Monday, May 26, 2014

Professor's Bain's Testimony Threatened Foreign Funding (Gleaner letter) ....

So as the fire-storm continues since the news came to light that there was a conflict of interest where the former head of CHART testified in a Belizean court on HIV matters here is one such letter and some other links, I am still evaluating the pros and cons of this as this ball from left field has further eroded the gains made over many years in as far as LGBT advocacy and HIV Prevention work.

Today's Gleaner cartoon says it loudest that the perception is now cemented that the lobby is a bunch of bullies:



Demonstration at UWI last week

Here is the letter in question as captioned in the title

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I refer to Gordon Robinson's contribution titled 'Caving in to lobby hijackers' published in The Gleaner of May 21, 2014.

One hesitates to enter the lists against my friend Gordon, armoured as he is with wit, knowledge and intelligence. However, I will present what I believe to be three facts, and then I will ask two questions which I hope Gordon will answer. First, the facts:

1. Since the launch of USAID's HIV/AIDS programme in 1986, the agency has been on the forefront of the global AIDS crisis.

2. That agency's position is the same as that expressed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2009: "Shine the full light of human rights on HIV. I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies, and practices that hamper the AIDS response. In many countries, legal frameworks institutionalise discrimination against groups most at risk. Yet, discrimination against sex workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men only fuels the epidemic and prevents cost-effective interventions. We must ensure that AIDS responses are based on evidence, not ideology, and reach those most in need and most affected."

3. The Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Centre is funded primarily by overseas agencies: USAID, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Health Resources & Services Administration, Global AIDS Programme, and the Global Fund.

Now, my two questions: Was the expressed opinion of CHART's head, Professor Bain, in consonance with the stated position of that organisation's funders? If it was not so consonant, and in the face of very strident opinion expressed by a large number of organisations which CHART is mandated to assist, is it not the prime duty of the UWI to ensure that there is not the slightest possibility that the funding of CHART, this most critically important organisation in the Caribbean's fight against AIDS, be in any way compromised?

JEFFREY C. COBHAM
jeffreycobham@gmail.com

ENDS

In the meantime the discourse continues in the public spaces and here is a more rational look at the issue as recording this morning on HOT 102FM's Morning Edition with a leading Epidemiologist and former head of the national HIV program on the matter:


Sadly we have been left with a black eye as the cemented perception on minds of the anti gay voices especially,


In this on May 22 file photo, a protester stands in front of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, in a show of support for Professor Brendan Bain. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographers

Protests are planned today as well at the gates of the University as if that is going to change the clear conflict of interest on the part of Professor Bain, 
In this on May 22 file photo, a protester stands in front of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, in a show of support for Professor Brendan Bain. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographers Gleaner.

A protest has been planned for this morning outside the University of West Indies (UWI), Mona Reported the Gleaner earlier to demand a response to a petition regarding the dismissal of Professor Brendan Bain.

A statement sent from the email addressjusticeforbrendanbain@gmail.com says the protest was planned for this morning.

Professor Bain was fired last week as the director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART), Network for providing an expert report in a 2010 suit brought by a gay man in Belize.

Certain lobby groups have claimed that the statement supported the retention of the buggery law in the country as a means of stemming the HIV/AIDS rate.

More than 30 gay and human rights groups had written to the UWI saying they lost confidence in Professor Bain as the head of the training network.

However, last week a group began an online petition demanding, among other things that the UWI issue a public apology to Professor Bain and Jamaicans.

According to the latest email, a protest is planned for today because the UWI vice-chancellor Professor E. Nigel Harris, has failed to respond to the petition.

Dr Carolyn Gomes, the executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities, which is one lobby groups that sought Bain's removal says the protest will be futile, as the university had no option but to get rid of Professor Bain.

The human rights groups have maintained that Bain's actions in the case presented a conflict of interest. 


My fundamental question is when the dust settles how are the small tolerance gains made over the years be reforged and re-cemented if possible in the national psyche overall?

Here also is the Jamaica Umbrella Groups of Churches take on RJR's Beyond the Headlines last week:


Other letters and discourse of interest:

UWI Did the right thing 

Artists must see the Bigger Picture






Peace and tolerance

H

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