Activists in South Africa, U.S., Canada Demand Firing of South Africa's Health Minister
Pickets and Delivery of Letters to Embassy and Consulates in DC, NY, LA, Chicago, Ottawa
August 24, 2006
Nationwide protests began in South Africa, the United States and Canada today in response to a call for global action from South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) -- an activist group led by people living with HIV/AIDS. In New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Ottawa AIDS activists picketed at South African embassies and consulates, and delivered massive "pink slips" calling for the dismissal of South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Tshabalala-Msimang has attracted international criticism for her failure to lead, claims that HIV does not cause AIDS, claims that nutritional remedies such as garlic are effective as anti-HIV drugs, and inaction while 800 people in South Africa die daily from AIDS.
The activists also demanded the development of a national AIDS plan and the immediate compliance with an order by South African courts to treat HIV positive prisoners, many of whom are seriously ill and at risk of death. "Instead of leadership, the South African government is responding to AIDS with a deadly concoction of inaction and quackery," said Brook Baker of Health GAP.
UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis recently called the actions of the South African government, "more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state."
In South Africa, more than 1,000 new infections occur every day and more than 800 deaths occur every day. Last week 45 members of the TAC were arrested after taking over government offices to protest the preventable deaths of people in South African prisons denied access to AIDS treatment despite a court order.
Organizations in the United States and Canada endorsing these protests include: Student Global AIDS Campaign, ACT UP Philadelphia, Health GAP, Global AIDS Alliance, Housing Works, African Services Committee, Africa Action, DC Fights Back!, Priority Africa Network, Friends of TAC-North America, Students Against Global AIDS, Canadian Treatment Action Council, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group. Visit www.tac.org.za for more information.
This article was provided by Treatment Action Campaign.