Today 24 April 2003 Act Up-Paris zapped the South African embassy in Paris after the ambassador refused to see them.
Today people all around the world are demonstrating and picketing at South African embassies and consulates, meeting with South African officials, holding press conferences, petitioning and engaging in other actions in support of the demand by South African people-with-aids group Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) for a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
In Japan, 600 paper cranes, symbolizing daily AIDS deaths in South Africa, are being delivered today by demonstrators at the South African Embassy. In the Netherlands, marchers are delivering 600 red tulips and participate in a ‘die in’ at the embassy, while in Los Angeles, Washington DC, London and Milan, 600 pairs of shoes will represent the daily AIDS deaths. Doctors in Kenya will hold a press conference and AIDS activists from all over Latin America have issued a united statement. In addition, solidarity actions are also planned in Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ivory Coast, Venezuela, Jamaica, Namibia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda – and the list continues to grow.
The reason for this global civil disobedience campaign of people with aids and their allies is the need for the South African government to take dramatic action to end the aids crisis in South Africa.
In South Africa, up to five million people are infected with HIV, and AIDS is now killing approximately 600 people every day. Almost no progress has been registered toward the start of treatment programmes since the TAC and government jointly won the lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry, and the subsequent government declaration in favor of ARV treatment on April 17 2002. The delay by government in acting on its own aids fight policies is leading to immense suffering and loss for the most vulnerable of South Africans.
Tomorrow Friday April 25 Deputy President Zuma meets with his French counterpart in Paris. Mr Zuma must make an irreversible and unequivocal commitment to an HIV/aids treatment programme in the public sector. The civil disobedience campaign in South Africa, in France and around the world will stop when the government of this country makes such a commitment.