PIUMA and EAWM demand explanation for HIV activist’s detention

Press release from Tuesday, October 10, 2006.

PIUMA and EAWM demand explanation for HIV activist's detention

October 10, 2006. (Vienna)

EAWM, the Austrian Lutheran mission and development agency, and PIUMA, the HIV self-help group in Makete District, Tanzania, have secured the release from jail of HIV activist Jackson Mbogela, an EAWM staff member and advisor to PIUMA. PIUMA and EAWM are now demanding an explanation for his detention.

Mr Mbogela was detained by police last Thursday evening in Makete and then transferred to the regional jail in Iringa on Friday. His detention followed public statements by Mr. Mbogela and by leaders of PIUMA demanding accountability for donor dollars that had disappeared from the local Lutheran hospital in Bulongwa and from AIDS programs supported by the Global Fund.

"We are relieved that Mr. Mbogela is no longer being kept in jail," said the General Secretary of EAWM, Gottfried Mernyi, "but we are angry that his human rights are being so flagrantly denied by police authorities. We are still unable to determine if he is free to travel back to his home in Bulongwa."

Mr. Mbogela has not been formally charged nor has he been given any explanation for his four day detention by police.

"As a Tanzanian, I am deeply disappointed that the police are not following proper procedures in this matter," said Jackson Mbogela from Iringa by telephone. "The fight against HIV-AIDS often becomes a fight for respect of basic human rights. I heard this discussed in Toronto at the AIDS 2006 Conference last August and now we are living that experience in Makete District."

PIUMA, whose full name in Kiswahili (pima uishi kwa matumaini) means "test and live in hope", is active on a range of health, advocacy and economic development issues. Its members are fighting for justice and for dignity for people living with HIV in Makete District and for their families and villages. PIUMA members are proud Tanzanians; their work is deeply rooted in Tanzanian law (including its protection of human rights) and in their country's traditions of community-based democracy and self-help.

EAWM (Evangelical Association for World Mission) works with Lutheran parishes in Austria to foster an understanding of mission as the responsibility to work in partnership with the worldwide church family, addressing the spiritual and material development of mankind. EAWM's work is based on a countrywide network of volunteers.

For more information, please contact:

Gottfried Mernyi
General Secretary