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Albinos in Tanzania fear for their lives after exhumation


Vice President of the Albino Association of Malawi Alex Michila, arrives for a regional conference on albinism organised by the United Nations (UN) to discuss potential measures and legislation to protect people with albinism in Africa from discrimination and supertitious attacks, in Dar es Salaam on June 18, 2016. - In Tanzania, as well as in Malawi and some other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, albino body parts are sought after for potions and charms thought to bring luck and wealth, and many fall victim to murderers who dismember their bodies to supply this grisly black market trade. Canadian charity Under The Same Sun (UTSS) has documented 161 attacks on people with albinism in Tanzania in recent years, including 76 murders, more than anywhere else in Africa. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP)

Tanzanian albinos said Sunday they were living in fear for their lives after the remains of an albino were exhumed in what they said was a “bestial” and “barbaric” act.

The Tanzanian Albino Society called on President John Magufuli to “intervene personally and denounce this bestial act and provide financial support for programmes aimed at eradicating this barbarism against albinos.”

In Tanzania and other sub-Saharan African countries, albinos’ body parts are sought after for witchcraft practices because they are believed to enhance luck and wealth.

The remains of Aman Anywelwisye Kalyembe, an albino buried in 2015 in the Rungwe district of the Mbeya region in the south of the country, were exhumed and moved by unidentified individuals during the night of April 23 and 24, the society said.

The incident was “fuelling fear among albinos and their families,” it said in a statement.

It attributed such actions to “superstitious beliefs at a time when we are preparing for (general) elections in 2020.”

Tanzania’s human rights campaigners say that the number of attacks against albinos is in sharp decline, but their graves are increasingly being desecrated instead and their remains exhumed.

A number of such incidents have been reported in different areas of the country since 2016.

Albinism is a genetic condition that results in little or no production of the pigment melanin, which determines the colour of the skin, hair and eyes.

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