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Canadian booth shut down in Vienna

There was word from Vienna today that a group of about 50 activists staged a die-in and shut down the Canadian booth in the exhibition hall at the International AIDS Conference yesterday.

The protest came in response to the Harper government's ongoing refusal to support safe injection sites and other harm reduction measures adopted by the Vienna Declaration. Harper's delegates refused to sign the declaration on Monday.

"Given that some of the recommendations outlined in the Vienna Declaration are inconsistent with Canada's National Anti-Drug Strategy and current federal drug policy, Canada will not support the document," Charlene Wiles, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, wrote in an email, according to the CBC.

Chanting, "The war on drugs is a war on us! Support harm reduction now," the activists wrapped the Canadian booth in tape and covered it in signs and copies of the Vienna Declaration. 

"Canada has missed an important opportunity to show leadership in the struggle against HIV and AIDS," Canadian harm reduction activist Zoe Dodd said in a press release. "There is overwhelming evidence that harm reduction strategies are effective in combatting HIV transmission. Canadian criminalization of drug use is fanning the flames of the AIDS epidemic."

Xtra's correspondent at the conference, Phillip Banks, says a gay activist from Toronto was expelled from the conference for destroying the Canadian booth's banners.

(Photo by Daniel Grace)  

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