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APAM threatens vigil at State House

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By Watipaso Mzungu, Contributor:

Association for Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) says it will hold a vigil at the State House to force President Peter Mutharika and his administration find a lasting solution to attacks and murder of persons with albinism.

The association’s president, Overstone Kondowe said they have lost trust in the country’s law enforcement and justice systems; hence, their decision to seek answers from Mutharika on their protection and security.

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“We’re tired of mere assurances that government is working hard to bust the market for body tissues of persons with albinism. We’re tired with empty commitments authorities have been making over our protection and security. We need decisive action to end this vice,” he said.

Kondowe made the remarks in Lilongwe on Friday during a press briefing organised by World Vision Malawi on the abductions, killing of persons with albinism and violence against women.

“We will very soon be holding a vigil at the State House to force the President provide us with concrete answers to our questions on security and protection of persons with albinism. We’ve chosen the State House because that is the only safe and safe place for us to hold a vigil.

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“We want the President to tell us if his government has failed to protect us or not. If they have failed, then they should give us letters to enable us seek asylum in other countries,” he said.

World Vision Malawi Associate Director for Advocacy, Communications and Justice for Children, Charles Gwengwe, demanded a swift and impartial investigation into the abduction of a baby in Karonga last Monday and to bring alleged perpetrators to justice.

Gwengwe said they are concerned that out of 165 cases related to persons with albinism that were reported, only 61 have been completed.

When contacted by Times, State House Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani said stopping albino murders is a collective responsibility.

“The albino murders are happening in the communities often times (at least going by statements by suspects) with the involvement of close family members of the victims who are supposed to be the first line of defence for any individual in our local communities. Deliberately ignoring this pointer in attempts to find a lasting solution to this challenge and opting to accuse the President is not being fair. Politicising the problem will not help matters.

These people are being betrayed by the very same people that are supposed to protect them in the first place, parents, uncles, traditional leaders, investigations are being carried out by the Police, trials and sentences are being handed by the Judiciary: the same community betraying their own sons and daughters is concerned about the betrayals, it is concerned with the speed at which investigations are taking place, it is concerned with sentences courts are handing down on convicts, then they chose to heap the blame on the President?” he said.

Since November 2014, at least 21 people with albinism have been killed in Malawi while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction.

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