Latest albino killings in Burundi reveal flourishing underground trade in body parts
Posted Thursday, March 12 2009 at 12:56
“They tied up the parents of the albino boy and then chopped off his arms and legs before running away,” a police spokesperson said. “His screaming woke up the entire neighbourhood.”
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From the green hills of Burundi where their poisoned blood pools in the grass, the feet, fingers, arms and toes are taken across the border to Tanzania.
There, a rich underground trade flourishes, where albino body parts are in high demand.
A leg can go for $1,000, with the bones being turned into lucky charms, the blood poured into stews, to do everything from ward off evil spirits to bring luck to fisherman on Lake Victoria.
“The war against these killings becomes all the more difficult because the law does not provide for the existence of witchcraft while individuals do,” says Onesmo Olengurumwa, president of the human-rights association at the University of Dar es Salaam.
As a result, he says, albinos are forced into hiding, rarely attend school, can rarely stay employed, and fear for their lives.
Others don’t even get the chance to live in fear.
One victim of the killings last January was a seven-month old baby girl.