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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Under the Same Sun" in the News

The article below was in the This Day Newspaper edition of Tuesday, 27th January, 2009. I have posted it here in its entirety.

Canadian NGO seeks global intervention in albino killings

Dar es Salaam

A CANADIAN organization fighting for the rights of albinos has called for the intervention of the international community to stop the slaughter of people living with the condition in Tanzania.

The ’Under The Same Sun’ organization, whose founder is Canadian businessman Peter Ash, implores all members of civil society around the world to join hands in the cause.

’’Please rise up for human dignity,’’ said Ash, who himself has albinism. ’’Rise up for those being butchered week in and week out. Learn from the holocaust, where too many people took far too long to act.’’

’’The heart-wrenching cry of 170,000 people with albinism in Tanzania is: ’We are being hunted like animals...please help us!’ The global community must therefore act quickly,’’ he added.

Ash also called on media and political leaders to act swiftly so that no more children are mutilated and killed.

The trade in albino body parts in Tanzania is reported to be very lucrative, with one leg yielding up to $2,000 (approx. 2.6m/-). This market in human body parts stems from beliefs promoted by witchdoctors that the blood, hair or other parts of a person with albinism, when combined in a special potion, will make its user rich.

Todate, there have been 41 documented cases of people with albinism being butchered in Tanzania. The local albino community places the murder toll much higher, at approximately 60 cases. Many of those targeted are children - in one reported case the victim was just six months.

Late last year, Ash returned from Tanzania where he had led an international delegation on a fact-finding mission to examine the witchcraft-related murders of Tanzanians with albinism. The delegation met with several senior government officials and presented a petition of over 5,000 signatures from around the world, expressing alarm about the murders.

However, despite government assurances that everything possible is being done to stop these gruesome crimes, the public record shows that there has not yet been a single prosecution of any person apprehended in connection with the murders.

Albinism is a genetic condition causing the absence of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. It affects one in 20,000 people globally. Current local estimates place the incidence of albinism at one in 3,000.

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