The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has written President Peter Mutharika to clear his name after an audio clips have gone viral which the Head of State is implicated in the killing of persons with albinism.
In a letter addressed to Mutharika dated February 27 2019, copied to the Chief Justice, Speaker of the National assembly and the Inspector General of Police, HRDC says there has been a lukewarm reaction to the killings of persons with albinism which gives credence to suggestions that the State was involved in the killings.
HRDC said in the letter seen by Nyasa Times that it is shocked and disturbed with allegations from various audios circulating on social media claiming that the President is behind the abductions and killing of persons with albinism in Malawi.
The letter signed by HRC chairperson Timothy Mtambo , Vice Chairperson Gift Trapence and Central Region Chair for HRDC Billy Mayaya said the audio were recorded and shared by suspects who were arrested and are currently in Malawi Prisons “and seem to be revealing who is really behind the albino killings. The audios mention your name,Your Excellency, and other top Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials.”
Reads the letter in part: “We at HRDC consider these allegations leveled against you very serious and grave looking at issues and circumstances of [person with albinism] Killings in Malawi.
“There can’t be silence on this issue especially recognizing that Malawi Government has on several occasions commented on online publications and social media stories.”
HRDC said there has been a public outcry that Mutharika’s office is not doing enough to stop these killings.
“First your government has refused to fund the National Action Plan to stop the killings of people with Albinism. This Action Plan was developed by different stakeholders including security experts with a budget of MK3 billion but so far government has provided nothing to operationalize the Action Plan. Malawians are wondering why Government is frustrating efforts to deal with albino killings.
“Secondly, Malawi Police has failed to uncover the syndicate behind the albino killings despite recognition that our police has well trained professional investigators who can conduct intelligence, follow ups and investigate in all angles to stop the killings.”
HRDC stated that “the feeling is that the government is not supporting Malawi Police to do professional work and there are no expected orders from relevant office to police to uncover this.
“The feeling is that there are deliberate efforts to frustrate police from doing professional work. The police has even failed to provide updates on how the problem started, progress made and how police plan to stop the killings. The public has now lost hope on how the killings will stop as people with albinism continue to be killed, abducted and disappear,” reads the letter in part.
HRDC reminds Mutharika that an expert Report from UNDP revealed that killings of people with albinism escalate during elections period and politicians are some of major perpetrators.
“It is worrisome when some suspects mention your office and you personally. We have noted that some suspects have died in suspicious circumstances including some who are alleged to have committed suicide in Karonga and Mangochi after being picked by police and recently the case of Mr. Buleya Lule who is alleged to have been killed by Malawi Police personnel while in the hands of police at Central Region Police Headquarters, in Lilongwe.”
It continued: “Preliminary autopsy report from Pathologists state that Mr. Buleya Lule was heavily assaulted burnt with hot iron and electrocuted. The images of Mr. Buleya have been shared all over the world. You will note Your Excellency that there is no interest from any state institution to bring to book police officers who were on duty that day and allegedly assaulted Mr.Buleya Lule to death. The suspicion is that Malawi Government is covering up everything as part of the grand scheme to uncover the syndicate behind the albino killings.”
HRDC also said that despite the gruesome killings of people with albinism, adductions and disappearance where so far 19 people have been killed, 14 have disappeared, no government office is being asked to account for these atrocities.
“We find that the Minister of Homeland Security and his Deputy have not been asked to resign or fired. We see that the Inspector General of Police and his Deputies have not been asked to resign or fired while the killings, abductions and disappearances of people with albinism continue.
“In fact there is no update on progress made to stop the killings while these killings, abductions and disappearances escalate to crisis levels every single day. This is raising a lot of suspicions. As a result people with Albinism are resorting to asylum seeking. This is bringing shame to our country Malawi. We are afraid Malawi may be categorized as a country practicing genocide against people with albinism where it may face international crimes investigations,” reads the letter.
HRDC also asks Mutharika to come out publicly come out and comment on the allegations levelled against him within seven days.
They also asked Mutharika to avail himself at the forthcoming National Assembly session to address and answer questions from Members of Parliament on the allegations and his government strategy in dealing with the national crisis.
Governance and rights activist Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that the audio clips circulation on social media are “serious allegations” that the President cannot afford to just sit down and pretend that everything is okay.
“HRDC is acting within the law to demand accountability of President Mutharika and other DPP senior officials implicated in the alleged syndicate on the killings of persons with Albinism.
“The President must clear himself from these allegations lest he be perceived as a chief suspect in these killings following the recent events and his government’s docile, casual approach to these killings,” said Munthali.
He said the demand for President Mutharika to appear before Parliament and answer questions on what his government is doing is not only Constitutional but also timely and realistic.
“With the level at which these killings of persons with albinism has reached the best you can expect from Mutharika is to address the nation through such a platform as Parliament where the people’s representatives can quiz him on what his government is doing to end the killings of persons with albinism.
“Mutharika must rise up and face Parliament and answer questions on the killings of persons with albinism.”
Meanwhile, President Mutharika is set to meet a splinter group of the Association of Persons with Albinism (Apam) calling itself Poor and Concerned People with Albinims (Pacpwa) at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe to discuss how stakeholders can work together to stop abduction, maiming and killing of PWAs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :