International Albinism Awareness Day

Ambassador Pittman Remarks
International Albinism Awareness Day
Maputo Municipal Council

I am honored to be able to share this special day with you.  I thank you for your invitation and I thank the organizers for preparing this event as we recognize the contributions of people with albinism to society and seek to increase their protection.  I say “people with albinism” and not “albinos” because we must remember and emphasize the fact that people with albinism – they are not a condition – they are people like you and me.

President Obama invited a group of young, emerging African leaders from across the continent to Washington last August for a Young African Leaders Initiative (aka Mandela Fellowship Program) summit.  During the summit a woman raised the issue of killings of people with albinism and asked President Obama to raise the issue with African leaders.  President Obama condemned the practice of killing people with albinism saying, “It’s infuriating and I have no patience for it.”  The targeting of people with albinism for their body parts is immoral.  It is unjust.  It is cold-blooded murder, pure and simple.

The United States condemns this heinous practice.  We applaud the efforts of organizations like Albimoz, Amor A Vida, and others to provide a sense of community for people with albinism, their families, and friends.  We also applaud the efforts of civil society and the Government of the Republic of Mozambique to educate people about albinism and the humanity of people with albinism.  I would like to commend Attorney General Buchili and the PGR for their vigorous efforts over the past two years to prosecute the criminals who have attacked and murdered people with albinism.  I would also like to recognize the efforts of Minister of Justice Chande ,his ministry,and the judicial system in making sure that those who commit crimes against people with albinism  are prosecuted and sentenced in accordance with the law.  I urge the Mozambican government to do all it can in concert with civil society, not just to protect the physical security of people with albinism, but to help them flourish and reach their full potential as productive participants in society.

In closing, I would like to address those present with albinism in particular.  The United States stands with you.  Today, International Albinism Awareness Day, is a day the whole world is paying attention to our issues.  We, the United States, will not forget you tomorrow.  I have instructed my mission to look for ways that we can support you.  I am proud to say that we will be sending Wiliamo Tomas, President of Albimoz, to the United States later this year on an International Visitor Leadership Program in order for him to share Albimoz’s experience in creating an advocacy organization here in Mozambique in addition to learning best practices from American and Lusophone counterparts.  We will remain engaged on this issue and look for other ways to support the protection of people with albinism.

Thank you very much.