Kenyan Nobel peace laureate claims AIDS virus deliberately created
AFP | October 10 2004
Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, on Saturday reiterated her claim that the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent.
"Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys (since) time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.
"Us black people are dying more than any other people in this planet," Maathai told a press conference in Nairobi a day after winning the prize for her work in human rights and reversing deforestation across Africa.
"It's true that there are some people who create agents to wipe out other people. If there were no such people, we could have not have invaded Iraq," she said.
"We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had made, or was in the process of creating agents of biological warfare," said Maathai, also Kenyan deputy environment and natural resources minister, who has gained a reputation as a fearless speaker.
"In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare," she added.
"Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious," Maathai added.
Africa accounts for 25 million out of the estimated 38 million people across the world infected with HIV, and the vast majority of infected Africans are women, according to UNAIDS estimates.
The United States on Friday congratulated Maathai on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but tempered its praise over her claims about AIDS.
"She said (HIV/AIDS) was invented as a bioweapon in some laboratory in the West," a senior State Department official said. "We don't agree with that."
The official pointed to a report of those comments published in August in Kenya's daily Standard newspaper, in which Maathai was quoted as saying that HIV/AIDS was created by scientists for the purpose of mass extermination.
"We know that the developed nations are using biological warfare, leaving guns to the primitive people," the Standard quoted Maathai as telling a public workshop in the central Kenyan town of Nyeri on August 30.
"They have the resources to do this."
"AIDS (is) not a curse from God to Africans or the black people," she said, according to the paper's account of the meeting published a day later.
"It is a tool to control them designed by some evil-minded scientists, but we may not know who particularly did."
"Why is the rest of the world just watching, doing nothing while Africans are being wiped out? The rest of the world has abandoned us," Maathai said in this Saturday's issue of Standard.
Maathai, 64, was honored by the Nobel committee for standing at the "front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa."
In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, the largest tree-planting project in Africa aimed at promoting biodiversity and at the same time creating jobs and giving women a stronger identity in society.
Voted Time Magazine's "Hero of the Planet" in 1998 and a household name in her country, Maathai has vowed to use the cash award that comes with the award to promote her environment campaigns.