Here is an article explaining that albinos are hunted "on the hoof in the streets" by those who sell their body parts for witchcraft, and so it is a regional problem crossing country lines. People, you have to take this seriously. First of all the USA is not so far from this mindset when people look to buy body organs from countries who take them from prisoners. Second, new agers love to "push" the "traditional beliefs" of ancient pagan times, and this is what one is in danger of opening up when you do so.
Albinos in the country of Burundi in eastern Africa are in danger and seeking refuge in an official's safehouse, Agence France-Presse reports today.
In recent weeks, Ruyigi province has seen a gruesome string of murders and mutilations of albinos, whose body parts are sold to witch doctors.
For background information, the Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu tribes have occupied Burundi since the country's formation five centuries ago. Germany and Belgium occupied the region at the beginning of the 20th century, and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. While it remains a tribal culture, the Europeans did make an impact as 62% of Burundians are considered Roman Catholic, 8-10% are Muslims and the rest follow indigenous beliefs and other Christian denominations. Witchcraft is still highly prevalent.
"People say that the body parts taken from albinos are sold in Tanzania. They put them on gold mines and that brings the gold to the surface, then you just need to collect it," Richard Ciza, a 19-year-old albino, said, fear evident in his pale blue eyes.
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"Some fishermen also use the parts to bait large fish they think have gold in their bellies."
Still in shock, Ciza spoke to AFP from the safety of Ruyigi province chief prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare's personal residence.
The official's home has been turned into an albino safehouse, surrounded by a three metre wall, where some 25 albinos from the all over the region have taken shelter.
"We held a crisis meeting with the administration, the police, local MPs and people representing the albinos... We've decided to gather all 45 known albinos in Ruyigi to guarantee their security," Gahimbare said.
On Sept. 22, a 16-year-old albino girl by the name of Spes was attacked in her village of Nyabitsinda.
She was dismembered and her body parts disappeared. A few days later, it was the turn of a man in the village of Bweru. Officials have reported two other recent murders in other parts of the country.
Police have established that the limbs, organs and blood of the albinos were smuggled into neighbouring Tanzania and sold to local sorcerers who use them to concoct lucky charms.
Northern Tanzania has been plagued by grisly incidents involving witchcraft. The phenomenon has reached such proportions that the country's president has had to launch a special protection program.
Demand is such in Tanzania that albinos across the region now feel threatened.
Albinos in Ruyigi province, where witchcraft is deeply entrenched, are more at risk than others.
Ephrem, an eight-year-old boy from Nyabitsinda, walked for more than 10 kilometres with his father to reach the prosecutor's safe house in Ruyigi town.
"Just because of their skin colour, they are being hunted on the grounds that have a commercial value in the eyes of some people," said his father Protais Muzoya, a father of 10, two of them albinos.
"Not very far from our home, some criminals killed a young girl who looks like my children. They cut her arms off and collected all her blood and I'm very scared for my children," he said, holding his son's hand.
As the worried father recounted the girl's death, a car pulled up in front of them to offer a lift to Ruyigi but Ephrem panicked, kicking and screaming, refusing to get into the stranger's vehicle.
"My son is in a constant state of terror since he heard what happened. When he walks in the street, some people say things like 'Our fortune goes by'," said Protais, politely turning down the perplexed driver's offer.
The handful of albinos in the region have had to close ranks and often exchange stories and survival tips.
Albinism is a congenital lack of the melamin pigment in the skin, eyes and hair which protects from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Albinos are vulnerable to medical complications and social discrimination in Africa.
But while they once had to hide only from the sun and jeers, albinos in Tanzania and Burundi are now running away from a more macabre menace.
"The threat against albinos is very real. Richard Ciza for example was chased by four murderers armed with rifles and had to hide in the forest for two days," Gahimbare said.
"These people say they can earn 600 million Tanzanian shillings [US$500,000] from the body of one albino," he said.
"The fate of albinos should become a national preoccupation because it has spread far beyond the borders of our province. What is happening is terrifying because albinos are now looked upon as a commercial good."