NYSNA President Verlia M. Brown has sent a letter to Ali Aujali, Libyan ambassador to the United States, to protest the death sentence of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on charges of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV. A Libyan court issued the death sentence in late December despite evidence from scientists that children had contracted the virus prior it the medical workers’ arrival in Libya in March 1998. The six already have served seven years in jail. Government officials and healthcare organizations throughout the world have expressed their outrage over the sentencing.
Full text of the letter:
An Open Letter to Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali
The Honorable Ali Aujali
Permanent Mission Of The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
309 East 48th Street
New York, NY 10017
I am writing to you as President of the New York State Nurses Association, the oldest and largest professional association for registered nurses in the United States. As a registered professional nurse in critical care for more than 36 years, I urge you to use your influence to rescind the death sentence of five Bulgarian RNs and a medical doctor from Palestine who have been imprisoned in your country since 1999.
These medical professionals have been accused of infecting over 400 Libyan children with the HIV virus. Scientists have shown, however, that infection control problems at the hospital exposed these children to the HIV long before the arrival of the foreign healthcare professionals.
Mr. Aujali, in a recent interview you gave to Foreign Affairs magazine, you hailed the greatness of America and its people. Much of this greatness comes from the rights and liberties that are guaranteed in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
If Libya wishes to join the community of nations, it must ensure justice for the nurses that came to your country to care for all, regardless of color, creed, race, background or borders.
I ask you, on behalf of the New York State Nurses Association, to support the immediate release the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor so they can be reunited with their families.
Verlia M. Brown, MA, RN, C
President, New York State Nurses Association
With more than 34,000 members, NYSNA is the oldest and largest state nurses’ association in the nation. It is an influential union for RNs, representing nurses in New York and New Jersey. Offering a wide range of services to its members, NYSNA fosters high standards of nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. It is a constituent of the American Nurses Association and of the United American Nurses, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.