Respectful Insolence

I wrote last week about the Tripoli Six, six health care workers who were jailed by Libya on trumped up charges of infecting patients at a hospital they worked at with HIV. Since then, many other have chimed in, and the most recent count of blog posts about this case is well over 100. According to Nature, this attention is starting to have an effect:

Bloggers have rallied around a call from a humanitarian lawyers’ organization for greater international pressure to free six medical workers who risk execution by firing squad in Libya on charges of deliberately infecting over 400 children with HIV.

The lawyers’ call, relayed by Nature in an editorial on 21 September (see ‘Libya’s travesty‘), has since prompted at least 100 blog postings on the medical workers’ case, with links to more detailed information. Some have also started letter-writing campaigns to politicians.

The movement, which began primarily with science bloggers, spread over the weekend to some of major US political blogs, including several posts on the Daily Kos, which is the world’s most highly-ranked political blog according to the Technorati blog search engine, and has around half a million readers daily. The Daily Kos articles in turn have been linked to by more conservative blogs such as Instapundit.

“The penetration of this story in the science blogging world has been phenomenal,” says ‘Revere‘, a contributor to the blog Effect Measure, which is run by anonymous senior US epidemiologists.

The story’s spread to both left and right-leaning political blogs is “significant”, says Revere, as it suggests that the issue could gain non-partisan support in the United States.

For more information, Mickey Grant has made his 2003 documentary about the plight of the Tripoli Six available by streaming video, as reported by Declan Butler. It’s not to be missed. (Note: there is a test pattern at the beginning that lasts a while. Hopefully they’ll clean that up in future iterations.)

If you want to know what you can do to help, The Questionable Authority has specific suggestions, along with addresses and contact information, as does Effect Measure.