By Sharon Kavhu
Windhoek - SADC has condemned the violation of human rights against people living with albinism as the region joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Albinism Awareness Day.
The International Albinism Awareness Day, which is annually celebrated on June 13, was commemorated last week under the theme, “Still Standing Strong” this year. This makes June the month of albinism awareness.
According to the United Nations, this year’s theme was chosen to recognise, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism around the world, and to support their cause, from their accomplishments and positive practices to the promotion and protection of their human rights.
In a statement, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the violation of human rights against people living with Albinism remained an issue of concern.
“We recognise that persons with albinism continue to face violations of their human rights in various forms, ranging from stigma and discrimination, low access to health and education services, as well as, social and political exclusion. It is for this reason that SADC continues to condemn, in the strongest terms, all forms of violations and abuse against persons living with albinism,” she said.
She reiterated SADC’s unwavering commitment to stand in solidarity with persons with albinism around the world.
Media reports show that people living with albinism in the region, particularly in Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique are living in fear as many of them are killed for mostly ritual purposes.
Tax called upon all communities in the region to ensure the protection and upholding of the rights of persons with albinism. She said the communities should help bring to an end all forms of attacks and discrimination against people with albinism.
She said SADC had joined the call for the continued need to educate the public on issues affecting people with albinism to mobilise political will to address the problems they face and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.
“We also applaud the courageous spirit that people with albinism have demonstrated in the face of numerous challenges. We note, with contentment, that despite the numerous challenges that persons with albinism face, they have remained positive and are still standing strong.”
Last month, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) also noted with great concern the ritual killings of people living with albinism in Malawi.
In a post-election observation report, alternative head of SEOM, Kalombo Mwansa, said the killings limited people living with albinism from exercising their rights of freedom of movement and participation in elections.
The report shows that SADC condemns the misguided and cruel beliefs that lie behind the ritual murders and applauded the efforts that the Malawi government had been putting in place to end the criminal practice.