LET US BE HEARD
Yesterday, December 5, 2017, HIV activists from around the world were prohibited from peacefully demonstrating at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2017) in the Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire in Côte d’Ivoire. Hotel and conference security forcefully prevented activists from entering the conference venue, both at the time of the demonstration and for five hours after.
Activists – who had assembled to protest unfair patent barriers being implemented by pharmaceutical companies – play a crucial role in holding governments and systems accountable in the HIV response. Because lives depend on it. We refuse to be intimidated by shutting the voice of the community.
At a conference dedicated to highlighting the region’s epidemic and the unique responses to it, community voices MUST BE HEARD.
It is unacceptable for communities to be prohibited from peacefully protesting.
It is unacceptable for communities to be forcefully removed or intimidated.
It is unacceptable for communities to be denied entry to events that they paid to participate in.
Attempts to reconcile the situation with security personnel were met with unapologetic resistance.
We call on the ICASA 2017 conference organizers to meet with civil society activists and ensure they are able to voice their concerns for free dialogue and protest these issues. We also urge that no future ICASA should be held without a guarantee that civil society and communities are able to voice their concerns.
ITPC West Africa
ITPC East Africa
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
ATL MST SIDA
Hope for Future Generations Ghana
PLAN Health Advocacy and Development Foundation (PLAN Foundation), Nigeria
Society for the Elimination of HIV among Children (SEHAC), Nigeria
PLUS AIDES, France
RAME Collectif Urgence Toxida (CUT)
Réseau AGCS KELIN, Kenya
Le RENAPOC, Mali
AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)