1The Sacrifice of Albinos in Order to Become "Invisible" to the Human Eye
Albinism is a genetic disorder that impairs normal skin pigmentation and afflicts more than 200,000 Tanzanians. They are called “muzungu,” which is Swahili for “white man,” or “zeru zeru,” meaning “ghost.” Photo by Flickr user ViktorDobai.
The phenomenon is not limited to Tanzania, of course, as all over Africa, in varying intensity, Albinos are often hunted down and killed by locals under the instruction of witchdoctors. Sometimes it's for “revenge” for natural misfortunes, for use in medicine, or to become “invisible” to the human eye.
The taking of body parts is called “muti,” or potion. People of light complexion are believed to make strong “muti.” It is believed that if a body part is cut while the victim is still alive, then the increased pain makes the “muti” all the more powerful.
The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Albinos in these sectors of the African continent into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to US$75,000 selling a complete dismembered corpse. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.
People with albinism in Tanzania are not only brutally mutilated and tortured, but they're also killed or buried alive with deceased tribal chiefs so as not to leave them in the grave alone.
2The Indian Couple Who Kidnapped and Sacrificed a Child in Order to Have Their Own Child (2003)
In 2003, Madan and Murti Simaru, a married couple from Uttar Pradesh, India, were desperate for a son but nature failed to provide them with one. So, they decided to see a tantric guru. Unfortunately the outcome could hardly have been more shocking.
The guru said that they should kidnap a boy and sacrifice him on the banks of the river.
Acting on the tantrik's instructions, the couple arranged the kidnapping of Monu Kumar, a 6-year-old neighbor. Then, as the tantrik led them in chanting mantras, they mutilated and killed the boy on the bank of an irrigation canal. Mr. Simaru allegedly completed the fertility ritual by washing in the child's blood.
The Simarus already have a daughter, but like countless other couples in this male-dominated society, they yearned for a son to look after them in old age and carry the family name.
The couple was arrested, along with Ms. Simaru's brother, who also participated in the kidnapping.
3The Bangladeshi Man Who was Beheaded by Laborers to "Redden Bricks" After a Fortune Teller Suggested a Sacrifice (2010)
In March 2010, the owners of a brickyard in Bangladesh became concerned that bricks were losing their sought-after reddish hue, so they decided to consult a fortune teller.
The seer suggested that the brickfield needed a "human sacrifice." Therefore, the owners ordered four of their workers to kill one of their fellow laborers. The victim, a 26-year-old man, was killed and his head was baked in a oven.
Of course, the four workers, the owners, and the fortune teller were arrested and prosecuted for murder.
4The Farmers Who Killed a Girl and Removed Her Liver as an Offering to Ensure a Better Harvest (2011)
In October 2011, Lalita Tati, a 7-year-old Indian girl, was dismembered by Ignesh Kujur and Padam Sukku, two farmers who killed the girl and removed her liver as an offering in a ritual sacrifice to ensure a better harvest.
The men were described as "tribals," a term referring to the region's indigenous people, most of whom remain mired in poverty and illiteracy. If a victim is under 12 years of age, then local mythology believes that crops will flourish following a sacrifice.
However, the remorse-filled farmers wrote to Lalita's father, allegedly confessing and offering cash in compensation for the loss of his daughter. Of course, the tribal-murderers were prosecuted for the crime.
5The Liberian Commander Who Practiced Human Sacrifice and Cannibalism to Increase His Power (1979-1993)
Milton Blahyi is a former feared rebel commander in Liberia's brutal civil war who was initiated as a tribal priest and participated in his first human sacrifice at the age of eleven. During the course of the ritual, Blahyi says that the "Devil" told him that he would become a great warrior and that he should continue to practice human sacrifice and cannibalism to increase his power. Later, the Krahn elders appointed him as high priest, a position that would lead him to become the spiritual advisor to Liberian President Samuel Doe.
Blahyi stopped fighting in 1996, saying God appeared to him and told him that he was doing Satan's work. So, he became an Evangelist preacher. Now, Blahyi, 42, is the President of the End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries Inc., with headquarters in Liberia.
There are numerous rumors of human sacrifices during the 1979-93 conflict, but Blahyi was never punished for his crimes. The Truth Commission's only mandate was to investigate the crimes. The International Criminal Court in The Hague only has jurisdiction over crimes that have been committed since it was founded in 2002.
6Mapuche Indians Who Sacrificed a Boy in Order to Placate Continuing Quakes in Chile (1960)
In July 1960, the continuing quakes in southern Chile forced Mapuche Indians of the Lago Budi community to sacrifice a boy between the age of five or six and offer his heart to the sea in order to placate the gods. When police arrested two of the Indians, they explained, "We were asking for calm in the sea and on the earth." Of course, the calm did not come.
According to investigative journalist Patrick Tierney in his book The Highest Altar: Unveiling the Mystery of Human Sacrifice, the child-victim, José Luis Painecur, had his arms and legs removed, and his body was stuck into the sand of the beach like a stake. The waters of the Pacific Ocean then carried the body out to sea. On that occasion, Juan Pañán and Juan José Painecur (the victim's grandfather) were accused as perpetrators of this terrible fact.
The sacrifice was rumored to take place at the behest of local machi Juana Namuncurá Añen. The two men were charged with the crime and confessed, but later recanted. They were released after two years. A judge ruled that those involved in these events had "acted without free will, driven by an irresistible natural force of ancestral tradition."
7The Stoning to Death of Adulterers in Iran
Upon browsing through the internet, one will find that the practice of human sacrifice by several different cultures or religious groups throughout the world to appease the gods, or God, flies in the face of religious idealism.
Unfortunately, in Iran the act of stoning is cloaked in religion since it specifically falls under the dictates of “God's law” for the purpose of fulfilling or abiding by God's will, which makes it a human sacrifice.
Stoning is a recognized form of execution under Iran's penal code, which is based on Islamic Law. Considering that the Quran does not mention stoning as a prescribed method of execution, the practice finds its legality under Iran's debatable interpretation of Sharia law, which is considered by Muslims to be God's law.
So how is stoning carried out? After the convicted individual, who is a female in the vast majority of cases, is wrapped in a white shroud from head to toe and buried in a hole up to her breasts, rocks are then thrown at her head until she dies. Article 104 of Iran's Penal Code specifically states that the appropriate stones for carrying out the killing “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.” According to reports, anywhere from ten to thirty minutes of pelting the victim's head with rocks by a group of citizens usually accomplishes the goal.
One of the most famous cases is that of Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani, a forty-three-year-old mother of two who was convicted of adultery by an Iranian court and was sentenced to death by stoning in 2006. The international publicity, generated through her children, led to numerous diplomatic conflicts between Iran's government and the heads of certain western governments. As a result, her execution has been stayed indefinitely.
8Two Thousand Children Who were Allegedly Sold to Russia and Buried Under the Rails in Order to Strengthen Them (19th century)
The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings – a sacrifice to "ground" the building and assuage the gods of earthquakes, floods, and other misfortunes – was well established in ancient and even medieval times. However, nowadays we run into this extraordinary legend about the nineteenth-century Chinese and Russian railway.
According to the legend, as the Siberian Railway approached the northern boundaries of the Chinese Empire, a great amount of excitement was produced in Pekin by the rumor that the Russian minister had applied to the Empress of China for two thousand children to be buried in the roadbed under the rails in order to strengthen it.
The "rumor" can probably be brushed gently to one side, though it says a lot about nineteenth-century China that such a rumor could grow to maturity. Or is this just Russians barbarizing the Chinese with tall tales?
9The Oklahoma Virgin Who was Nearly Sacrificed to Save the World When Halley's Comet Came (1910)
Perhaps the most intriguing story surviving from the visit of Halley's Comet in 1910 concerns the Oklahoma virgin who was nearly sacrificed to save the world when it came in contact with the Comet's tail. The sheriffs arrived just in time to prevent the sacrifice of a virgin by demented Americans calling themselves "Select Followers."
The story first appeared on May 19, 1910 in at least two newspapers far from the alleged scene of the action in Aline, Oklahoma. However, data didn't match concerning the young lady's age, the place where she was found, and the clothes that she was wearing (or lack thereof). The position of the Oklahoma Historical Society is simply stated. “None of the above considerations confirm or deny the Jane Warfield story.”
It is difficult to prove that something DID NOT happen, but when ALL of the existing evidence is negative, then we can be fairly positive that it did not, but the rumor is in the air.
10The Alleged Dark Secret of the Song "London Bridge is Falling Down"
"London Bridge Is Falling Down" is a traditional nursery rhyme and singing game which is found in different versions all over the world. Several theories have been advanced to explain the meaning of the rhyme and the identity of the "fair lady" of the refrain. One of these was based on the idea that the bridge would collapse unless the body of a human sacrifice was buried in its foundation. So "the watchman" of the refrain is actually a human sacrifice who will then watch over the bridge. However, there is no archaeological evidence of any human remains in the foundation of London Bridge.
It's believed that this rumor was started by Alice Bertha Gomme, a leading British folklorist and a pioneer in the study of children's games between 1894 and 1898, and perpetuated by Iona and Peter Opie, a husband-and-wife team of literature folklorists who applied modern techniques to children's literature using this song.