Amnesty International published a report yesterday exposing the number of albinos being targeted and systematically killed in brutal rituals across Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Amnesty International blames police for failing to tackle the increase of deaths fueled by ritual practices that has cost at least 18 people with albinism their lives in Malawi since November 2014.
Malawi police said they had recorded at least 69 crimes against people with albinism since November 2014, and some 39 cases of illegal exhumation of the bodies of people with the condition have also been reported, according to Yahoo News.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa, blames the authorities for not doing enough to stop the brutal albino killings.
“Malawian authorities have dismally failed them, leaving this population group at the mercy of criminal gangs who hunt them down for their body parts.”
“The unprecedented wave of brutal attacks against people with albinism has created a climate of terror for this vulnerable group and their families who are living in a state of constant fear for their lives,” Muchena said.
Five people are currently missing after being snatched, and those being targeted include women and children.
The report published by Amnesty International is titled “We are not animals to be hunted or sold: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi,” and it paints an ugly picture of fear, killings and the people targeted and hacked apart for witchcraft.
Witch doctors and many locals believe that body parts of albinos bring good luck and wealth when turned into potions or charms. They also believe that having sex with albino women, called Machilitso (cure), will cure HIV, according to Toronto Sun.
One woman told Amnesty International that family members are usually behind the chilling attacks.
“Most people who attack [people with albinism] are close relatives…I met one mother in Chitipa who was hiding her children out of fear. As a result, the children were not going to school,” she said.
Some people are taking retribution into their own hands due to the lack of support from police. In March 2016 a mob burnt to death seven men in the Nsanje district bordering Mozambique because they were suspected of trafficking body parts of people with albinism.
Amnesty International said that there has been an increase in albinos being targeted and killed since November 2014 and the bloodiest month ever was this year. Amnesty International recorded four albino murders in April 2016. This is only the cases reported; most killings are not recorded due to bodies not being found and the secretive nature of rituals in rural areas, according to Vanguard.
Some of the documented cases of recent albino deaths include:
- Whitney Chilumpha, who was just under two years old when she was snatched while sleeping with her mother in their home. Pieces of her skull, some teeth and clothing were found days later on a nearby hill.
- Two-year-old Iblah Pilo,who was abducted at night in January 2015. His mother woke up to the cry of the child but could not save him, his body has not been found.
- 17-year-old Davis Fletcher Machinjiri, was abducted and trafficked to Mozambique in April where he was killed. Both his arms and legs were chopped off and his bones removed.
- The body of Enelesi Nkhata, a 21 year-old woman, was found by farmers buried in a shallow grave on 14 April 2016. She had been tricked by a relative, only to be stabbed in the chest and have her arms and legs cut off.
- On 30 April, Jenifer Namusyo, a 30 year-old woman, was found dead. She had been stabbed in the back, abdomen, and elbow, and her breasts and eyes had been removed.
7,000-10,000 Malawians currently have albinism, a hereditary condition that causes an absence of pigmentation in the skin, and Amnesty International has called on the government of Malawi to take measures to ensure their protection.
Boniface Massah, Director of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi, is also calling for more acceptance and understanding of albinos and hopes that this will stop the brutal killings.
“Malawians need to reflect on a fresh understanding of the hardships experienced by this vulnerable group and ensure that people with albinism are accepted.”
[Photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Photo]