Albino Killings in Tanzania

February 8, 2013 - 1,924 views

There have been at least 63 murders of albinos, including children, in Tanzania since 2007, mostly in the remote northwest of the country. Publicity and protests led to a flurry of police work and some convictions. And for a while there was a lull in the attacks. But then they started up again in February, according to Vicky Ntetema of the advocacy organization Under the Same Sun.

“One person, a little boy of 4 was murdered. A man lost a hand, the hand was chopped off. A little girl who is now in hospital, her hand was chopped off and there was an attack with severe injuries when a woman of 33 years of age and a little girl of 12 months old were attacked.”

Albinos have been killed for black magic purposes in Tanzania and albino gilrs are being raped because of a belief they offer a cure for AIDS.

“There is belief that if you have relations with a girl with albinism, you will cure AIDS. So there are many girls with albinism who are being raped in this country because of this belief, which is a false belief,” said Peter Ash, a founder and director of Under The Same Sun (UTSS).

Around 1.4 million Tanzanians among a population of 40.7 million have the HIV virus that leads to AIDS.

Albino hunters kill their victims and harvest their blood, hair, genitals and other body parts for potions that witchdoctors say bring luck in love, life and business.

The last adult albino to be murdered – just a few weeks ago – was Nyerere Rutahiro.

He was eating dinner outside in his modest rural compound, when a gang of four strangers burst in, and threatened to arrest him. As his wife Susannah looked on helplessly, the men began to hack at Nyerere’s arms and legs with machetes.

“We want your legs,” they shouted, “We want your legs,” his wife recalls, still deeply traumatised by what she saw.

Activists last week reported three murders of teenage albino boys from the same family in northern Tanzania, who were poisoned and their bones later robbed from their graves.

The Tanzanian government says it is determined to halt the macabre killings, but has been widely criticised for inaction.

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