News / Africa

Attacks on Albinos Surge in Tanzania

  • On February 11, 2013, Maria Chambanenge, a 39-year-old woman with albinism, was attacked by five armed men, allegedly including her husband, in Mkowe village, Rukwa region, Tanzania. (Under The Same Sun)

  • On February 15, two men chopped off the arm of 10-year-old Mwigulu Matonange in Msia village, Rukwa region, Tanzania. (Under The Same Sun)

  • A group of men almost killed Amadou Diallo in 1994 in Guinea. He is pictured here in Norway, where he sought asylum. Diallo now works for Under The Same Sun, a non-profit that advocates for people with albinism.
  • This file photo shows Said Abdallah, who lost his left hand in a April 10, 2010 attack, in the Morogoro hospital ,Tanzania.
  • This fie photo shows Muadhani Ramadhani weaving an Africa tradition carpet as part of celebrations to mark World Albino Day in Dares Salaam, Tanzania, 2007.
Mary Alice Salinas
Warning:  This story contains graphic content.

The United Nations is expressing alarm at a spate of recent attacks in Tanzania against people with albinism. The body parts of albinos - people who are born without skin pigmentation - are used by witchdoctors in ritual potions meant to bring power and wealth. Four such attacks took place in a 16-day period this year - three of them against children. Police in Tanzania say they are investigating the attacks, and also are appealing to the public to come forward with any information.

The U.N. human rights agency called the latest attacks on albinos "abhorrent." It urged the Tanzanian government to do more to end the violence and discrimination against the group.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
The string of attacks began on January 31 in Tanzania’s central Tabora region.

A group of men chopped off the arm of a seven-year-old albino boy, killing him and the 95-year-old grandfather who tried to shield him.

On February 5, in the northern Simiyu region, armed men attacked the home of a seven-month-old boy with albinism, but he survived thanks to villagers who rallied to protect him. Six days later, in western Rukwa region, five armed men attacked a 39-year-old mother, said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Allegedly one of the armed men was actually her own husband and her left arm was cut off.  She was actually in the house with two of her children.  But she wasn’t killed.  Five suspects were arrested and her arm recovered with the money because the limbs are being sold."

In the same region only four days later, a group of men chopped off the arm of a 10-year-old boy as he was headed home from school.

An especially worrying trend, Colville said, is that the mutilations are taking place while the victims are alive.

"Some people believe the magic is stronger if the victim screams when the attacks take place, and obviously if you kill a person first they don’t scream," he said. "It would explain why you get these people having limbs cut off while they are still alive, which is what happened in I think three of these recent cases."

In Tanzania, where witchcraft is an entrenched practice, some segments of society believe people with albinism are less than human - even phantoms, who do not die but simply disappear. Aside from the discrimination, they face the constant threat of being attacked, mutilated and killed for their blood and body parts for use in witchcraft.

Amadou Diallo, a person with albinism, left Africa after he was nearly killed by armed men in Guinea.  He offered this plea to African leaders and citizens.

“We are different only because we don’t have pigmentation," said Diallo. "Beyond that we are human beings just like them, so we need them to accept us, to integrate us among them, to give us a job when there is a job available, to not discriminate.”

Diallo now works for Under the Same Sun, a Canada-based foundation that advocates for people with albinism, particularly in Tanzania. Founder Peter Ash said the problem exists in more than a dozen African countries.

"Some of the organs are shipped out of the country," he said.  "There is also a cross-border Internet trade of various African countries in these parts. This is not just a Tanzanian phenomenon.”

U.N. officials say they do not know what sparked the string of killings in recent weeks. A large surge in such crimes took place in 2008, when 24 people with albinism in Tanzania were killed for body parts.

In the murky and secretive world of witchcraft, so much remains speculative.  But one thing is clear: a good deal of money is paid out for the body parts, according to Ash.

"The people who are buying these organs are spending thousands of dollars," he said. "The arm or leg of a person with albinism sells for between $2,000 to $4,000. A complete set of organs of a person with albinism sells for over $100,000. Now you have to ask yourself, in such in a black market, who in a poor country like Tanzania has that kind of money? Very, very few people.”

U.S. human rights agency spokesman Rupert Colville urged the government to do more to tackle the problem.

“It’s not really clear why the sudden upsurge, and it’s very worrying, said Colville. "I think it is so abhorrent what is going on here - that people are attacked because of what they look like - that you know the government really does need to make an extra special effort to stamp it out once and for all.”

The Tanzanian government has in fact publicly condemned the attacks in recent years. It has also opened shelters for albino people, and called for the prosecution of witch doctors linked to killings. Those actions are believed to have helped lower the number of attacks - until now.

The U.N. human rights agency and activists are calling for the government to help deter further attacks by aggressively prosecuting witchcraft-related violence. The U.N. says out of 72 documented murder cases since 2000, only five have been successfully prosecuted.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PermReader
March 13, 2013 9:57 AM
This one terrible feature of the " multiculturalism" which leftists spread in the West.Leftist "progressives" thus deny the "progress" of the western culture .


by: Diakite from: China
March 13, 2013 8:35 AM
The main reason of this problem is bad governance. The politicians are essentially the first customers of these dangerous people (witch doctors) just to remain at shifts or seats for long; they are followed by merchants or businessmen just to become richmen without use brain.
I ask to the president of ICC to think to solve this problem by intenational means. The african leaders and lowmakers cannot solve it because they are the first parteners of these betrayers.
Really i feel pity for these victims of barbarties recalling ancient human society. It is a dirty work.


by: Traveler from: worldwide
March 12, 2013 2:17 PM
One sure way to slow this problem is to put a bounty on the heads of all professing witch doctors. These crimes must be dealt with swiftly and without concern for the "rights" of the criminals...otherwise it will continue to plague the countries and people of these developing regions. Although it may seem like a drastic punishment for the criminal, it is not something which can be legislated and controlled with laws. Where there is no immediate access to law enforcement to secure the safety of those affected, local community members must be allowed to arrest, apprehend and execute justice when these types of criminals are caught in the act.

I'm sure this comment will disagree with many people in the West, but if you lived in these areas for a while, you might have a change of thought. These types of criminals are worse than child rapists and murderers...they have no moral balance - only sadistic and debased thought processes.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid