President promises an end to albino killings

TANZANIA’S president, Jakaya Kikwete, has promised to end a wave of killings of albinos, saying the witchcraft-related murders were shaming his East African nation.

Activists say attackers have killed at least 75 albinos in Tanzania since 2000 to use their body parts in rituals.

“We will not allow things to escalate as they did in previous years,” Kikwete said in a national address late on Monday.

“I believe that with close cooperation between the government and society, we will succeed in ending these killings.”

There are about 200 000 albinos in Tanzania, easily recognisable as they lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair.

Witch doctors often tell clients that albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

Similar beliefs exist in other African societies, but activists say attacks on albinos are particularly prevalent in Tanzania.

Tanzanian police on Monday banned a planned demonstration by the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS) in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, citing security reasons, but Kikwete said he had agreed to meet albino leaders next week to discuss possible solutions to the killings.

The murders have been concentrated in gold-rich regions and fishing communities surrounding the country’s Lake Victoria area where superstitious beliefs are rampant.

– Reuters

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