US Lift HIV Travel Ban! - MTV Staying Alive

This is a short piece I wrote for the MTV Staying Alive Foundation website, in response to the US FINALLY abolishing their HIV travel restrictions. Ever heard of such a silly bulls**t thing? Well unfortunately, this blind eye constriction of human rights is still alive in many countries around the world... Here's the article:

About Time Too...
When I was born, back in 1987, the US was just about putting into motion this wonderfully oppressive HIV travel ban; a despicable restriction on those living with HIV/AIDS, prohibiting them from entering the land of hope and glory, because of their supposedly poisonous blood. The time has rightfully come, for change (thanks for that line Obama).

South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Russia (among a few others) remain on the list of countries that turn away those with HIV status. Such nations only encourage the stigma surrounding the disease, segregating those HIV+ with little remorse, or interest in understanding. This goes way further than the effect of getting chosen last in sports ed – dry your eyes mate please. The travel bans are rooted in fear and ignorance. I’ve witnessed first-hand, families in the Democratic Republic of Congo broken apart through HIV stigma (one 14 year old told me he was abandoned, as his “infection was an omen on the household”). And so, I am disgusted that any bans still exist...

Read the full article here


DRCongo: Golden Corruption - Ctrl.Alt.Shift

This is a follow-up piece I did for Ctrl.Alt.Shift regarding the 40 TONNES OF GOLD (you heard right) being illegally smuggled out of the DRCongo by sanction busters. It is a piece I felt I had to write, even at 2am in the morning when I got the news; having visited the DRC in 2008, and fell in admiration of the people and the country. The African nation (like many others on the continent) is rich, in resources and spirit - and something needs to be done to prevent it continuing to tumble down the poverty line due to scummy, unjust exploiters of the good, honest and struggling Congolese people. Here's the report:

Editor’s Blog - DRCongo Down By 40 Tonnes Of Gold
What good is a rule, if it is broken without consequence for the perpetrators? I’m talking about the sanction busters found to be smuggling 40 tonnes of gold annually out the Democratic Republic of Congo - I’ve had a pretty hefty 18 carat gold chain around my neck since I was 16 years young… 40 tonnes is a volume I can’t even begin to comprehend.

The announcement was made this week by United Nations official Dino Mahtani to the BBC, who stated the tonnes of gold have been controlled by rebel groups in the DRC to buy arms. Mahtani said: "A lot of this gold is controlled by armed group networks, in particular the FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda), the Rwandan-based rebel group partly composed by members involved in the 1994 genocide and who continue to operate in eastern Congo."

As if DRC didn’t have enough problems – having been ravaged through an African civil war since 1994, rinsed of its resources in the process. Losing $1.24billion (£739million) worth of gold on a yearly basis, without any customs declaration, is just further clog to the DRC system. Illicit trade is one of the prime reasons why one of the most richly-resourced nations in the world remains a developing one...

Read the full article here