing of people with albinism, describing the acts as “barbaric”.
“As Magic promotions, we thought it is wise to partner with Restoration films in condemning the barbaric act of killing people with albinism. They are our sisters and brothers therefore we need to protect them at any cost. It is unfortunate that they should be living in fear, and apart from that, as stipulated in the Constitution of Malawi (section 16), they have right to life,” Loka explained.
He added that the acts are uncalled for, saying people with albinism should have peace.
Loka quarried: “This is their country. Where do we think they can go and find peace? Obviously, its nowhere! Let them find comfort here. People with albinism form part of our audience when we have events. They give us support. It is therefore inhumane to be killing our supporters and audience.”
In his remarks, Restoration films Director Alex Standy said: “People think to be patriotic is only by voting or involve yourself in politics but that is not the case. We also need to be concerned with issues of national concern.”
He further added that he believes people will learn something from the film.
Written and directed by Alex Standy, “The Roadblock” was shot by Bonface Kawinga and Paul Pascal.
The movie stars Bololo (Lovemore Muluwira), Jentele (Happy Matenda) as the men dealing with bones business, Joseph (Smith Kanono) as the murdered boy with albinism and Mrs Iness Standy Katendema as class teacher at Kawale Secondary School.
A must read. Though a very lengthy report that I reproduce here, it contains such a wealth of information on albinism, people living with albinism, their fears, their dangers, the measures taken by the Government of Tanzania, that I thought I must conserve it and present to you. I will not even try to summarize it or give some sketchy details, judge for yourself. (Webmaster FVDK)
Published: February 9, 2019 3:01AM EST By: Human Rights Watch
Many children with albinism in Tanzania share similar stories of hardship. The “temporary holding shelters” strategy introduced by the Tanzanian government in the late 2000s may have contributed to a decline in the number of physical attacks, but Human Rights Watch observed that it led to the emergence of additional challenges.
In July 2017, Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 children and young people with albinism, aged 7 to 18 years old, and 26 other people, including family members, education professionals and nongovernmental organizations in the Mwanza, Shinyanga and Simiyu regions of Tanzania. There, we found that Tanzanian government policies designed to protect children with albinism incidentally had a negative impact on their rights to family life, an adequate standard of living and inclusive education. In order to protect their privacy and shield them from potential repercussions, the names of most interviewees referred to hereafter have been changed.
While the Tanzanian government appears sensitive to these concerns, it should now intensify efforts to reinsert children with albinism into their communities and provide them with inclusive education, while continuing to investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacking children with albinism. By doing so, Tanzania has an opportunity to emerge as a strong African leader in ensuring the safety, inclusion and dignity of people with albinism, as outlined in the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa, the first-ever continental strategy to address violations against people with albinism, adopted in 2017.
What Is The Best Interests of the Child Principle?
The Best Interest of the Child principle derives from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It requires state parties to prioritize the interests of the child in any action that may impact them. This includes taking into consideration the child’s own views and desires, his identity, his need for care and development and his right to a safe family and community environment. These factors should be considered altogether and balanced against one another if in contradiction. State intervention should be based on individual assessments of the particular child whose situation requires it.
Recommendations To the Government of Tanzania
Increase public sensitization efforts aimed at dispelling deadly and discriminatory myths about albinism, notably through workshops and public service announcements on radio and television, particularly in rural and isolated communities.
Ensure that all teachers in the public education system are trained to adequately provide for the specific needs of children with albinism.
Ensure that resources are at the disposal of schools to meet the specifications needed of children with albinism, notably by providing for textbooks and exams with larger fonts and assistive devices to read the blackboard.
Pursue efforts to promote the safety of people with albinism by investigating threats and crimes against people with albinism and holding those responsible to account.
Work with parents and communities to ensure the safe and orderly reunification of children with albinism with their families, with the goal of progressively dismantling the temporary holding shelters.
Recommendations to International Donors
Support projects dedicated to sensitizing the Tanzanian public to albinism and training teachers to provide for the specific needs of children with albinism in public schools.
Support the Tanzanian government in reuniting children with albinism with their families and ensuring their return to a safe, inclusive community.
Albinism in Tanzania
Albinism is a genetic condition that causes a deficit in the biosynthesis of melanin, a pigment that colours the skin, hair and eyes. While albinism is a rare condition in Europe and North America, affecting one out of about every 17,000 to 20,000 people, it is slightly more widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, with prevalence rates of 1 in every 5,000 to 15,000 births. Tanzania’s 2012 national census identified 16,477 people with albinism. Today, it is estimated that there are over 18,000 people with albinism in the country.
People with albinism usually have a paler, whiter appearance than their relatives. The deficit of melanin can also result in low vision and an increased vulnerability to sun’s ultra-violet radiation. Consequently, people with albinism living in Sub-Saharan African are about 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer than the general population.
As noted by the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, “The complexity and uniqueness of the condition means that their experiences significantly and simultaneously touch on several human rights issues including, but not limited to, discrimination based on color, discrimination based on disability, special needs in terms of access to education and enjoyment of the highest standards of health, harmful traditional practices, violence including killings and ritual attacks, trade and trafficking of body parts for witchcraft purposes, infanticide and abandonment of children.”
In many parts of East Africa, people with albinism are targeted for their body parts, which some believe hold magical powers and bring good fortune. Traditional healers and “sorcerers” have over the years claimed that people with albinism are “ghosts” who never die but merely disappear. In 2009, the International Federation of the Red Cross reported that a senior police officer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s economic capital said that the body of a person with albinism could fetch up to US$75,000.
Over the last decade, Under the Same Sun, a Canadian non-governmental organization working to empower people with albinism, estimates that over 200 people with albinism, many of them children, have been killed in Africa or had their body parts amputated. In Tanzania alone, the group reported that at least 76 people with albinism were killed since 2006.NGOs and local groups reported that criminals have stolen bones from the exhumed remains of people with albinism.
The last reported killing, in February 2015, took place in the region of Geita, in Northwest Tanzania, when men abducted a one-year-old baby with albinism from his mother and “hacked [him] to death.” The men were said to have hit the mother with a machete when she refused to hand over her child, an activist who was with her when she woke up at the hospital told Human Rights Watch.
Faced with increased international scrutiny at the end of the 2000s, Tanzania began to mobilize resources to fight off traffickers and protect people with albinism. Local organizations told us that since 2007, hundreds of children were removed from their families, sometimes with no consultation or consent, and placed in shelters where they were effectively isolated from society.
According to activists who spoke to Human Rights Watch, orders from the government to protect people with albinism were enforced by district commissioners, who oversee security in their respective districts.
“There is an order from the district that says that if anything happens to [a] child with albinism, local leaders would be responsible. It something happens, the whole community will be suspected,” the manager of a local organization working with people with albinism told Human Rights Watch. “Because no one wants trouble in their backyard, there was a big push from the communities to send the children to the shelters.”
The Tanzanian government also moved to combat impunity for ritual crimes, notably by investigating, arresting and prosecuting those who attack or sponsor attacks against people with albinism. In 2015, the Tanzanian government announced a ban on witchdoctors, which came out of a special joint task force between the police and the Tanzanian Albinism Society. As reported by the BBC at the time, then Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe declared there would be a nationwide effort to “arrest them and take them to court” if witch doctors continued their practices. Over 200 suspects, including some allegedly involved in killings of people with albinism, were reportedly arrested by the authorities.
Ten years after the wave of killings and attacks began, these appear to have decreased because of Tanzania’s protective measures and stronger response to ritual crimes and attacks against people with albinism. The temporary holding shelters, however, remain. “The shelters were emergency, temporary solutions. But 10 years is not temporary anymore,” an activist for the rights of people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.
Under international human rights law, children with albinism have the right to live in a family environment. Local NGOs are now making efforts to reunite children and families. The Tanzanian government should do more to reunite families, to combat stigma within communities and ensure that family caregivers have the financial and social support they need to care for these children.
The government’s response should be guided by the best interests of the children involved, and balance the child’s protection and safety with the preservation of the family environment and the enjoyment of other rights. This is particularly important as the government has begun to send some children from the shelters back to their communities.
Separation from the family and movement restrictions
Most of the 13 children and young adults with albinism Human Rights Watch interviewed described how the killings and the ensuing protection measures implemented by the Tanzanian government separated them from their families.
While in many cases, separation was a decision of the parents, five children said they were ordered to go to a shelter or boarding school by government officials (police or district education officers), with no regard for their parents’ consent. Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm this assertion from their parents. Once in the shelters or special boarding schools, the children’s freedom of movement was severely curtailed on security grounds.
Marco, an 18-year-old man with albinism, described to Human Rights Watch how his father had been obliged to let him go to the shelter: “When the killings and attacks happened, the government moved me to the Buhangija temporary shelter (Shinyanga region). Police officers came home and spoke to my dad but he refused to take me to Buhangija immediately because he wanted to find out more about it first. The first time, the police left without problems. The second time, they left with me.”
Augustin, a 14-year-old teenager from Shinyanga who was attacked by criminals who cut his left forearms and fingers on his right hand when he was four-year-old, said the district education officer took him to the shelter when he was seven or eight. “He picked me up at a bus stand. At first, no one explained to me why I was being taken there. I was sad at the beginning because I missed my parents. It felt like a punishment. Now, I understand it was to protect me from bad people,” he told Human Rights Watch.
The mother of Victoria, a young woman with albinism from Shinyanga region who stayed for three years in Buhangija, confirmed that parents did not have any choice but to let their children go: “The government wrote a letter to the school Victoria was attending giving notification that children with albinism should be sent to Buhangija [shelter]. We were given a specific date and time by which she had to be there, which was two days later.”
Victoria’s father added: “When the government said we had to bring Victoria to Buhangija, I didn’t know why. There was security here…. But I had to accept the order. I don’t know what would have happened if I had refused.” 
NGOs that promote the rights of people with albinism also reported pressure by the government on local schools and the community to send children away to the shelters, by threatening to hold community leaders and members accountable if a child who remained at home was attacked. “For communities, having a child with albinism among them felt like a burden – because you have to provide protection – so the shelters were a good solution to get rid of that burden. You don’t have to respond to police enquiries if something happens,” a national advocate for the rights of people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.
In addition, parents of children with albinism and organizations working with people with albinism told Human Rights Watch that regardless of whether children had been voluntarily or involuntarily placed in shelters, once they were under the protection of the state, they were no longer allowed to go home – even for vacations – without a letter from the village chairperson, approved by the district commissioner, guaranteeing the area’s safety. An NGO worker explained the process to Human Rights Watch:
The parents [must] first get a letter from the chairperson of the village and then send it to the district commissioner. The chairperson’s letter should say that the area is safe, that we know the child with albinism is visiting the parents. Without the chairperson’s letter, the district commissioner cannot issue his own letter. Some parents complain and say that they have the right to take the children home. But they generally understand.
Severin, a 14-year-old boy with albinism, said he never went home on vacation while he lived in the shelter. “Once in Buhangija [shelter], we were told we needed a letter to be allowed to go home. My parents didn’t try to get the letter. I felt bad not to be with my family during the vacations because I missed them,” he said.
The parents of Victoria, a young woman with albinism who stayed for three years in Buhangija, who have university degrees, said it was easy to obtain such a letter from the authorities. “When the parents are bringing the letter, it assures the school that there is full security in the family and in the village [for children with albinism],” the mother said. “We wouldn’t have been allowed if we had tried to bring [our daughter] home for good. It was impossible to come out of Buhangija [shelter] without permission. There was full security.”
A representative of an international NGO sponsoring the education of children with albinism told Human Rights Watch that these restrictions also apply to children who have been moved out of shelters and into private schools under their sponsorship program.
As a result of the government’s restrictions, some children had not been home for several years, and some were no longer in contact with their family. In one case, Lucy, a 12-year-old girl with albinism, told Human Rights Watch at the time of the interview that she had not seen her mother in two years and did not know where her family was:
I was 6 years old when I got to Mitindo [shelter in Mwanza]. My mother brought me there because she saw the thieves [people attacking children with albinism] and so she took me to the [shelter]. I was left there alone by my mother and I felt sad because she said she’d come back but did not. She came back only once I went [to a private school, where I am being sponsored by an international NGO] in 2015. She came only for one day to ask who was paying my school fees and asked whether they could pay for my brothers too. I don’t know why she hasn’t come back. We don’t get to speak on the phone. I don’t have her number. So I don’t know about my mother and brothers right now.
According to representatives of local organizations working with people with albinism, another reason why some children placed in shelters no longer see their family is because their parents left no records of where they came from, and tracing the family after several years is difficult.“When some parents brought their children to the shelters, some didn’t leave any contacts and in other cases they did but the phone numbers don’t work,” a local NGO worker told Human Rights Watch. A staff member of another NGO said the temporary holding shelters had become akin to orphanages: “Parents took advantage to drop their kids there. Some children with albinism have been there for four or five years now without seeing their parents.”
The separation from family exerts a heavy emotional toll on young children with albinism. Peter, an 18-year-old man who stayed at the Buhangija for eight years, said his brother was the only one visiting him. “I didn’t want to come [to the shelter]. I was too young. I used to cry all the time. I was a child, I missed my mother, my grandmother and my sister,” he told researchers. “Only my brother would come to visit. I did speak with my mother however, maybe once a month by phone. I felt good talking to her but I missed her.”
Despite the difficulties children with albinism face in the shelters, some, including Severin, said they saw advantages in living among other people with albinism: “My parents did not come to visit at Buhangija. But it was good to be with other children with albinism because we felt we had a right to stay in the world.”
To protect children with albinism from physical attacks, a number of shelters and boarding schools have enforced drastic security measures that deprive children of their freedom of movement.
In July 2017, Human Rights Watch visited Buhangija, a former boarding school for students with disabilities transformed into a temporary holding shelter for children with albinism in 2009. At the time of the visit, 226 children were living in the shelter, out of whom 142 were children with albinism (the others were deaf or blind children attending the inclusive school located next to the shelter). At the shelter, Human Rights Watch researchers observed a barren compound made up of five dormitories surrounded by tall walls topped with barbwire. Children with albinism who attend class walk about 100 meters to the school. The rest of their free time is spent within the compound, which has no recreation space or trees to provide for shade, useful in helping people with albinism shield themselves from the sun.
“My first impression of Buhangija was that it was so difficult because we were staying in [the shelter] for the whole day and I’m a very mobile person. So I first felt very bad but as days went by, I got used to it,” Marco, an 18-year-old who left the shelter in 2017 told Human Rights Watch.
The principal of a secondary boarding school that caters to children with and without albinism in Mwanza region told Human Rights Watch that the movement of children with albinism is restricted even beyond the temporary holding shelter, and in the case of his school, because it lacks resources to adequately protect them outside the compound: “The main challenge with people with albinism is protection and safety,” he explained. “I’ve been asking since last year for one district policemen to be on site at night but there isn’t enough [district]money to do that. So, we talk to those students and discourage them from walking around alone, especially at night.”
A 15-year-old girl with albinism attending that secondary boarding school said they are not allowed to leave the dormitories: “The environment here is not good. We are not allowed to stay outside because the school doesn’t have enough security. Classes usually finish at 2:15 p.m. and we have to be in our dormitories by 2:40 p.m.”
NGOs have reported that children with albinism living in these shelters are progressively being sent back to their communities. While this is important progress, it is essential that the process of reinserting children in their communities complies with the best interests of the child principle. Authorities should ensure that the views of children and their families are taken into account, that children have access to education in their community, and that the community has protection systems in place.
Such consultations did not take place in the case of Mariam, a seven-year-old girl from Simiyu region, who was reunited with her 85-year-old grandmother. “After she was removed from Buhangija, the government forced me to take care of Mariam because her mother and father are not providing for her, “recalled the grandmother.” This happened without the government consulting me beforehand…. They just dumped the child on me.” Mariam does not attend the local school because, her grandmother said, she could not afford to buy textbooks.
Stigma and bias in the community
Eight children with albinism interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted how they experienced stigma and bias in their communities, including name-calling.
Josefina, a seven-year-old living with her grandparents in the Shinyanga region, for example, said other children call her “Mbuliwmelu,” which means “white goat” in the local Sukuma language. “When that happens, it makes me feel sad and very angry, but I stay silent,” she said.
In the Simiyu region, the grandmother of Mariam, a seven-year-old young girl with albinism, said Mariam frequently faced similar experiences:
Most people have a negative perception of Mariam because of her color. They don’t even want to welcome Mariam in their home. If they see her, they’ll see her colour and will see that if she spends too much time in the sun she has sores. If she plays, they fear blood will come out of her. They call her “Mbulimwelu”. Mariam is always sad when they call her like that, and sometimes she locks herself in the house and starts crying. In those cases, I just leave her alone.
In some cases, parents have rejected or attacked their own children. Twelve-year-old Lucy, for instance, now lives at a private boarding school after receiving a scholarship from an international NGO. Choking on her tears, she said her mother told her that her father abandoned her prior to sending criminals to try and kill her: “My mother told me that my father refused me. I don’t want to go back [to my hometown] because it is my father who sent the thieves to get me.”
Despite efforts by the government of Tanzania and NGOs to sensitize the general public in recent years, progress remains fragile, especially in rural areas, where people with albinism continue to face stigma and the rejection of their community and, at times, their own families. This can lead to poor self-esteem among young people with albinism, and difficulties in finding work opportunities later in life. An 18-year-old man with albinism told Human Rights Watch in Shinyanga region that he thought people like him have a harder time at finding work: “My life would definitely be different if I was not a person with albinism. If you have a black skin, you have many more opportunities. You can do the physical work, whereas person with albinism have to be careful because of their skin.”
But, as the parents of four children with albinism pointed out, not all communities and families reject children with albinism. “When I had my first child with albinism, I was happy and thought this was normal. My family was happy too and if they weren’t, they didn’t let it show,” their mother said. “It is the choice of God. God is giving. We should agree with them, be close with them,” their father added.
Barriers to education
“People with albinism don’t get education,” a community organizer with albinism told Human Rights Watch. “Firstly because of their low vision. Teachers don’t know how to deal with that. Secondly because [of lack of] interaction [with others]. There is teasing in school. People with albinism face a lack of interaction with local community. People see us as bad people. They see us as people who can’t contribute because of our bad education or lack of education,” he added.
Ensuring a free, safe and dignified access to education is key to upholding the fundamental human rights of people with albinism and to combatting the stereotypes and stigma that continue to expose them to mistreatments and fatal risks.
Children with albinism face a range of barriers impeding their access to education.
Many families of children with albinism for instance are unable to enroll them in school because they lack sufficient income, or fear that having them walk to school may expose them to dangers. The grandmother of Mariam, the seven-year-old girl with albinism, said she is ready to go school but that she doesn’t have the resources to send her. “I wish for Mariam to become a doctor or a teacher. I don’t want her to be a wife. But it costs money to buy books and everything.”
Children with albinism may also face health risks at school due to their sensitivity to the sun. Laura, a 15-year-old student at a public secondary school, told Human Rights Watch that despite efforts to train teachers on the needs of children with albinism, the school still put the health of children with albinism at risk: “This school is not good. They force us to do activities in the sun. Teachers can also punish you if you say you can’t do activities in the sun. They caned me three times and it was very painful.”
In addition, children with albinism do not always get the inclusive education they should be entitled to. In that respect, the existence of the temporary holding shelters and other special boarding schools, while providing safety and an opportunity to attend classes, promotes segregation and denies children the opportunity to learn with their peers without albinism and to feel included in their communities. As 12-year-old Lucy explained to Human Rights Watch, “It was not nice to only be with children with albinism because we stayed without difference – we must mix.”
Children interviewed by Human Rights Watch also said that schools sometimes fail to provide children with albinism with appropriate accommodations for their low vision. This would include assistive devices, such as magnifiers, enlarged printed material, writing in large letters on the blackboard, and seating children with albinism in the front of the classroom.
Gloria, a 14-year-old student with albinism who wants to become an engineer and build airplanes said she had different experiences in public and private schools: “Before, I was going to a public school. I didn’t like it there because there was no good care. In class, the teachers would be writing with small letters on the blackboard. I’d ask them to make the letters bigger, but they’d say that they can’t,” she told Human Rights Watch. “[The private school] was better. They wrote with big letters on the board – it was easier for me to follow the classes and get good grades.” 
Some public schools are taking positive steps. The principal of a Mwanza region public secondary boarding school that caters to the general public as well as to several children with disabilities and children with albinism told Human Rights Watch: “There is no segregation. All students are taught together. We have many special education teachers and they are all trained by the government. I insist that children with albinism sit at the front row and that the teachers write with big letters on the blackboards and that exams and other exercises are printed with big font for them,” he said. Yet, the resources are scarce: “We get some equipment from the ministry, but not enough. We have no monoculars [to help children with albinism see the blackboard], for instance.” 
Lawrence is a shy nine-year-old boy who attends public school and his father is very proud of him. “When we took him to school for the first time, teachers were very aware of albinism, maybe they had been trained,” Charles said. “The only challenge Lawrence faces is his vision. Sometimes he has difficulties reading the blackboard [but] he gets support from the teachers and sometimes they explain or move him to the front. Lawrence does very well at school and sometimes is at the first position.”
It is important that all teachers be familiarized with the specific needs of students with albinism and that the schools be provided with adequate resources to ensure they can achieve their full educational potential. More efforts are also needed to sensitize family-members and communities about albinism, to ensure that children with albinism in Tanzania can thrive both inside and outside the classroom.
 Lekalakala, P., Khammissa, R., Kramer, B., Ayo-Yusuf, O., Lemmer, J. and Feller, L., “Oculocutaneous Albinism and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin of the Head and Neck in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Journal of Skin Cancer, August 12, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549604/ (accessed January 25, 2019).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Augustin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with A.Y. and Z.M. (pseudonym), the parents of Victoria (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with community activist (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch separate interviews with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017; Severin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017; and A.Y. and Z.M. (names withheld), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Severin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with A.Y. and Z.M. (names withheld), parents of Victoria, Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Lucy (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of one NGO working in this field (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of one NGO working in this field (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Mwanzi (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco Ndimo (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with A.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with J.P.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
After a recent “savage” killing and the abduction of a one-year-old baby in Malawi, United Nations experts have urged the Government to take immediate action to protect people with albinism and “end the ongoing atrocities”.
“We urge the authorities to step up their investigations into these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the experts said in a statement on Friday.
People with albinism are born with lighter than normal skin, hair and eye colour, making them sensitive to the sun and bright light. In some communities they are attacked or even killed for their body parts which are erroneously believed to possess magical powers.
Since 2014, 150 cases of killings, attacks and other human rights violations against persons with albinism have been reported in the southeast African nation. (Italics added by the webmaster, FVDK).
Despite various moves to support people with albinism, “the recent attacks demonstrate that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to end the ongoing atrocities,” according to the experts.
“We call on the Government to urgently address the root causes of these attacks and to strengthen nationwide campaigns to raise awareness, conduct robust investigations and prosecutions in all cases, increase protection for victims, and finance and implement all necessary measures,” stressed the experts.
UN experts fear that presidential and legislative elections due to take place in late May, could further aggravate the situation for persons with albinism. Killings and attacks often spike during election periods “because of false beliefs that their body parts can bring good luck and political power when used in witchcraft-related rituals,” the UN human rights experts said.
Some witchcraft practices result in “serious human rights violations”, such as torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities, they added.
“These two incidents are part of a larger disturbing pattern in Malawi where ritual killings and egregious human rights violations of the worst kind are instigated specifically against persons with albinism,” they underscored. “The attacks and violations are astonishing in their brutality.”
“We call on the authorities to ensure the deployment of adequate police and law enforcement personnel to protect persons with albinism where they live,” the experts concluded.
The experts also expressed concern at the reported backlog of cases of human rights violations and crimes against persons with albinism, noting that to date, there have been very few prosecutions, giving the impression of impunity.
The United Nations in Malawi is concerned by the continued gruesome attacks on persons with albinism and strongly condemns the savage killing of Yasin Phiri, aged 54, at Kande in Nkhata Bay on the eve of the new year. The UN is also concerned that there has not been progress to trace 12-year old Joseph Kachingwe who went missing on 6th July 2018.
This latest attack and other violations perpetrated against persons with albinism are a setback to the concerted efforts in the protection of people with albinism.
The UN once again calls upon the Government and all relevant stakeholders to redouble their efforts to effect immediate measures to protect persons with albinism as we go towards elections and implement the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism. The plan addresses the root causes of attacks on persons with albinism, including a nationwide awareness raising campaign, strengthened investigations and prosecutions, together with strengthened protection and victim assistance measures. If these measures are not accelerated, we will continue registering human rights violations against persons with albinism.
We urge the authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Yasin Phiri, and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. We further call upon the authorities to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of outstanding cases on violation of rights of persons with albinism to avoid cultivating a culture of impunity in Malawi.
The UN remains committed to supporting the Government and people of Malawi to proactively promote and protect the rights of persons with albinism and ensure their full participation in the protection measures and socio-economic development of the country in an environment free of stigma, discrimination and physical attacks.
Mr. Benoit Thiry United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Malawi
Ms. Ikponwosa Ero (Nigeria) was designated in June 2015 as the first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. The vision of Ms. Ero’s mandate is driven by the cross-cutting principle of the UN Sustainable development goals: “leaving no one behind…starting with the furthest behind first.” Ms. Ero has over a decade of experience in the research, policy development, and practice of human rights concerning persons with albinism. She has advised organizations and governments around the world on human rights concerning persons with albinism. As the International Advocacy and Legal Officer for Under the Same Sun — an international organization with a focus on albinism — she developed strategic initiatives involving regional and international human rights mechanisms, prepared guiding documents, and oversaw the implementation of recommendations made by the UN and other human rights organizations. Ms Ero is also the author of numerous papers and articles, particularly with regards to applicable legal frameworks as well as the development and implementation of special measures to facilitate the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
As mentioned yesterday (Jan. 21, 2019), technical difficulties prevent me from duplicating here the original article in the Nyasa Times (the webmaster FVDK).
VP Saulos Cilima’s remarks come after unknown assailants (probably on December 31, 2018) killed 54-year old Yassin Kwenda Phiri, a person with albinism who was working as a hospital assistant at Kande Health Center in Nkhata Bay. Chilima’s UTM party has also issued a strongly worded statement condemning the murder. Not surprisingly, Malawi will have elections in the near future, on May 23 of this year. Please also read the related article posted on January 21 on this site: ‘MP Kalindo threatens to reveal syndicate on albino ritual murders’.
Political opponents who throw stones to each other making allegations that have not been proven should be listened to – but they are not necessarily to be believed immediately. One such politician is Mulanje South Member of Parliament Bon Kalindo in Malawi. He was recently arrested in Lilongwe and was charged with two counts of allegedly misconduct and of insulting the president. MP Kalindo alleges his arrest was ‘politically motivated’. A few days after his release from prison – on bail – he was assaulted and severely beaten up.
Kalindo said his arrest has taught him a lot of things including getting to know the syndicate of albino killings. He claims that the albino killings is a syndicate and it involves senior officials with big names hence the need to stop pushing the blame on witch doctors or rituals. “I will come back to reveal everything through this program once my case is settled in court.”, he said. “I have so many revelations to make”, he added. Kalindo made history in Malawi when he led a demonstration in favour of concrete action against perpetrators of attacks on people with albinism, in what was called ‘naked’ march.
We will continue to follow this case (webmaster FVDK).
For technical reasons the original article in the Nyasa Times could not be duplicated. The summary above is based on the Nyasa Times article of January 20 (2019), staying as close as possible to the original text. (Webmaster FVDK)
As explained below, this is not with certainty a ritual murder case. We have to be careful not to judge too quickly and only accept clear facts before concluding that another albino person has become victim of superstition. Unfortunately, there are too many examples in Zambia and other African countries that the life and safety of a person living with albinism are in danger and are being threatened on a daily basis. This explains the reaction of the Albino Community in Zambia. People have a right to live without fear. That’s a human right. (webmaster FvdK).
Masked criminals have killed a medical Doctor Lewis Chola, an albino person who was attached to the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka in circumstances that has shocked his family and send fears to the Albino Community in Zambia.
The masked assailants abducted Dr. Chola, from his home in Kalingalinga in the evenings on 3rd January, 2019.
Information gathered suggest that the abductors later demanded for a 5000 Kwacha ransom from his Family before killing him and dumped his body near a Lodge in Kapiri Mposhi.
The deceased body had no parts missing to suggest that his killing could be a ritual murder but the Albino Community through Gift Sakala, a representative of the Albino Multipurpose corporative, the Zambia Police has been called upon to thoroughly investigate the matter.
Picture shows famous Malian singer Salif Keïta (center) and members of his foundation giving a live concert in protest against the ritualistic murdering of albinos in Africa – Fana, Mali, on November 17, 2018. AFP | MICHELE CATTANI Le chanteur malien Salif Keita (au centre) et les membres de sa fondation durant un concert destiné à dénoncer les meurtres rituels d’albinos en Afrique, le 17 novembre 2018 à Fana, au Mali | AFP | MICHELE CATTANI
Au Mali, un concert événement de Salif Keïta rend hommage à une fillette albinos assassinée
Mali: Salif Keïta gives a live concert in honor of a murdered young girl with albinism
Saturday night, legendary Malian singer Salif Keïta gave a live concert, presenting his latest album, in Fana, a small town in the south of Mali, where a 5-year old girl with albinism was found dead – murdered – in May of this year. The live concert was in honor of all murdered albinos in Africa and in protest against these horrible crimes.
In a football stadium packed to capacity in this small town of some 20,000 inhabitants – 120 km from the capital Bamako – 69-year old Salif Keïta, himself albino, was accompanied by Ismaël Lô (from Senegal), Bera, an albino artist from Georgia, Malian comedian Yao and singers Safi Diabaté (Mali) and Maah Koudia Keït (Senegal), all fighting for the noble cause of people living with albinism in Africa.
On May 13, a five-year old girl, Ramata Diarra, was kidnapped by armed men while sleeping at her parents’ place. Her dead body was found a few hours later, beheaded, next to a mosque. People immediately linked her death to a ritual killing in view of the forthcoming elections in the country. (….)
Translated by the webmaster FVDK
For more information see ‘Albino girl abducted and killed in Mali’, dated May 16, 2018 and related articles – on the present website.
The original article, in French, is much longer and reads as follows:
La légende de la musique africaine Salif Keïta a présenté samedi soir son nouvel album à Fana, petite ville du Mali où une fillette albinos de cinq ans a été assassinée en mai, lors d’un concert hommage destiné également à dénoncer les meurtres rituels d’albinos en Afrique.
Dans un stade de football archi-comble, un événement jamais vu dans cette localité de quelque 20.000 habitants située à 120 km de Bamako, le musicien de 69 ans, atteint lui-même d’albinisme, s’était entouré du Sénégalais Ismaël Lô, de l’artiste géorgien albinos Bera, de l’humoriste malien Yaro ou encore des chanteuses malienne Safi Diabaté et sénégalaise Maah Koudia Keït, militante elle aussi de la cause des personnes albinos.
Le 13 mai, la petite Ramata Diarra, cinq ans, avait été enlevée en pleine nuit par des hommes armés alors qu’elle dormait dans la cour de la concession familiale. Son corps décapité avait été retrouvé quelques heures plus tard à côté d’une mosquée. Des associations avaient alors dénoncé un “crime rituel” à l’approche de l’élection présidentielle.
“Pourquoi ôter la vie d’une innocente, d’une fillette de cinq ans? Pourquoi s’attaquer aux albinos? Nous sommes comme tous les autres humains. Nous ne voulons plus voir ça au Mali. Il faut que nos autorités prennent des dispositions, parce que désormais, nous n’allons plus nous taire”, a dit sur scène Salif Keïta.
Chaque année, des dizaines d’albinos sont victimes en Afrique d’attaques, tués et amputés de leurs membres qui sont ensuite utilisés pour des rituels censés apporter richesse et chance.
“Aujourd’hui, tout le monde sait qu’une fillette de cinq ans a été assassinée à Fana parce qu’elle est albinos. Le monde s’est mobilisé pour la cause de ma fille, que ce monde ne baisse plus les bras afin que les albinos puissent vivre en paix partout dans le monde”, a confié à l’AFP, en marge du concert, la mère de la fillette, Diarra Awa Touré.
“Au début je me sentais seule, mais avec ce grand concert et les condamnations faites devant le monde, je ne me sens plus seule”, a-t-elle ajouté.
– ‘Dernier album’ –
Dans l’espace réservé aux invités, juste devant la scène, Ousmane Wélé Diallo, tout de blanc vêtu, explique être venu de Bamako avec sa femme et ses enfants pour “suivre le concert et soutenir notre cause en rendant hommage à Ramata Diarra”. “Je n’aime pas quand il y a trop de lumières, surtout les ampoules géantes de la scène, mais ce soir j’accepte pour notre cause”, ajoute le père de famille, qui comme de nombreux albinos souffre de problèmes de vue.
“Nous sommes ici pour que ce qui est arrivé à Ramata ne se reproduise plus jamais, et cela doit être le combat de nous tous. Plus jamais ça à Fana, au Mali, en Afrique et dans le monde”, a lancé depuis la scène Ismaël Lô. “Personne ne doit sacrifier un albinos pour son pouvoir, personne ne doit vendre les cheveux ou les organes d’un albinos”, a exhorté Safi Diabaté. “Je suis Fana, je suis Ramata, je suis toutes les victimes des ignominies de certains assoiffés de pouvoir”, a ajouté le slameur malien Karim Diallo.
Alors que la soirée est déjà bien avancée, Salif Keïta monte sur scène pour un show de 45 minutes au cours duquel il défend son album “L’autre blanc”, son dernier selon lui, pour lequel il a fait appel à de vieux complices comme l’Ivoirien Alpha Blondy ou la Béninoise Angélique Kidjo, tout en multipliant les clins d’oeil à la jeune génération.
“Je voulais dire au revoir à tous mes fans, parce que si je vais peut-être encore faire de la musique par-ci par-là, je ne prendrai plus le temps de faire un album”, a-t-il confié à l’AFP, estimant avoir “droit à un repos” après 50 ans de carrière.
Saturday night, legendary Malian singer Salif Keïta gave a live concert, presenting his latest album, in Fana, a small town in the south of Mali, where a 5-year old girl with albinism was found dead – murdered – in May of this year. The live concert was in honor of all murdered albinos in Africa and in protest against these horrible crimes. (…)
“We are here to prevent that what happened to Ramata will ever happen again. This is our common struggle. Never again in Fana, in Mali, in Africa, in the world.”, Ismaël Lô shouted on stage. “Nobody should sacrifice a person with albinism to become richer or stronger; nobody should sell the hair or organs of an albino”, Safi Diabaté cried. “I am Fana, I am Ramata, I am the victim of all these atrocities committed by power-hungry people”, Karim Diallo added.
Translated by the webmaster FVDK
«Nous sommes ici pour que ce qui est arrivé à Ramata ne se reproduise plus jamais, et cela doit être le combat de nous tous. Plus jamais ça à Fana, au Mali, en Afrique et dans le monde», a lancé depuis la scène Ismaël Lô. «Personne ne doit sacrifier un albinos pour son pouvoir, personne ne doit vendre les cheveux ou les organes d’un albinos», a exhorté Safi Diabaté. «Je suis Fana, je suis Ramata, je suis toutes les victimes des ignominies de certains assoiffés de pouvoir», a ajouté le slameur malien Karim Diallo.
Alors que la soirée est déjà bien avancée, Salif Keïta monte sur scène pour un show de 45 minutes au cours duquel il défend son album L’autre blanc,son dernier selon lui, pour lequel il a fait appel à de vieux complices comme l’Ivoirien Alpha Blondy ou la Béninoise Angélique Kidjo, tout en multipliant les clins d’œil à la jeune génération.
«Je voulais dire au revoir à tous mes fans, parce que si je vais peut-être encore faire de la musique par-ci par-là, je ne prendrai plus le temps de faire un album», a-t-il confié à l’AFP, estimant avoir «droit à un repos» après 50 ans de carrière.