Tanzania's first elected albino lawmaker: 'We deserve rights' - CNN


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Tanzania's first elected albino lawmaker:
'We deserve rights'
November 10, 2010 | From Mwondoshah Mfanga, for CNN

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Tanzania's first elected albino lawmaker says his win
is a major victory for the embattled minorities who
are targeted for body parts believed to have special
Salum Khalfani Bar'wani won a seat in the southern
part of the country last week.

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The lawmaker said he plans to pressure the
government to enact laws to protect albinos and
other minorities.

Tanzania's first elected albino lawmaker Salum Khalfan
Bar'wani greets supporters in the southeastern
Tanzanian town of Lindi on November 4.

"I am going to fight for their [albino] rights first and
foremost," Bar'wani said. "But besides that, I shall
also fight for the rights of other people with disabilities -- like those with impaired vision and hearing."
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Albinism is a genetic condition that leads to little or no pigment in the eyes, skin and hair.
Body parts of albinos are sought in some regions of Africa, where some believe they bring wealth and
good luck.
Attackers chop off their limbs and pluck out their organs, which are sold to witch doctors.
"It is a thriving business ... witchdoctors are asking business people to bring the body parts of albinos,
who are not considered human beings," said Franck Alphonse, director of the Tanzania Albino Center.
Bar'wani said he will work to abolish the stereotypes associated with the condition. He hopes human
rights activists, religious leaders and lawmakers will team up to help shift attitudes toward albinos.
"My agenda shall be to ask the government to educate the society on the misconceptions that one
could get rich quickly merely by possessing albino parts," he said. "We deserve the rights we are
fighting for .... we need to be recognized as part of this society and live like other human beings."
Tanzania has seen a rise in the killings of Albinos, forcing some with the condition to flee to
neighboring countries. Dozens of albinos, including children, have been killed in the east African nation
in the past two years.
Government officials have said they are educating police officers to help address albino killings, but
admit it is hard to quell the attacks.
Most happen in rural areas, where there is limited police presence, said Lucca Haule, a police official in
the northern part of the country, where albinos are also targeted.
"We don't have the resources in those places ... it is not easy, but we are trying to map out locations

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-11-10/world/tanzania.albino.lawmaker_1_albinos-body-parts-c... 5/3/2011

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