Malawi police yesterday blocked a protest by around 200 albinos who marched to the presidential palace to protest the killing and abduction of people living with albinism.
The group, joined by sympathizers, was stopped outside the parliament building, about a kilometer from Kamuzu Palace, where police formed a cordon to stop them.
Malawi has experienced a spike in violent attacks on people with albinism over the past four years. In many cases those with albinism are targeted for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.
The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi said they are frustrated by government inertia. The vigil was aimed at forcing President Peter Mutharika into action.
According to a programme which Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara released on Friday, Malawi President Peter Mutharika travelled to commission Mzimba Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation Project in the Northern part of the country. Police later allowed the rally to move closer. But the protesters vowed to camp at the palace until the President returns.
This was done despite The Lilongwe City Council (LCC) telling the Association of Persons Living with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) and other civil society organizations (CSOs) that they cannot deliver their petition to State House and should instead deliver it to the city’s civic offices.
“We will not leave the state house until the issues that President Mutharika promised have been fulfilled, including … giving each one of us security alarms,” said the association’s leader Overstone Kondowe.
The alarm gadgets will be linked to police stations and can be activated if an albino is in danger.
An albino is someone who is born with an absence of skin and hair pigmentation. This usually results in an albino having pale hair, eyes, and skin. Some people who are considered to be albinos find the term offensive, although there are many different opinions about this in the community.
In a June 2018 report, rights group Amnesty International said since November 2014 there have been 148 crimes reported against people with albinism that have claimed at least 21 lives.
Only 30 percent of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics, with only one murder and one attempted murder case successfully prosecuted.