AIDS Dissidents Hold International Rallies to Support Mbeki's Skepticism

28 April 2000

ACT UP SF members speak at New York demo; meet with United Nations' representative

New York City -- AIDS dissidents held rallies yesterday in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and London to support South African president Thabo Mbeki's questioning of popular AIDS beliefs and skepticism about the safety of dosing pregnant African women with the drug AZT. The international demonstrations were coordinated by HEAL New York, HEAL Toronto, The New York Rethinking AIDS Society, ACT UP San Francisco, ACT UP Hollywood, ACT UP Toronto and the London-based Continuum magazine. Other non-rally support efforts for Mbeki also took place yesterday in Seattle, San Francisco and Paris.

In New York City, over 50 people attended a three-hour rally in front of the United Nations at Dag Hammarskjhold Plaza. AIDS dissidents passed out fliers and copies of the book "What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?" while angry activists covered the area with brightly colored stickers, marched and chanted "HIV is a lie! Hands off Africa!" and "Birth defects are all we see! Death is caused by AZT!"

One hour after the rally commenced, a large banner emblazoned with the words "We Support President Mbeki" was unfurled as a panel of twelve speakers convened to address the crowd. Members of ACT UP San Francisco joined Curtis Cost and Michael Ellner of HEAL New York, Lynn Gannett of the New York Rethinking AIDS Society and Atlanta's Conscious Rasta in denouncing censorship of the growing evidence that HIV does not cause AIDS, that HIV tests and statistics are unreliable and that AIDS drugs injure and kill.

At 2:30 p.m. ACT UP members Todd Swindell, Ronnie Burk and David Pasquarelli headed over to the United States mission of the United Nations to demand that U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke immediately end the abuse of African citizens by pharmaceutical companies and the AIDS industry. ACT UP members mailed 200 packets of AIDS dissident information to U.N. member states this past March and say they have yet to receive an official response from the U.S. mission.

After entering the building located at 799 United Nations Plaza, ACT UP members -- accompanied by a film crew -- were immediately ushered outside where they met on the curb with Press and Public Affairs representative Christina Lonigro from the U.S. mission who had no explanation for the Ambassador's lack of response to ACT UP. The activists informed Ms. Lonigro about the day's demonstration to support President Mbeki, demanded that Ambassador Holbrooke condemn all forms of AIDS censorship including the upcoming AIDS Conference's banning of ACT UP SF and presented her with a press packet and a large protest poster that read "Stop the U.S. AID$ Scam."

ACT UP SF activists in New York vowed to escalate efforts to bring attention to their position that AIDS is a colossal American medical blunder kept in place by corruption and conflict of interest.

"We came to support President Mbeki and to let the world know that the AIDS lie is over," commented ACT UP SF member Todd Swindell.

Press photos (digital and paper) are available from ACT UP SF by contacting us via or phone.

David Pasquarelli: (415) 637-4666
Ronnie Burk: (415) 864-6686

Speech by ACT UP SF member Todd Swindell:

Good afternoon, I'm Todd Swindell, a proud member of ACT UP San Francisco.

Thank you for coming out today in support of President Mbeki's courageous stance in questioning the myth that AIDS is caused by a virus. As gay men who have survived this medical mistake gone out of control, we have seen first hand the horrific destruction of our friends and lovers from scientifically unfounded AIDS therapies.

AZT, the first approved AIDS drug, rushed through the FDA thirteen years ago despite bogus data, resulted in a barrage of pharmaceuticals that left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead. These potent pills are chemotherapies, designed to annihilate the body's natural defense. Anemia, muscle loss, fatigue, wasting, diarrhea, spiking headaches -- this is the fall out from government-approved AIDS drugs. An ACT UP sign carried at last year's queer pride march asked the important question, "Was it AIDS or AZT?"

Now the World Health Organization and the United Nations have set their sights on Africa. Oblivious to widespread poverty, malnutrition, improper sanitation and rampant warfare, world leaders decided the answer to Africa's problems are endless amounts of pills. This is no solution, no real help for the people of Africa. Only the pharmaceutical corporations serve to benefit from this sick scheme.

As with everything in AIDS, we must ask ourselves who sets the agenda. Who dictates the discourse? As always it is the multinational corporations. Whipped up into a frenzy of terror and fear, desperate and frightened individuals are led to believe that their only hope is to poison themselves. As the rhetoric goes, "After all, death from HIV is much, much worse."

A virus that has never been isolated? A test that is inaccurate and non-specific? A network of agencies and organizations built on profit and greed? We stand here today as living proof that HIV is a lie. Our survival -- our continued struggle -- is a testament to the fact that HIV, even if it were some government lab experiment, is a complete dud.

It is because we witnessed our gay brothers slow and gruesome poisoning that we are here today to sound the alarm about the real danger of toxic AIDS medications. It is because we helped administer these death pills to our lovers that we are here today to see that the destruction continues no more.

America and Europe were only the first wave of AIDS Incorporated. Slowly, but thankfully, we are noticing a rapid rise in public skepticism around the phony sex-death virus HIV. All too aware, drug companies and world leaders are now targeting Africa, Thailand and India. With our awareness of this impending doom we must rise to action to stop such insane madness. HIV is a lie. AIDS drugs kill. This is the message -- our message -- whose time has come.

For the people of Africa, and everyone everywhere, we must ACT UP! Fight Back! End AIDS Terror!

Todd Swindell
United Nations Plaza
April 27, 2000

Speech by ACT UP member Ronnie Burk:

Everyone is aware of the brutal murders that are occurring in this city perpetuated by the police upon black men. For those of us in ACT UP San Francisco, the vicious violence the New York Police Department continues to engage in is no different than the medical establishment administering AZT to healthy, pregnant African women. The racism implicit in such policies and the gruesome outcome are one and the same.

ACT UP San Francisco is here today to show our unwavering support for President Mbeki's stand in challenging the AIDS Industry on the efficacy of the AIDS drugs and the very notion that HIV causes AIDS.

Let us not mince words. In refusing to access AZT for pregnant women President Mbeki is averting a catastrophe in the making. We of ACT UP San Francisco have not come by our position concerning the AIDS drugs lightly. Having witnessed our friends and lovers die hideous, torturous deaths on AZT in the late eighties and early nineties we have committed ourselves to getting the word out. AZT is only capable of promoting birth defects and death. The targeting of minorities is criminal and we demand a halt to the continued reign of terror that is being promoted across the world in the name of AIDS. The subject of AIDS brings to light deep sociopolitical concerns that go to the heart of our existing social order. Ending AIDS in Africa or in the United States requires raising the standard of health care for all. If the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the United States government were truly interested in ending AIDS, projects to end hunger and develop sanitation facilities and hospitals would be priorities. Instead we are supposed to believe that coffers of toxic pills will somehow alleviate these basic needs.

From Indonesia to Chiapas, Mexico -- from the slums of New Delhi to Bangkok -- the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization and the United States government all continue to bleed the people of the world for profit. It is ACT UP San Francisco's opinion that President Mbeki's courageous and astute stance on the issue of AIDS is a turning point for the world community. We must not let this opportune moment slip past us.

For 500 years the West has set its predatory eye on the continent of Africa. Today we say "No more!" Today we say feed the people, share the wealth and end the exploitation of the people of the world for the profiteering of a few multinational plutocrats.

Long live the anti-imperialist struggle! Long live the love that will transform the world!

For those of us at ACT UP SF, the meaning of these words are one and the same.

Ronnie Burk
United Nations Plaza
April 27, 2000

Speech by ACT UP member David Pasquarelli:

Good afternoon. I am David Pasquarelli from the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power. I came to New York today with my colleagues Todd Swindell and Ronnie Burk to say that I am sick of AIDS censorship!

I am tired of the news blackout about the obvious fact that something is terribly, tragically wrong with AIDS -- with the numbers, with the estimates, with the alleged cause and with the poisonous treatments.

We are here today to commend President Mbeki on his decision to stand up to the multinational drug industry and get to the bottom of what causes -- and how to prevent and safely treat -- diseases called "AIDS."

I have been involved with ACT UP for over a decade and was labeled "HIV positive" five years ago. It has been my experience that every facet of the cause, identification and treatment of AIDS is shrouded in secrecy and silence. Only the government line -- that HIV causes AIDS, that HIV tests can tell you if you will get sick and that AIDS drugs are beneficial -- is promoted. Billions of dollars are poured into maintaining this single line of reasoning and 20 years since the terror of AIDS began to be broadcast it is clear this line of reasoning has failed to explain AIDS or produce results.

For me personally, AIDS censorship has meant that I wasn't fully informed about the unreliability of the notoriously flawed HIV test. AIDS censorship has meant I had no idea that virtually every AIDS group that pushes AIDS drugs is funded by the companies that make those drugs. It's called corruption and it's killing people!

For our organization, ACT UP, AIDS censorship has meant marginalization in the media if our position or protests are even covered at all. Most recently our group has been silenced and prevented from presenting our conclusions -- that AIDS is not caused by a virus, that HIV tests are flawed and dangerous and that AIDS drugs like AZT are poison -- at the upcoming 13th International AIDS Conference in South Africa.

After completing the paperwork, paying all fees and being awarded booth number one at this July's scientific forum, our exhibition space was canceled by Chairman HM Coovadia who stated that "our attendance would detract from the ethos and principles of the International AIDS Conference."

No doubt the fact that these AIDS conferences are bought and paid for by drug companies played a factor in silencing us from criticizing the use of experimental AIDS drugs like protease inhibitors. Our experience has shown us that these tixic pills cause massive death and defomity among gay men using them in San Francisco.

We are here today in front of the United nations to confront AIDS censorship and the human toll that the flawed HIV hypothesis has caused worldwide. We urge U.N. member states to ensure the inclusion of all viewpoints in the upcoming AIDS conference or demand its cancellation. And again we applaud President Mbeki of South Africa for standing up to pharmaceutical profit makers that push dangerous chemicals that kill.

ACT UP! Fight Back! Fight the AIDS Scam!

David Pasquarelli
United Nations Plaza
April 27, 2000

ACT UP San Francisco
1884 Market Street • San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 864-6686 • Fax: (415) 864-6687