A charge of genocide has been laid against Aids activist and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) head Zackie Achmat at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Advocate Anthony Brink from the Treatment Information Group (TIG), submitted the complaint to the Court in The Hague in a 59 page document which outlines the charges against Zachmat, mainly that “Achmat is guilty of genocide, the gravest crime among the ‘most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole’.”

The ICC has issued a letter acknowledging its receipt.

Brink claims that, by promoting the use of antiretroviral drugs, Achmat has caused the death of thousands of South Africans. Achmat – who is openly gay and living with HIV himself – has long-campaigned for the South African government to treat those living with HIV with antiretroviral drugs. He is seen by many, locally and internationally, as a hero for his work.

On the other hand, Brink, who is linked to the controversial TAC foe Matthias Rath, is an advocate of natural remedies and vitamins in the fight against Aids and believes that antiretrovirals are toxic and lethal.

In the document – which often displays use of emotive language – Brink proposes what he considers to be appropriate punishment for Achmat:

“…permanent confinement in a small white steel and concrete cage, bright fluorescent light on all the time to keep an eye on him, his warders putting him out only to work every day in the prison garden to cultivate nutrient-rich vegetables, including when it’s raining, in order for him to repay his debt to society, with the ARVs he claims to take administered daily under close medical watch at the full prescribed dose, morning, noon and night, without interruption, to prevent him faking that he’s being treatment compliant, pushed if necessary down his forced-open gullet with a finger, or, if he bites, kicks and screams too much, dripped into his arm after he’s been restrained on a gurney with cable ties around his ankles, wrists and neck, until he gives up the ghost on them, so as to eradicate this foulest, most loathsome, unscrupulous and malevolent blight on the human race, who has plagued and poisoned the people of South Africa, mostly black, mostly poor, for nearly a decade now, since the day he and his TAC first hit the scene.”

The charges laid by Brink are unlikely to be taken seriously by the ICC, but they have resulted in significant publicity for Brink and his cause. The document outlining the charges appears to largely be an argument against antiretrovirals.

Speaking on Radio 702, Treatment Action Campaign Spokesperson Nathan Geffen dismissed the charges and questioned the media taking these seriously. He said that the organisation had not even considered consulting its lawyers and described Brink’s claims as “ridiculous, silly – the rantings of a madman.”

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