Achmat nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The Aids pressure group Treatment Action Campaign and its chairperson, Zackie Achmat, have been nominated for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

The nomination from US-based Quaker organisation the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) says Achmat and the TAC have made “a significant contribution to the global struggle against Aids”.

The AFSC, along with its British equivalent, won the prize in 1947 on behalf of all Quakers, which qualifies it to make nominations.

The TAC said it and Achmat were deeply honoured by the nomination.

“The gains made by the TAC have been due to the efforts of thousands of people,” said Achmat, who is HIV-positive. “It is the organisation as a whole that must be commended for the achievements thus far.”

Achmat told the Mail & Guardian Online that the nomination had made him realise that the work done by the TAC was also the work that had been done by thousands of South Africans and the rest of the world.

“The really hard work starts now. We appeal to government ...
we may not have the courage to forget or forgive, and you may not forget or forgive us.”

The AFSC said in a statement released on Tuesday it was making the nomination in the belief that the global Aids epidemic constituted a grave threat to peace and security.

“Through mass mobilisation, civil disobedience, legal action, extraordinary personal sacrifice, and visionary leadership, Zackie Achmat and the TAC have helped to galvanise a global movement to provide hope and gain access to treatment for those with HIV/Aids,” it said.

The efforts of Achmat and the TAC had led to dramatic reductions in the price of anti-retrovirals and other essential drugs through voluntary price cuts by pharmaceutical manufacturers and the acceptance of generics.

The TAC had also contributed to an overhaul of global trading rules to give precedence to the protection of public health over the protection of intellectual property rights.

The 40-year-old Achmat, a founder of the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, has been a key figure in the TAC’s successful campaigns for the rollout of anti-retroviral drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and more recently, for treatment of people with HIV/Aids. - Sapa

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