LIVES OF PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM IN MALAWI IN DANGER
National Coordinator for the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) Bonface Ophiyah Masssah carries a poster calling on the public in Malawi not to discriminate persons with albinism at Traditional Authority Kaphukaâs court in Dedza District, central Malawi, after a meeting of UN Women Board President, Ambassador Ivana Pajevic and people with albinism under the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), May 7, 2018. People with albinism in Malawi are living in fear for their dear lives and actually they are under threat of extinction if authorities and the international community do not put up much effort to curb the barbaric and superstitious acts of killing the innocent people just because they have a different skin tone from that of the majority of black Malawians. The difference comes about due to lack of a skin pigment melanin in the people with albinism making their skin light toned. Misconceptions about this difference lead to superstition among black toned Malawians and they think that the light colour people with albinism have is due to presence of gold in the bones as such people with albinism are being murdered and their bones removed to be sold to markets unknown until now. At least 22 murders have been confirmed and 146 cases have been recorded so far of violation against the right to life of albinos through wounding inflicted on them by their black skinned counterparts seeking the purported gold in their bones. National Coordinator for the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) Bonface Ophiyah Masssah speaking after a meeting with the UN Women Board President, Ambassador Ivana Pajevic said people with albinism in Malawi are living in a dangerous environment. âYes the context of malawi as a person with albinism is more or less a death trap to us because you are not so sure what will happen. He said a very sophisticated syndicate of criminals was involved in this bad act and the country needed a lot of investment in investigations and also needed concrete leadership in terms of the police and the political leadership âbecause we need the system that respond, we need the system that preventâ. He added: âCurrently we are like depending on our own as people with albinism but we donât have that mechanism to do self defence. Even now, when I am speaking here, we do not know who my enemies are. So, that makes it very complicatedâ. He said though his association has done awareness campaigns and provided civic education there are still pockets of individuals who are still feeling that people with albinism are not human beings and these people include relatives of the victims. âSo, itâs really a dangerous environment for persons with albinismâ, said Massah pointing out that none of the 22 confirmed murder cases have gone to court. âWhen people see us, they tell each other that âlook, there goes moneyâ, said a mother of four, Lonesi Libeyasi referring to verbal abuses albinos in Malawi are subjected to. Several People have been arrested for either killing or wounding people with albinism and most recent arrests included a policeman, a medical practitioner and a priest alleged to have taken part in the killing of 22 year old Macdonald Masambuka in Machinga District in the eastern region of Malawi. PHOTOS AMO/ AMOS GUMULIRA
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