ACT UP is asking that you:
September 4, 2001
Please take the time today--Tuesday, September
4 --to call and fax
the New York City DA Robert Morganthau and demand he drop the charges
against five AIDS activists arrested in February 2001 after a
successful protest against the deadly policy decisions of
GlaxoSmithKline (see sample letter, below). The activists are
scheduled for their second court appearance Wednesday, September 5.
More than just this one phone call and fax,
foundation of the powerful US movement to win life-extending
treatment in poor countries--requires your ongoing support. Legal
expenses--from funds for our overworked lawyers to bail money--are
desperately needed if activists are going to continue to be able to
confront the people whose policies keep life extending AIDS treatment
out of reach of the millions who need it most.
These are hard times for direct action.
Prosecutors repeatedly seek
high bail and trumped up charges, initially four felonies per
defendant in the Glaxo case below. The handcuffs were barely off from
that protest when activists learned that Morganthau decided to
reverse a dismissal more than 18 months old, for an "AIDS Drugs for
Africa" direct action on New York City's World AIDS Day that garnered
international press coverage and resulted in three arrests.
Direct action led by ACT UP exploded the
issue of AIDS drug access in
poor countries onto the international scene in cross-country "zaps"
of campaign appearances by Al Gore in 1999, coupled with massive
The activist formula of direct action, grassroots
protest, and savvy
press work is what garners real victories: two and half years ago
when activists started a US campaign for access to HIV/AIDS
medications, US politicians had effectively written off the lives of
the 30 million people with AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and around the
world who have no access to affordable treatment. Those days are
over. Non-stop activist pressure holds US politicians and drug
companies to be accountable to people with AIDS around the world.
Be a part of the struggle: donate to the
ACT UP Legal Defense Fund.
Make checks payable to ACT UP New York, please write "Legal Defense
Fund" in the memo field and mail to:
332 Bleecker Suite G5
New York, NY 10014
ACT UP New York
ACT UP Philadelphia
To join ACT UP New York's Global AIDS working
212-674-9598 or email email@example.com
To contact ACT UP Philadelphia, call 215-731-1844, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
[Sample letter to fax to District Attorney
Mr. Robert Morgenthau, District Attorney
One Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013
Phone (212) 335-9000
Fax (212) 385-2301
Re: Drop the charges against GlaxoSmithKline protesters
Dear Mr. Morgenthau,
On February 20, 2001, five AIDS activists
were arrested for protests
singling out the unconscionable actions of GlaxoSmithKline, one of
the world's largest and most profitable pharmaceutical companies.
Like more than 250,000 other concerned people
around the world ,
these five activists were appalled that GlaxoSmithKline was a lead
plaintiff in a lawsuit against South Africa concerning access to
affordable generic medication. Virtually all the 4.6 million people
with HIV/AIDS in South Africa have no access to lifesaving AIDS
treatment because they are too poor to afford the prices charged for
life-extending medication by companies like GlaxoSmithKline.
The activists were also appalled that GlaxoSmithKline
deliberately blocking distribution of desperately needed generic AIDS
drugs in Ghana by falsely claiming the distribution of the generic
drugs infringed Glaxo's patent rights in Ghana. Glaxo has no
legitimate patent rights to the drug in question, which the company
admitted following the protest . Over 340,000 or approximately 5 per
cent of the adult Ghanaian population is HIV positive , and 25 people
are infected with HIV each day .
These and other actions by GlaxoSmithKline
were resulting in millions
of preventable deaths.
GlaxoSmithKline acceded to the pressure
of these activists and
likeminded protesters around the world , abandoning their lawsuit
against South Africa and conceding that they lied about their patent
rights in Ghana.
I am personally demanding that you drop
the charges against these
five activists. They were held in jail over 24 hours and initially
charged with felonies-they have been penalized enough. In light of
GlaxoSmithKline's public capitulation, the interests of justice
require that you dismiss their cases. Thank you for your
consideration in this matter.
1. In only one months' time, a Médecins
Without Borders international petition calling for an end to the
lawsuit was signed by 250,000 people.
2. see Harris, Gardiner. Gaffes in Africa
Come Back To Haunt Drug
Industry in the U.S. Wall Street Journal 23 April 2001.
4. Ameyibor, Edward. Inter Press Service 25 August 1999.
5. see McGreal, Chris. Shamed and humiliated
the drugs firms back
down. The Guardian 19 April 2001; Swindells, Steven. Drug Firms
Concede South Africa's Right to Cheap Drugs. Reuters 19 April 2001;
Swarns, Rachel. Drug Firms Drop South Africa AIDS Case. The New York
Times 19 April 2001.
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