Scapegoats

When Albinos Are Fair Game,
Human Dignity Is Shot Down

There’s another bloody wave of killings of albinos going on in Africa, and once again, superstition and ignorance are behind it. It’s now happening in Malawi but it’s, in every way, equally as brutal as it’s been in Tanzania and other places.
Obviously, many are eager to toss their two cents into the well of possible reasons for the murders. But it all goes down to what Jean Paul Sartre’s play Final Exit proposes: hell is other people. Or, the pathological fear of ‘the other.’
Albinos, as Jews in Nazi German, the Roma in present Europe, or Mexicans and Muslims to a certain U.S. presidential candidate, often play the part of our inner boogeyman, full of the same treacherous intent and magical powers only our own deepest fear possess.
As such, they’re easy targets for unbound racism, prejudice, histeria, and even worst, the illusion that by destroying them we’ll somehow purge all that we consider ‘wrong’ inside ourselves. Make that into a ritual and call it tradition, for legitimacy.
Make it into a market and call it an abomination. According to a 2015 Red Cross report, an albino arm can be purchased for $4,000 in Africa, while the whole body can sell for about $75 thousand, which is usually raised by witch doctors among wealthy, but secretive, customers.
After last year’s staggeringly cruel acts committed against albinos in Tanzania, the United Nations chose June 13 as the International Albinism Awareness Day. It couldn’t come now at a better time, as 18 Malawians are believed to have been bludgeoned to death since 2014.
The brutality of the crimes make it hard to strike a proper balance when it comes to punish them. The Amnesty International, which released a report condemning the murders, has positioned itself against the death penalty for accused killers, as some in Malawi are proposing.
Three years ago, we published the post below which resonated with people in different continents, albino and not so. It seems that we’ll be posting it for a least a few times more. Albinos, who didn’t choose to become a magnet to fascists, may as well serve as symbols to the human dignity we all have the right to pursue and not be killed for it.

THE HUNTED

The Haunted Beauty of Albinos
& the Bigots Who Can’t Bear it

After months of relative peace, the brutal chase was on again back in 2013, when a seven-year old Tanzania boy had his hand chopped off by thugs disguised as spiritual healers. That false beliefs and carnage never cease to fester in such impoverished land is no surprise.
As it’s nothing new that a supernatural being is ‘ordering’ the murder and dismemberment of innocent humans, exacted by the hands of their ignorant priests. But it’s still staggering that what’s essentially an ancient medical condition would incite such unconscionable acts for so long.
We could spend the day here discussing that and many other cases, with their particularly gruesome patterns and all the gory details. Instead, we choose to celebrate what’s considered the ‘otherness’ of albinos who, after all, have to put up with all the limitations of their own condition.

The work and lives of South African models Thando Hopa, and Refilwe Modiselle, Tanzania Albino Society’s Ernest Kimaya, Afro-Brazilian Rosemere de Andrade, the India’s Pullan family, documentarian Harry Freeland, Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda, plus a cadre of highly successful artists and thousands others, only assert the power of their dignity as human beings.
We offer today’s post as a solidarity gesture to albinos everywhere and their plight, not a repulsive patronizing pat on their scared backs, because it’s clear that neither such condition is an impediment to greatness, nor that to stand with Albinos requires preaching and outraged diatribes.
We hope the boy, Mwigulu Magessa, recovers, of course, he being only the latest in what appears to be an increasing series of savage attacks for their supposedly ‘magical‘ flesh. Let’s hope too that TAS gets the resources it needs to go after the culprits and those who cover up for them. In the real world, ignorance should never be a bliss.

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* Photo Retouch

The Deadliest Season

Beware the Newest Growing
Casualty of War: Journalists

While a precarious ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians hangs on the balance, there’s another tragic consequence among the conflict’s casualties: the breakdown of one of most basic precepts of modern warfare, that of the protected role of journalists covering the action.
Coinciding with claims that Israeli forces may have deliberately targeted alleged pro-Hamas reporters at a media center in Gaza, a new International Press Institute report puts at a record 119 the number of journalists killed around the world so far this year while doing their job.
Even though in every war, there’s a gray area intersecting the work of media-accredited reporters with that of P.R. professionals paid by one side or another, according to the Geneva Convention, all parts involved share responsibility over the lives of anyone covering an armed conflict.
Thus, any violation or deliberated attempt to restrict a reporter’s role during wartime is liable to internationally sanctioned punishment. The increased number of journalists being harmed, or even considered enemy combatants in contemporary warfare, should be cause for alarm to everyone who ultimately benefits from their courageous and often unfiltered coverage.
The convention was a civilized agreement, reached by almost all nations around the world in 1949, that aimed at both protecting the profession of war correspondent, and at establishing clear and humanitarian rules of warfare. Perhaps because much has changed since WWII, many governments took upon themselves to rewrite such rules, and the result has been disastrous.

SHOOTING THE MESSENGER
After its aircraft hit two Gaza media buildings on Sunday, wounding eight journalists, Israel first denied that they were the target. Then a military spokeswoman added a disturbing comment, saying that ‘the journalists … were serving as human shields for Hamas,’ which many took as a justification for the action.
It was all the more disturbing since last week, after three news organization employees were killed by Israeli missiles, the same spokesperson had said that ‘the targets are people who have relevance to terror activity,’ a wondrous sentence in its menacing vagueness.
In the 2008-2009 war against Hamas, Israel had already bombed the same buildings it blasted Sunday, under the assumption that Islamist militants were operating out of them. The viciousness of the most recent attacks bodes very poorly for Israel’s public image in the U.S., despite President Obama’s support to its actions.
Even though Israel can boast being one of the few countries in the region where there’s freedom of the press, the international community was aroused by how it chose to frame the argument: that the professionals that were wounded were in fact Hamas militants. That’s because whether they were or not is irrelevant in the context of the bigger issue.

NO EYEWITNESS CAN BE BLIND
The important distinction missing here is that journalists, while reporting for media organizations, have a commitment to be objective and present the facts with accuracy as they see them. Where their personal allegiances lie in the political spectrum should be irrelevant to the quality of their reporting.
Apart from that, they are also entitled to their own opinions, as citizens Continue reading