Monday afternoon’s protest against the unchecked mutilation and killing of albinos in Tanzania has been banned by police.
While police initially agreed to let the peaceful demonstration march from Ocean Road Hospital to the State House, Under The Same Sun Executive Director Vicky Ntetema confirms that it has since been banned.
“They say it’s because the President is engaged with other activities and he would not be there to receive the demonstrators,” says Ntetema.
A meeting of key activists with President Jakaya Kikwete had also been arranged by the State House in advance of the protest, but Ntetema says that has also been cancelled.
Ntetema says it’s a move that sends the wrong message in the wake of the gruesome kidnapping and killing of albino children, including toddler Yohana Bahati, who was found with his arms and legs hacked off last month.
“When the country doesn’t hear the voice of the people, we worry. Are we not Tanzanian? Does it not matter that we are being targeted for our body parts? Why is it so difficult for someone from the government to come out with a statement?”
These are the questions government leaders don’t want to hear or be heard, says Ntetema.
“This is the time when we need to come together and speak as one voice. When people stand up for their rights the world hears. ”
While the government has slowly started some legal action against albino killers, it’s nowhere near enough, says Ntetema.
“When a person with albinism has been murdered or mutilated, the government is numb. You don’t hear leaders from the central government decrying the kidnapping, the mutilation or the killing. Nobody at the top says anything. It’s something that the government has to be ashamed of.”
Police have reportedly told protest organizers to try to hold the protest again at a later date.