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第15回国際エイズ会議参加報告書

HIVと人権・情報センター/第7回アジア・太平洋地域エイズ国際会議コミュニティ・フォーラム
ケイトリン・ストローネル

‘Learn from those who live it’
~ the message from Communities in the Global Village

 The role of ‘the community’ becomes more and more major in each successive International AIDS Conference. The power of the local Thai NGOs and the political committment to the community program (the co-chair was a Thai Senator, Mechai Viravaidya, who is internationally renowned for his AIDS activities) meant that the Bangkok Conference was no exception.


 ‘The Community’ at AIDS Conferences is loosely defined as groups of people who are most directly and most personally affected by HIV/AIDS. It includes, of course, people actually living with HIV/AIDS as well as members of so-called ‘vulnerable communities’ such as youth, sex workers, people who use drugs, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups and mobile populations.

  In Bangkok, the place where all of these communities and more, made themselves most noticeable was perhaps in the ‘Global Village.’ This was an area of 7,500 square metres where 16 different groups organised their own ‘networking bars.’ There were various different styles?for example, the sex workers’ group had a bar which resembled the place of work for many of them-a circular bar where visitors would sit with a stage on top of the bar where the sex workers would dance. The Migrant Lounge was more like a typical Asian house, with mats on the floor to sit on and have meetings etc. The Youth Lounge had many colored bean-bags for people to sit on and watch videos, talk or take part in any of the many activities that were available, as well as free internet access. There was also an Elderly People’s Lounge. Elderly people are perhaps not usually associated with HIV/AIDS, but this makes the stigma even worse for elderly people who are HIV positive. Also grandmothers and grandfathers often care for grandchildren whose parents have dies of AIDS, making them a group that is very much affected by HIV. The Elderly People’s Lounge had a very relaxed atmosphere where people were sitting around, again on mats and cushions on the floor, drinking cups of tea.

  Another important feature of the Global Village was that people who were NOT conference delegates were still able to enter. The US$ 1,000 registration fee for the conference was restrictive for many people, especially NGOs in Thailand but these community groups were still able to participate and network, as were many school groups and general citizens who wanted to learn about HIV/AIDS. They were also able to access the conference in sessions held on the Global Village main stage such as ‘Meet the Plenary Speakers’ which was held everyday from 1.00 to 1.45. This provided everyone, delegates and non-delegates alike, with an opportunity to hear what the plenary speakers had to say and to question them. The Global Village was not only important as an opportunity for Thai NGOs to access the conference, it was also important for conference delegates to be able to meet with the Thai community so directly. The slogan for the Global Village was ‘learn from those who live it’ and we were certainly able to do just that.

Advocacy Parade

  Another way the Thai communities communicated their message was through the Advocacy Parade, which was held on July 14 in central Bangkok. Buses took participants from the Global Village to the starting point and about 3,000 people marched through central Bangkok to Lumpini Park where a tree was planted and a rally was held. Participants in the Advocacy Parade were from many different groups?monks and other religious figures, a group of 10 year old school children, as well as all the community groups mentioned above. I was impressed by the broad cross-section of groups participating, not all of them directly related to HIV/AIDS and also the way the bystanders, who were watching the parade pass in the street, were also included through people from the parade handing them condoms.

  Another interesting factor was that the parade very much resembled a festival, both in atmosphere and in some of the costumes. This made it very easy for everybody to join in, and was perhaps one of the reasons why such a broad cross-section of people were participating.

Towards ICAAP

  While there is a significant difference between the number and energy of HIV/AIDS related NGOs in Thailand and Japan, I think there are many things we can learn from Bangkok and should at least try to incorporate in the7th ICAAP, to be held next year in Kobe, if on a somewhat smaller scale.

  In terms of trying to involve as broad a section of the people of Kobe as possible in the Conference, it is important that the general public have as much access as possible to ICAAP. Having a parallel ‘Citizen Forum’ along the lines of the Global Village in Bangkok, where Japanese citizens can freely come and participate and where they can hear about what is going on in ICAAP is very important if the citizens of Kobe are to welcome the conference.

  Networking between Japanese NGOs and Asia/Pacific NGOs would be another function of this ‘Forum.’ There are corresponding focal point NGOs for each of the Asia- Pacific Seven Sister networks in Japan, so allowing each of these networks their own space, to be decorated as they like and managed by the NGO, as in the Global Village would be ideal, although there many be limitations on Japanese NGOs. I think this would be very empowering for Japanese NGOs if it was possible.

  I also think having something along the lines of an advocacy parade involving groups other than HIV/AIDS groups, in the spirit of a festival would be a great idea for the HIV/AIDS message to broaden out to different people and also for our non-Japanese guests to experience a Japanese festival!

  Finally, I would like to say that the energy and power of the entire Community Program in Bangkok has been very inspirational and will be a vital driving force for me as I, as Community Forum Chair, in turn try to inspire Japanese NGOs to use the precious opportunity of ICAAP for advocacy and networking with our Asia-Pacific friends.