As attacks on albinos continue to rise in Malawi, the government ordered all police to shoot anyone attacking albinos on the spot.
“Shoot every criminal who is violent when caught red-handed abducting people with albinism,” explained Lexen Kachama, Malawi’s Inspector General of Police. “We cannot just watch while our friends with albinism are being killed like animals every day… We do realize that these people are ruthless, have no mercy and therefore they need to be treated just like that.”
Malawi’s 10,000 albinos are in danger, as witch doctors claim “their limbs make potent ingredients in good luck charms.” In March, Malawi authorities arrested a man for attempted murder of a 16-year-old albino boy. Another man was arrested when he attempted to kidnap his 11-year-old niece. He told cops someone offered him “$6,500 to kidnap her for use in witchcraft rituals.”
The United Nations reported 15 albino attacks in East Africa in the past six months. In Malawi, six attacks occurred in the first ten weeks of 2015. There were only two attacks in 2014 and one in 2013. They also roamed in the Machinga district for victims.
“We are hunted like animals,” exclaimed Boniface Massah, the president of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi. “You are no longer sure you can trust even friends or relatives.”
Albinos in Tanzania faced persecution and death many years before the murders leaked into Malawi. To help end the massacres, Tanzania banned witch doctors entirely in December. Claims by witch doctors led to the deaths of over “70 albino individuals and the disfigurement of countless others.” The country’s albino society said the rich could pay up to $10,000 for albino body parts. A Red Cross report said some will pay “$75,000 for a full set of albino body parts.” In 2012, NPR featured a report about the hard life of albinos in Tanzania. Over 100 albinos faced attacks between June 2006 and 2012, with 71 deaths. Those who did escape were left with injuries and scars.
“But we have to remember that all those goons caught red-handed… are small fish – agents and executors of the big sharks out there,” said Vicky Ntetema, the executive director of Under The Same Sun, a Canadian non-profit organization for albino rights. “Killing them on the spot is not going to help us catch the inducers, those with money to hire these gangs who continue to terrorize innocent people with albinism and their families.”
She wants authorities in East Africa to use these suspects to catch the witch doctors or the people behind the money.
“We all need to unite and find the culprits who are hiding behind the killers,” she continued. “Why would people kill albinos if they were not asked to get their organs by someone?”
Experts believe the crackdown on witch doctors in Tanzania led to the rise of violence in Malawi and other countries. The demand for albino body parts remains high, which means the gangs expand their hunting grounds.