Huge protest march at AIDS 2012 ends in 12 arrests

25 July 2012 - Washington, DC - TB/HIV activist Mark Harrington, who is TAG’s Executive Director, and 11 others were arrested yesterday by U.S. Park Police when they held a civil disobedience outside the White House. The arrest came after they began tying hundreds of pouches of medicine and dollar bills tied with red ribbon to symbolize their call for more funding for antiretroviral treatment. As the 12 were arrested, hundreds chanted from behind barricades: "The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!"

The "AIDS2012 Twelve" had been part of a huge march through Washington by HIV and TB/HIV activists from organizations all around the world. The protestors danced, sang and chanted their way through the streets of downtown DC to raise a range of issues related to AIDS, health care and sexuality on the occasion of AIDS 2012, the International AIDS Conference.

Marchers for the cause of TB/HIV loudly rang cowbells provided by ACTION and wore T-shirts drawing attention to the sobering fact that one in four deaths among people living with HIV is caused by TB. Some marchers were calling for changes on health-care policy and sex education, others lobbied for a "Robin Hood tax" on financial transactions to make revenue available for HIV/AIDS. There were advocates for sex workers, women’s health and sexual minorities. One group wore green pointy felt hats with a red feather and green masks - a sea of Robin Hoods demanding a Robin Hood tax dedicated to global health.

There have also been protests inside the convention center, where more than 23 000 people are attending the conference. On Tuesday, hundreds of people chanted and walked inside the building to protest the US ban on the granting of visas for the US to people who said they were sex workers or drug users and wanted to attend the conference.