Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has faulted government for not taking interests of persons with albinism (PWAs) at heart as they keep facing injustice including being blocked when they were holding a peaceful march to State House in Lilongwe on Wednesday planned to culminate in three-days of vigils.
PWAs under the banner of Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) took to the streets in the capital Lilongwe in a bid to present a petition to President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace to protests attacks, killings and abductions of PWAs.
CCJP coordinator Boniface Chibwana said it was unacceptable for law enforcers to use heavy handedness against the vulnerable PWAs when they were peacefully expressing their right to demonstrate.
Chibwana said PWAs “deserve protections” from the brutal killing, maiming and abductions that they continue to face for merely having a different skin colour.
“Government is obliged to provide security and ensure the heinous crimes perpetrated against people with albinism come to and end,” he said.
Governance commentator and human rights defender Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that President Mutharika should tread carefully on how he handles PWAs vigils.
“With the harsh experiences which persons with albinism faced on their first day of the vigils which included being soaked in rains and blocked by a heavily armed police on their way to the vigils, Mutharika may be portrayed in the public and international eye as a leader who has no human heart,” Munthali said.
He said the decision by PWAs to hold vigils “in the contest of State’s inaction on the continued killings of persons with albinism is justifiable.”
Munthali said the best Mutharika as a democrat was to respect the manner in which PWAs wanted to express their frustrations.
Despite police block and intimidation, the protestors were undeterred as they chanted ‘Tasala pati? Mungotimaliza [Do we have a reason to live? Finish us off].
Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Timothy Mtambo who helped to organise the protests said it was “legal and peaceful.”
Presidential adviser on local policies Hetherwick Ntaba, who is also chairperson of a committee tasked to fight against abuse of persons with albinism, met the demonstration organisers but some protestors were heard shouting at him “he is compromised.”
Others murmured as they discussed one audio clip which went viral on social media where Ntaba was implicated by one arrested suspect that he is connected to the syndicate.
The demonstrators have since given a 48-hour ultimatum to the President to return from Northern Region where he is on official duties and attend to them as they have temporarily camped at Mkwichi Secondary School, two kilometres away from State House.
“We are giving Mutharika 48 hours to come back. We want him to address the concerns,” said Mtambo on behalf of PWAs.
In Parliament, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) chief whip Jacob Hara, standing on a point of order, asked why PWAs were blocked when the Constitution provides everyone with the right to demonstrate.
Minister of Homeland Security Nicholous Dausi pleaded with the House to give him time to find out what was happening.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :