PUCL,October 2003

AIDS activists detained at Mumbai International Airport

Also see, AIDS activists quarantined

Flat 13, 3rd Floor, 'Royal Park' Apartments
34 Park Road, Tasker Town, Bangalore - 560051
Phone: 2868680/2868121
Email: sangama@sangamaonline.org, sangama@vsnl.net

46, Wellington Street
Richmond Town
Bangalore - 560025
Email: puclblr@hotmail.com

2nd November 2003

Press Release

Dear Sir/Madam

We along with INP+ (India Network for People living with HIV/AIDS, Chennai) organized a press meet today (2nd November 2003, Sunday) at The Press Club of Bangalore at 02:30 p.m. The Press Meet was addressed by Elavarthi Manohar (Program coordinator, SANGAMA) and Prof. Hasan Mansoor (President, PUCL-K). Given below is the contents of the press note.

The authorities at the Sahar International Airport (Mumbai) have detained 6 out of 15 HIV+ people (who are HIV/AIDS activists) and quarantined them for not possessing yellow fever vaccination certificates on 1st November 2003 at 02:00 hours. They were returning after attending the '11th International Conference for People Living with HIV/AIDS' held in Kampala,
Uganda from 26th to 30th October, 2003. The activists belong to Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Manipur including Mr. Vijay Nair (Udaan+, Mumbai) and Mrs. S. C. D'Costa (ICWA, Pune). The activists, before leaving for Uganda were advised by Govt. health authorities not to take 'Yellow Fever Vaccine' as they have suppressed immunity, same thing was given in
writing to some of the activists. We are attaching the copies of letters from Kerala State AIDS Control Society and Health Services Manipur along with this note. World Health Organization (WHO) clearly states that people living with HIV/AIDS should not receive Yellow Fever vaccine (www.who.int/vaccines/en/yellowfever.shtml)

Dr. Prakash Gaekwad, medical officer of the immigration department at Sahar Airport refused to recognize these documents. Dr. Prakash Gaekwad also demanded a bribe of US$100 from each activist, if they wish to avoid being quarantined. The activists have refused to pay the bribe. The quarantine hospital has no facilities: no food, no doctor, no proper toilets, no proper drinking water facilities. Activists are forced to consume water and food provided by the attendant by paying money. Activists do not know where the water/food comes from and its quality. People living with HIV/AIDS needs to take proper nutritious food and good quality drinking water at regular intervals. Bad quality food/water and bad sanitation conditions can cause opportunistic infections to them. Quarantine without proper sanitation, food/water and medical care is not the right place for the People living with HIV/AIDS.

Officials from MDACS (Mumbai District AIDS Control Society), MSACS (Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society), NACO (National AIDS Control Organization), UNAIDS and Mr. Oscar Fernandez (M.P. and Chair Person of Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS) have assured that the activists will be moved to a hospital with good health care facilities soon, In spite of
their assurances the activists are still detained in the quarantine hospital in an isolated place with no facilities.

We demand to:

  1. Immediately move the 6 detained activists to a hospital with good health care/nutrition facilities in Mumbai
  2. Immediate suspension of Dr. Prakash Gaekwad for demanding bribe and for treating People living with HIV/AIDS unfairly, followed by a Judicial enquiry into the issue
  3. Union Govt. to constitute a committee (with members from Health Ministry, Civil Aviation Ministry, NACO, WHO, UNAIDS) to frame the procedures to be followed travel regulation vis-à-vis People living with HIV/AIDS and implement their recommendations in the next 30 days time
  4. All state governments and Union Govt. to sensitize all its ministries on HIV/AIDS issues, to address the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and to frame uniform norms and policies that are friendly to people living with HIV/AIDS

In Solidarity

Elavarthi Manohar
Hasan Mansoor
Abraham K. K.

For more information contact: SANGAMA, Flat 13, Royal Park Apartments, 34 Park Road, Tasker Town, Bangalore - 51,
Phone: (080) 2868121/2868161


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