Kikwete: barbaric albino attacks must stop

President Kikwete has condemned the recent killings of albinos but activists say lip service is not what they want. Photo: Deghati/IRIN

President Kikwete has condemned the recent killings of albinos but activists say lip service is not what they want. Photo: Deghati/IRIN

Speaking out for the first time on the recent attacks on albinos, President Jakaya Kikwete says the barbaric cruelty has given Tanzania a bad reputation and must be stopped.

“I’m shocked and saddened by the sudden upsurge of these macabre killings,” says Kikwete, describing the recent killings and mutilation as a disgrace to the country committed by uncultured people.

“We all have a noble duty as Tanzanians to prevent these barbaric attacks on fellow human beings. People with albinism are human beings like others. They have the right to live like any other human beings. They are not supposed to live with fear.”

“I want to assure you that the government is determined to bring an end to these killings,” says Kikwete defending his administration, saying they had run successful crackdowns on perpetrators in the past and have been working relentlessly on the issue since he took office in 2005.

“Yes, they’ve done some things, but it’s not enough,” says Under The Same Sun executive director Vicky Ntetema, wondering why very few albino killers who have been convicted of their crimes have been hanged, in accordance with their sentence.

“We’re not happy with they way they are doing things,” says Ntetema, pointing out that was to be the reason for Monday’s banned protest.

“When the country doesn’t hear the voice of the people, we worry. Are we not Tanzanians? Does it not matter that we are being targeted for our body parts?”

Kikwete says he is ‘ready to meet’ with Tanzanian Albinism Society (TAS) leaders this week, despite a State House meeting scheduled for Monday being scrapped along with the protest.

Tanzania has been roundly criticized for it’s treatment of albinos:

“It will ruin the good reputation of the country,” says High Commissioner of Canada to Tanzania Alexandre Leveque, “Tanzania is one the most peaceful countries in the world but at the same time, killings of people with albinism are so high and that undermines the country’s reputation.”

“Whenever one hears of any attack against albinos, one knows exactly that you’re talking about Tanzania,” says Kenyan Member of Parliament Isaac Mwaura, who is himself an albino and says Kenya has tightened security at borders with Tanzania to protect albinos living in Kenya.

Approximately 80 people with albinism have been killed in Tanzania since 2005.

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