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Senator Andreychuk concerned by attacks on persons with albinism ahead of Tanzanian election

Senator Andreychuk expressed concern upon learning of the latest attack on a person with albinism in the lead-up to Sunday’s general elections in Tanzania.

According to Vancouver-based NGO Under the Same Sun, Mr. Mohammed Said, 35, was attacked by three men wielding machetes in his home in Mkuranga Town, some 42 km from Dar es Salaam City Centre. Mr. Said sustained injuries to his head and right ear when the men escaped with a piece of his flesh.

As Tanzanians prepare to head to the polls on Sunday, 25 October, politicians are believed to be among those turning to a form of witchcraft that uses albino body parts to bring good luck. According to the Tanzania Albino Society, at least four persons with albinism have been killed since campaigning officially began on August 23.

“Instead of fuelling this deadly form of discrimination, parliamentarians have a critical role to play in working within their communities to combat prejudice and disinformation, in educating citizens about human rights and the challenges confronting people with albinism in particular, and in advocating tolerance and adherence to the rule of law,” said Senator Andreychuk.

Senator Andreychuk has repeatedly highlighted the ongoing attacks against persons with albinism in East Africa, including as the sponsor of a Motion unanimously adopted in the Senate of Canada last June.

Background

Albinism is a rare, genetic difference present at birth, which causes a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It occurs in members of both sexes, all ethnicities and in every country in the world. Whereas albinism is present in approximately one in 17,000 people in North America, it is much more prevalent in East Africa, affecting as many as one in 1,400 people.

Discrimination against people with albinism is particularly severe in parts of East Africa, where the body parts of persons with albinism have been used in witchcraft.

On June 16, 2015, the Senate of Canada unanimously adopted the following Motion:

That the Senate:

(a) take note of the resolution adopted by the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association on June 3, 2015, and tabled in the Senate on June 11, 2015, concerning the rights of persons with albinism, who are subject to widespread discrimination, and whose body parts have been used in witchcraft, exposing them to murder and mutilation; and

(b) encourage all parliamentarians to

(i) exercise their influence within their communities with a view to combatting prejudice and disinformation with respect to albinism and people with albinism,

(ii) educate their fellow citizens with respect to the multiple layers of human rights challenges — including social marginalization, medical and psychological problems, and confinement to poverty — affecting people with albinism, and

(iii) advocate tolerance and adherence to the rule of law to ensure the rights and safety of persons with albinism and exercise extra vigilance in the lead-up to elections

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Contact: Shaughn McArthur 613-996-4600