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Albino Killings - Obama Asked to Put Pressure on Kikwete

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by mstahiki, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. m

    mstahiki JF-Expert Member

    Feb 5, 2010
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    Ray Naluyaga

    Congressman files a members statement to compel the US government to act

    An American Congressman wants President Barack Obama to put diplomatic pressure on the Kikwete Government to end the albino killings in parts of the country.

    Mr Gerald Connolly, who is a member of Mr Obama's Democratic Party, has filed a statement in the United States House of Representatives, seeking support to compel the President and the State Department to act.

    His move follows his meeting in the United States with Ms Mariamu Stanford, the Tanzanian woman, who was brutally attacked in Mwanza in 2008, losing both arms. Her plight has seen her become the human face of the campaign against the barbarism by some superstitious people.

    The American politician is using the opportunity to raise international attention on the menace in Tanzania, in which over 50 albinos have been killed in the last four years in an orgy fuelled by witchcraft-related beliefs. Some 28 albinos were slaughtered in 2008 alone, according to official government figures.

    The Congressman says in a statement he filed last month that Tanzania must stop the crimes against humanity and step up education to dispel the myth that the body parts of albinos have supernatural properties that can make people wealthy overnight or enable fishermen to catch more fish.

    He wants official recognition of the plight of people with albinism in East Africa, condemnation of their murder and mutilation, and efforts to bring "the heinous and misguided behaviour against defenseless women and children" to end.

    Even though the impact of the expected resolutions might not be made public or bear immediate results, it is generally believed that if adopted, the US Government will have to consider this in its relations with Tanzania.

    During his visit to Tanzania late last year, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, decried the killings and urged the government to move swiftly to arrest the situation.

    The members of the European Union have also adopted a special resolution to condemn the murders and demand action from Tanzania and Burundi, the two most affected countries in the region.

    Yesterday, asked to comment on Mr Connolly's statement, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mr Seif Ali Iddi, said the government had not been made aware of its outcome.

    Mr Connolly, who is serving his first term in the Congress, is from Virginia's 11th District, which encompasses Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Fairfax City in Northern Virginia.

    He also serves on the House Budget Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

    After his meeting with the Tanzanian survivor, Mr Connolly said he had been saddened to learn that though Mariamu had identified her attackers, they had not yet been arrested and charged with the offence.

    During her stay in the US, Mariamu and fellow albinos from Northern Virginia met with Mr Connolly, who pledged to introduce a House Resolution, condemning the attacks on people with albinism in East Africa, and to work with American and Tanzanian government officials to stop the killings.

    Mariamu travelled to the US last December for two weeks and was fitted with artificial arms donated by Mr Elliot Weintrob of Orthotic Prosthetic Centre in Fairfax, Virginia, and she also underwent intensive physical therapy.

    She also met Ms Susan DuBois, who has since formed an organisation in her name and dedicated it to ending the slaughter of people with albinism in East Africa.

    The "Asante Mariam" organisation launched in Virginia last week will campaign to increase awareness of the immediate and long-term threats to albinos East Africa.

    "As a mother of two children with albinism, I was deeply shaken when I first heard about the killings in Tanzania," said Ms DuBois, the founder and executive director of "Asante Mariamu."

    In his statement, a copy of which was made available to The Citizen, Mr Connolly says that not only do people with albinism face violence in parts of the world, but they also are at a higher risk of medical complications, such as skin cancer and poor vision due to the lower melanin levels in their skins.

    He said few schools in East Africa had the resources to provide for the needs of children with albinism.

    Mr Connolly added: "Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has condemned the violent crimes against people with albinism, but judicial and enforcement barriers remain."

    In his New Year's address to the nation, President Jakaya Kikwete said the nation that the government would step up efforts to stamp out the albino killings.

    Last year, he added, there were seven albino killings compared to 27 in 2008, during which more than 30 attacks were reported. "These are still too many to bear, not a single albino is worth death for his skin," Mr Kikwete said.

    He said that information obtained through a national campaign to expose the killers in a secret ballot was helping security personnel to pursue the culprits.

    Courts in Kahama and Shinyanga last year convicted and sentenced seven albino killers to death. Scores of other suspects are still awaiting trials.

    An albino organisation has called for hanging in public of those sentenced to death to demonstrate the government"s seriousness and deter others. However, human rights bodies have oppose the death sentence, which they denounced as outdated, declaring that it would not solve the problem.

  2. k_u_l_i

    k_u_l_i Senior Member

    Feb 5, 2010
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    Good call - it's about time to put and end to this madness.
  3. Saint Ivuga

    Saint Ivuga JF-Expert Member

    Feb 5, 2010
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    why not+mafisadi?