July 10, 1996

Co Chairs of the
XI International Conference on AIDS
Martin T. Schechter
Michael L. Reckart
Julio Montaner
Michael O'Shaughnessy

Dear Conference Co-Chairs,

On Thursday there is a session which includes a presentation entitled "HIV Prevention Among Commercial Sex Workers Using Peer Education Strategies" by Dr. Nyunt Nyunt of the Burmese Department of Health.

We are writing to protest this presentation because the SLORC (military regime of Burma) has committed the most blatant human rights violation possible against sex workers by executing HIV-positive sex workers at the Thai border. Reports of this appalling matter are well corroborated. The Network of Sex Work Projects protested this at the 1992 International AIDS Conference.

We are at a loss to understand how the XI International Conference on AIDS could be so negligent and naive as to accept a presentation from this country. This is particularly baffling in e face of global outrage at the fact that the military dictatorship of Burma is currently holding its elected leader under house arrest. This makes a mockery of Dr. Piot's statement at the opening plenary that "it's time to get serious about human rights."

It is incumbent on organizers of any international conference to ensure that a respectable international forum is not created for a regime which is clearly violating the human rights of its citizens. This is especially important since levels of vulnerability to HIV are directly affected human rights violations.

The Conference needs to acknowledge this mistake. We ask that the Conference make a public response and send a copy to the Network c/o SWAV at the address provided immediately. The Network will be informing all delegates at the session of human rights violations by the Burmese government and asking them to leave in protest during Dr. Nyunt's presentation.


Andrew Sorfleet, Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver
Cheryl Overs and Paulo Longo, international Network of Sex Work Projects
Beth Wolgemuth, Sex Worker's Alliance of Toronto

CC: Claudia Fischer, Andrew Johnson,
Catherine Hankins


Conference report... [SWAV Letters] [Rights Groups]

Created: August 12, 1996
Last modified: March 6, 1999
SWAV Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710
Email: swav@walnet.org