Tripoli Six update

As I’ve been busy this week, other Sciencebloggers (with Revere leading the fray and more posts here) have updated everyone on the newest developments in the case of the Tripoli Six (previous update here), the six medical workers on trial for their lives in Libya, accused of spreading HIV to more than 400 children in a hospital there. Nature’s Declan Bulter broke news on a new Nature paper showing, using molecular phylogenetics, that the strains of HIV which infected the children were already circulating in the hospital prior to the medics’ arrival–again, showing that these workers are innocent and wrongly accused, and that the infections were due to nosocomial (hospital-based) spread due to poor medical practices employed there. The verdict is expected to be handed down on December 19th–bringing potential execution by firing squad of these demonstrably innocent people.

Again, Mike has suggestions for what you can do. See also Nick’s at Panda’s Thumb for some other stories on it, and a bit more info on the paper itself.

3 Replies to “Tripoli Six update”

  1. What puzzles me about reading your post (and Mike’s earlier one) is that the main human rights websites (at least the ones I consult) make little reference to this case.

    I regularly check the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch websites, and you have to search hard there to find items about the Tripoli Six.

    This leads me to wonder if another possible strategy would be to contact those organisations, to persuade them to increase publicity through their well-established channels. They are the professional human rights protesters. I don’t know if they read Nature, so they may not yet be aware of the new evidence.

    Scientists and human rights activists can make common cause here. But for those who aren’t familiar with the AI and HRW websites, a word of warning – the sites make very depressing reading.

  2. I could not agree more. I too have even gone so far as to write to the address they gave for questions about ikkues, or to report issues and have to day received not even one of those elctronic automated replys. This whole thing seems to be WAY bigger than a trial against 6 among hundreds of international healthcare workers at that childrens hospital. If you want a real eye opener visit this site and watch the documentary by Micky Grant.

  3. John Monfries: I also agree. In fact I’ve already fired off a message to AI’s international secretariat (which deals with the specific cases of human rights violations) with a very brief summary of the Nature AOP and its URL, asking why they are not flogging this new evidence for all it’s worth.

    Mary: haven’t watched that video yet, but yes, it is absolutely bigger than six healthcare workers’ lives. If medics and nurses treating HIV patients are at risk of execution, then they will be very reticent about offering their valuable services, and that will cause thousands of deaths of Libyan citizens and accelerate thousands more.

    In fact, I fail to understand this issue at all. Gaddafi’s régime is apparently courting international condemnation (jeopardising its recent efforts at détente) and putting its own citizens’ lives at risk when all it needed to do was solve known infection control problems – uncontroversial stuff that every country facing an HIV epidemic has faced. There isn’t even the poor pretext of crushing political dissent.

    Sadly, it seems that Libya’s rulers are crazy after all.

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