Health Education AIDS Liaison, Toronto
END AIDS CENSORSHIP NOW!
South African President pressured to
February 2000: President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa wants to hold an "Expert Panel of Inquiry" into the assumptions about the causes of AIDS, how to properly diagnose it, and which treatments are genuinely helpful. He intends to include representatives with a broad range of views. He hopes that discussion and debate will address important questions raised by "dissident" scientists, as they remain largely ignored. Does this sound like a sensible premise for a scientific conference?
Actually, it is an extraordinary move on the President's part. This is the first time that a head of state has recognized that these questions, far from being discredited as reported in the media, haven't been answered at all. In fact they have been aggressively censored. President Mbeki has been vilified in the South African and international press for suggesting that these questions deserve attention.
Many HIV researchers have denounced Mbeki's AIDS initiative as "idiotic", "dangerous" and "unrelated to science", saying that it is their "duty to intervene.'' "This is fiddling while Rome burns,'' said Dr. John Moore, a leading scientist at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. "If South Africa declares that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, what impact is that going to have on the rest of the world?'' asked Moore. Some have called for foreign governments, especially the United States, to intervene and give the administration of South African President Thabo Mbeki a talking-to. Others have called for the boycott of the XIII International AIDS Conference scheduled for Durban South Africa in July.
These threats of coercion have no place in open scientific inquiry. No scientific theory should be run like a protection racket. The fact that voices are raised so defensively to enforce conformity and silence debate should be seen as a sign that the HIV=AIDS theory is in trouble.
"I am ... amazed at how many people, who claim to be scientists, are determined that scientific discourse and inquiry should cease, because 'most of the world' is of one mind," says Mbeki. "The debate we need is not with me, who is not a scientist, or my office, but [with] the scientists who present 'scientific' arguments contrary to the 'scientific' view expressed by 'most of the world'."
Responding to a request from an orthodox scientist that he ignore these dissenting ideas:
"It is clear from your letter that you believe that we should ignore or merely note these findings because of the current 'consensus amongst responsible and authoritative scientific leaders' as well as 'the available evidence'," Mbeki writes. "Undoubtedly, such 'consensus' and 'available evidence' also existed on the use of Thalidomide. ...I am afraid that my own conscience would not allow that I respond only to the 'consensus' with which you are in agreement."
On April 3 President Mbeki wrote a letter to world leaders outlining his concerns. In the U.S., the Clinton administration's response was to restrict distribution of the five-page letter, in an effort to prevent it from becoming public.
Here is the final passage from Mbeki's letter:
President Mbeki's letter to world leaders (April 3, 2000).
For more background on President Mbeki's inititive:
Compiled news coverage of South African controversy
HIV or Not HIV
David Rasnick's contributions to Mbeki's expert AIDS panel
The Perth Group's presentation to Mbeki's expert AIDS panel