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Albinos see hope for protective law in Tanzania

From Mwondoshah Mfanga, For CNN
  • First person with albinism elected to the National Assembly
  • Albinos want laws to ensure their safety and access to good jobs
  • Some in Tanzania believe body parts from albinos have special powers

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (CNN) -- Now that there is a representative in the National Assembly with albinism, albinos hope to propose a law to ensure that the government guarantees their welfare and security, a representative said Wednesday.

Hemed Said Lutunda, a regional chairman for the Tanzania Albino Society, said the association will put more pressure on the country's lawmaking body to see that stern laws are enacted to secure their lives and to ensure that they get good jobs, homes and education.

In recent years, there has been an increase in Tanzania and neighboring Burundi in the deaths of albinos -- who have no pigmentation in their skin or hair -- by sorcerers who want their body parts to make charms that they claim will bring good luck.

A carpenter by profession, Lutunda was speaking from Lindi Township in southeast Tanzania after the election Sunday of Salum Khalfani Barwani, who is the first elected albino member of parliament in the nation's history. A special representative for people with albinism had previously been appointed.

Barwani, currently a trade officer in Lindi Region, was elected on the ticket of the opposition Civic United Front in Sunday's national election, in which the ruling party, CCM, lost 51 seats.

The former secretary general of the Tanzania Albino Society, Samwel Mluga, described Barwani as a very able person who could use his position to fight for rights of fellow albinos.

Barwani has made statements to local media indicating he plans to do what he can for albinos.

In 2009, the government embarked on a campaign against the killers of albinos, particularly in the Lake Victoria region in the northwest part of the country. In a secret vote conducted by the government last year, several suspects were arraigned and convicted of murder. Some were sentenced to death.