Forty injured, ten shot at peaceful protest to demand treatment in South Africa

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

On 12 July a peaceful demonstration, organised by HIV-positive members of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa to ensure that people with HIV/AIDS receive antiretroviral treatment at Frontier Hospital and throughout the Eastern Cape, led to the South African Police Services in Queenstown brutally assaulting and then shooting unarmed, peaceful protesters asking for HIV treatment.

Forty people were injured and ten were treated for gunshot wounds. One person had to be admitted to hospital. At least ten of the injured people were people who live openly with HIV/AIDS. The majority of the protesters were women. At no stage was there violence, threat of violence or any form of provocation and the March had been planned with prior knowledge of local health authorities. No warning to disperse was issued as is required by law. After the assault, as people ran away, the police opened fire with firearms and then used teargas.

Basic demands from the demonstration included access to information on the number of people, tested, counselled along with information on successes and challenges of the treatment programme, which currently treats fewer that 200 or the 2000 local people estimated to need treatment. More people have died waiting for treatment than people on treatment

Within 2 days of this news the international reaction quickly resulted in letters of protest from over 200 HIV support organisations in solidarity with the south African protestors.

For further details see the TAG website:

Treatment Action Campaign

Source: Treatment Action Campaign press release. ‘Forty injured, ten shot at peaceful protest to demand treatment’ 13 July 2005.

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.