Monday, March 02, 2009

"Halting the slaughter of Albino innocents"

Photo description: Albino children take a break on Jan. 25, 2009 in a recreational hall at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind, which has become a rare santuary for albino children.

Following is an excerpt from this story in Canada's National Post about the killing of albino people in Tanzania for their body parts, and the efforts of philanthropist Peter Ash's foundation Under the Same Sun to help stop them. According to official numbers, at least 45 albino people have been killed but the real number may be closer to double that. See also this earlier article in the New York Times.

To the vicious hunters of northwestern Tanzania, she is "zeru zeru" -- invisible, inhuman, a ghost.

Under cover of darkness, a group of men charge into young Viviana's room in the middle of the night, pin her pale form immobile, and hack off one of her little legs as her sister screams in horror.

Viviana, shockingly, is among the lucky ones. The commotion draws the attention of neighbours, and the attackers slip off into the night without finishing the job. She is left an amputee, but alive.

The single albino leg will fetch upwards of $1,000 in a gruesome market controlled by powerful Tanzanian witch doctors, who grind the bones into potions and repurpose them as good luck charms for struggling miners and fishermen.

The story sounds apocryphal, yet albinos are shunned and subject to social discrimination in many parts of Africa. There are reports of albinos being murdered in Burundi, and in Tanzania many albinos fear being kidnapped, dismembered, murdered.

The full story here ...