NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH AT SOAS (London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies)
by Joan Shenton – Immunity Resource Foundation
Anne Sono’s film I won’t go Quietly was due to be screened at SOAS Khalili Lecture Theatre on Friday 25th April at 6 pm. The film tells the story of 6 women who were diagnosed HIV-positive and their struggle to resist antiviral medication and to continue to breastfeed on the grounds that the science behind the infectious hypothesis for HIV/AIDS is flawed and that testing positive to HIV does not mean they have been infected by a transmissible virus.
Eleonor Veness from a SOAS group called “Women for Women International” was hosting the event but the screening was cancelled at the last minute on Friday afternoon. This came as a shock to Anne, who had just flown in from Germany, and to all of the people who turned up for the screening. Many had already been put off by messages on the SOAS Students’ Union website. Ben Goldacre, science writer for the Guardian, had tweeted the following and this was repeated by the charity “Stop AIDS”.
Nobody from “Women for Women International” was willing to come and speak to Anne. A panel discussion had been planned for Q & A’s after the screening. This involved Mike Hersee of Heal London and Joan Shenton of the Immunity Resource Foundation. Joan Shenton arrived and heard the news, she asked that a representative from the Students Union and from SOAS administration come down to speak to them.
The General Manager of the Students’ Union, Peter Baron, came down to the reception area. He said,
The screening was cancelled by “Women for Women International”.
However when Anne spoke to Eleanor Veness on the telephone, Eleanor said it was the SOAS Students’ Union who had cancelled the event.
The deputy Director of SOAS also came to speak to us and said he could do nothing to reinstate the event. He said he would investigate the situation on Monday.
Comments on various websites since Friday say that SOAS was misled by Anne Sono about the content of the film. Anne denies this saying she had provided details about the film on her website from the start.
The students Union website SOAS Rants denounces the film using words like “denialist”, “quackery”, and “ideas like this can kill people”. There was a threat to demonstrate outside the screening theatre if it was allowed to go ahead.
Anne and the panel consider that SOAS has denied freedom of speech to the women featured in her film and has succumbed to pressure from interested groups who support the current scientific orthodox position on AIDS, many of whom receive funds directly or indirectly from pharmaceutical companies producing HIV test kits and antiviral drugs.