Edward Snowden is pretty well known. He became very unpopular to the US government in 2013 when he copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) without prior authorization.
The documents that he leaked revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.
Human Rights Day was recently celebrated on the 10th of December and Edward Snowden who has lived in exile in Russia since 2013 wrote a letter to a Malawian girl living with albinism, as part of a day of action to use the power of words to write in defense of human rights.
People living with albinism in Malawi and some other African countries often fear for their lives because of a superstitious belief that their body parts contain magical powers that bring wealth, good luck and cure HIV. Since November 2014, attacks against albinos in Malawi have increased according to Amnesty International.
The organization released a report earlier in the year that showed that the Malawi Police Service reported 69 cases involving crimes related to people with albinism, including the killing of 18 and the abduction of five others. There were even cases where graves were dug up to get the body parts of the now dead individual.
Edward Snowden addressed his letter to one Malawian girl in particular who he called Annie, but is featured on Amnesty International’s website as Alfred. He discusses his exile with Alfred while telling her that “It is shameful that people are being persecuted for being different,”. He goes on to say; “Your differences are not weaknesses, they are strengths.”
— AmnestyInternational (@AmnestyOnline) December 10, 2016
The letter was published online by the human rights advocacy group, Amnesty International. Amnesty wrote that Alfred is sometimes called a “ghost” or “money,” and urged governments to protect people with albinism.
Edward Snowden empathizes with Alfred in his letter, saying that “No child should fear that her liberty to participate and live as she desires is subject to the superstition and prejudice of others.”
He then leaves her with some words of encouragement:
“Embrace the thing that separate you from the crowd of the ordinary, and never stop defending the right to be different, no matter how difficult the times. Each of us is a treasure of the earth, and perhaps you most of all.”
To sign Amnesty International’s petition to the President of Malawi to protect people living with albinism, go here.