HIV ‘Created by Scientist’ for Biological Warfare, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Says
Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai -- who on Friday became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize -- on Saturday repeated her previous claims that HIV was "created by a scientist for biological warfare," AFP/Yahoo! News reports. In August, Kenya's East African Standard quoted Maathai as saying that HIV/AIDS was created by scientists "for the purpose of mass extermination," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "We know that the developed nations are using biological warfare, leaving guns to primitive people. They have the resources to do this," the Standard quoted Maathai as saying during a workshop on Aug. 30 in the central Kenyan town of Nyeri, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "AIDS is not a curse from God to Africans or the black people. It is a tool to control them designed by some evil-minded scientists, but we may not know who particularly did," she added, according to the Standard, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/9) Saturday, Maathai repeated her belief that HIV was deliberately "devised to destroy black people," according to Reuters. She added that her comments published in the Standard were "intended to promote an inquiring attitude" toward HIV/AIDS among Africans and "combat the fatalistic notion that it was a curse from God," Reuters reports. "Would you solve the problem if you believed it was a curse from God?" Maathai asked, adding that she was "encouraging people to ask questions." Although Maathai said she never indicated that a specific region or nation was responsible for creating HIV/AIDS, she is "suspicious" about the "secrecy surrounding the origin of the virus," according to Reuters. "Some people say it came from the monkeys, and I doubt it. ... But I say it cannot be that only black people are cursed because we are dying more than any other people on this planet, and that's a fact" (Kanina, Reuters, 10/9).
Although the United States "congratulated" Maathai on Friday for winning the Nobel Prize, officials also "tempered [their] praise" about her claims that HIV/AIDS was created as a biological weapon, according to South Africa's Star. "She's had many long years of environmental activism," Department of State spokesperson Richard Boucher said, adding, "We're delighted to see that she's the first African woman to have been selected for this unique honor." However, an unnamed State Department senior official said that the department "vehemently" objected to Maathai's comments concerning the origin of HIV, the Star reports. "She said HIV/AIDS was invented as a bioweapon in some laboratory in the West," the official said, adding, "We don't agree with that" (Star, 10/9). Maathai -- Kenya's assistant minister of the environment and founder of the country's Green Belt movement that aims to promote biodiversity and gender equity -- was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for standing at the "front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa," according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/9).