Asia Catalyst

April 2012 Archives

Employers in China's Yunnan Province openly discriminate against former drug users living with HIV/AIDS, according to a joint report released by Asia Catalyst and Kangxin Home, a Chinese community organization.

Staff and volunteers of Kangxin Home interviewed community members and found that many had been fired multiple times from their jobs at small businesses such as auto repair shops, tobacco shops and supermarkets.

Source: China AIDS Email Group 

According to the Chinese NGO Zhengzhou City He'rbutong (郑州和而不同), which runs the Aibo Legal Hotline, a district-level court in Wuhan, Hubei Province, has accepted the first case of privacy rights infringement brought forward by a person living with HIV/AIDS.

The case of 28 year-old plaintiff, Xiao Su, was formally accepted on April 16, 2012. Xiao Su alleges that after renting out an apartment, he was blackmailed by his tenant, Peng, over Xiao Su's status as a person living with HIV/AIDS, or PLWHA Xiao Su's court case alleges significant impacts on his personal life after being exposed as a PLWHA in the local community. Xiao Su filed this case with the Han Yang District People's Court, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, to stop the infringement of his private property and privacy rights. He has demanded an apology and CNY 10,000 RMB [approximately US $1,590] in compensation for psychological damages.

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By Mike Frick 

On April 25, 2012, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) celebrated its 25th Anniversary by joining forces with Occupy Wall Street to demand a 0.05% tax on financial  transactions to raise funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS. The small tax on Wall Street transactions and speculative trading (also known as the Robin Hood tax) could generate up to 400 billion dollars annually. A broad coalition of activists has called for this money to fund global public goods, including HIV/AIDS treatment, health services, and action against climate change. ACT UP, which emerged in the 1980s to break the silence on America's HIV/AIDS epidemic, pioneered many of the direct action, non-violent protest tactics that have influenced the more recent Occupy Wall Street movement.

Several hundred activists from ACT UP, Occupy Wall Street, Housing Works, and other organizations marched from City Hall to Wall Street, chanting "act up, fight back," "housing is a human right," and "we are unstoppable, the end of HIV/AIDS is possible." Toward the end of the march, police caged demonstrators behind barricades in front of Trinity Church, one block from Zuccotti Park, the site of Occupy Wall Street's former camp in NYC's financial district. Earlier in the day, nine ACT UP activists dressed as Robin Hood were arrested for chaining themselves together and disrupting traffic outside the New York Stock Exchange. In a separate demonstration, the police arrested several protestors who set up a mock apartment in the middle of Broadway outside City Hall to call attention to homelessness and HIV/AIDS.

By Kthi Win

Plenery speech by Kaythi Win, Chairperson of Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, at Association of Women in Development Forum forum in Istanbul on April 21,  2012. See the exciting video here.

Hello everybody,

I am Kthi Win from Myanmar and I am a sex worker. I manage a national organization for female, male & transgender sex workers in Burma & I am also the chairperson of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers.  Until now, organizing anything in Myanmar has been very difficult.  And people ask, "how did you set up a national program for sex workers?"  And my answer to them is "Our work is illegal.  Every night we manage to earn money without getting arrested by the police.  We used to work and organize together, so we use this knowledge in order to work out how we can set up the National Network without making the government angry".

This topic is about transforming economic power.  I want to say to you, that when a woman makes the decision to sell sex, she has already made the decision to empower herself economically.  What we do in organizing sex workers, is we build on the power that the sex worker has already taken for herself - the decision to not be poor.

For the past few weekends, I've been gradually deleting information from my Facebook account. Each Sunday, a few more photos come down. That's because I read Rebecca MacKinnon's call to arms, Consent of the Networked, which shows that Facebook, Twitter, and Google are acquiring the size and power of nation-states, but without the democratic accountability or transparency citizens may demand of the states that govern them. Mackinnon asks, "How do we make sure that people with power over our digital lives will not abuse that power?"

While Secretary of State Clinton has a grand vision of an "AIDS-free generation" the Global Post reports that the White House 2013 fiscal budget actually slashes global AIDS funding by 11 percent. The cause? The administration recently announced that there is still $1.5 billion unspent from the former budget. To put this in perspective, $1.46 billion is roughly three times the annual amount the US government spent on AIDS globally a decade ago.

Read the complete Global Post interview with US Global AIDS ambassador Eric Goosby here and the new PEPFAR guidelines for spending here.
In March, a joint statement cosigned by 12 UN bodies, including UNAIDS, called for all "States to close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centers and implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in the community." The statement noted that many of the compulsory centers violate internationally recognized human rights standards often involving physical and sexual violence or forced labor.  

By Gregg Gonsalves

Lant Pritchett--a Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School--has been leading a campaign against the election of Jim Kim to the World Bank presidency.   While he isn't the only critic of Dr. Kim's nomination, he is among the most vocal and well-known.   Though his views are his own, they have been amplified by other leading development economists, such as William Easterly at New York University and people associated with the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.


Over the past few weeks, Pritchett has publicly questioned Kim's qualifications, saying a lack of training in economics and experience in world finance should disqualify him from the post. He has further suggested that Kim's nomination shows  the arrogance and hegemony of American power over the institution.  He has called for Kim to step aside for a merit-based election, in which the Nigerian candidate for the post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (a World Bank, Harvard and MIT alum, also finance minister of Nigeria) would presumably sweep to victory.


A few days ago, Pritchett wrote an article in the New Republic (TNR) which comes clean about the real reasons for the escalating, grasping campaign of opposition to Jim Kim. The piece is called "Why Obama's World Bank Pick Is Proving So Controversial."   The title is an overreach:  It should really read "Why Obama's World Bank Pick Is Proving So Controversial to Me and My Friends." 

[UPDATE] January - March 2012

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Celebrating our fifth anniversary

This year, Asia Catalyst celebrates five years of helping to build grassroots groups in East and Southeast Asia. As part of our 5th Anniversary Campaign, our board has promised to match donations to help Chinese rights advocates come to the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C. in July. That means $100 donation is worth $200, and $500 is worth $1000. Please make a tax-deductible gift here.

A gift of $100 or more gets you a lovely gift book -- with photos and background on our inspiring partners in China and Southeast Asia.

The Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention has picked up China's Blood Disaster: The Way Forward, a report jointly prepared by Asia Catalyst and Korekata AIDS Law Center . 

While government officials maintain only 65,100 people contracted HIV through blood sales and transfusions, AIDS activists have long argued the true number is much higher. The report finds that still few of the thousands affected have been able to get compensation.

By Willa Dong


When the health needs of female sex workers (FSWs) are discussed, reproductive health and preventing HIV/AIDS are often the first things that are brought up. However, like any other person, a sex worker has a variety of health needs.

I became interested exploring these needs and trying to understand the extent to which  mental health is a priority for FSWs last September. Since then, I have looked at these issues in Shenzhen, China, through formal interviews with sex workers and also simply by spending time at a karaoke bar, beauty salons, and in neighborhoods, to get to know sex workers, mommies, and clients. I chose to do a smaller, qualitative study because it was important for me as a non-sex worker to understand the perspectives of sex workers, who already have a clear idea of their needs.

Bradley Cox's highly controversial 2010 documentary Who Killed Chea Vichea? has been honored with a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. Only 38 Peabodies were awarded worldwide this year. Other recipients include CNN, the BBC, HBO and the Colbert Report.

The Peabody has recognized "excellence, distinguished achievement, and meritorious public service" in electronic media for more than seventy years.
By Meg Davis