African poet, playwright, human rights worker and Poland’s ‘celebrity’ refugee, has been arrested for deliberately spreading HIV to ‘at least’ 100 women in Warsaw.
This story, to anyone who knows the guy, stinks.
The newspapers Dziennik and tabloid Fakt (both owned by the German Axel Springer publisher), splashed headlines all over their front pages today claiming ‘He infected 100 women’!
On the inside pages they describe ‘Simon M’ - a refugee from Cameroon who has won numerous awards for both his artistic and humanitarian work - as a charming charlatan, who knowingly infected unsuspecting girls with the virus.
He would seduce them at artistic parties, he would stop girls in the street and ask them for directions!
The opening paragraph of the Fakt story:
‘Tender words by this well-read, black skinned lover have deceived many Warsaw girls. But Simon only had one thing on his mind – drag them to bed and infect them with the deadly virus HIV.’
I love the ‘black skinned lover’ bit. Later the article says:
‘It’s known that he has seduced at least 100 women.’
Apparently, the accusations that Simon has HIV, knew had HIV, and then deliberately tried to infect ‘at least 100 women’ with HIV, began to circulate on internet forums of arty types in the capital – see poezja.org and teatr.pl (he is a playwright and poet, remember!) when someone posted that he ‘is conscious that he has HIV, but lies, and without scruples knowingly sentences girls to death’!
This ‘warning’ went unheard until December, when the panic began to build after someone responded:
‘I am one of the infected women that you write about. THIS MAN SPREADS HIV.’
On the main evening TVN news the police said that they had received ‘numerous calls’ from women who had been with Simon (is this where the ‘100’ figure comes from?). Four women who have tested positive for HIV (following reading the forums?) had unprotected sex with the guy. He ‘doesn’t like condoms’, said the TV reporter pruriently.
Africans + AIDS + Poland = racism
These allegations will not come as a shock to Simon, sadly. On his web site on Feb 26, 2006, he wrote:
Some three-years ago, my [Polish] girlfriend was forced by her parents to split with me after a 12-month affair. They couldn’t tolerate the fact that their daughter was dating an African. After our split she was further compelled by her relatives to undergo an HIV test to verify her medical state after this ‘unclean affair’ with an African. She did the test, which emerged negative.
As I said, this story smells bad...
Though the article in Fakt claims that the rumours of Simon spreading the disease started last June, it seems that they emerged much earlier. In February last he writes:
Character assassination isn’t a new phenomenon. However, it appears here the game respects no rules. It wouldn’t be superfluous to state that there is an ingrained, hash and disturbing dislike for Africans here. The accusation of being HIV positive is the latest weapon that as an African your enemy can raise against you. This ideologically inspired weapon, is strengthened by the day with disturbing literature about Africa from supposed-experts on Africa, some of whom openly boast of traveling across Africa in two weeks and return home to write volumes. What some of these hastily compiled volumes have succeeded in breeding, is a social and psychological conviction that ‘every African walking the street here is supposedly HIV positive, and woe betide anyone who dares to unravel the myth being put in place.
Anyone who knows Simon – and I have met him several times – finds these accusations incredible, in all meanings of the word.
He is described in the newspapers as a sensitive, intelligent, educated person – and that’s exactly how he seems to me. He is here as a refugee after being persecution in his own country.
Since being in Poland he has played a very active part in various anti-racism campaigns, has had books of poems published and plays put on in the theatre. He has also been a tireless worker with other refugees and those seeking refugee status in Poland (governments here have been completely unprepared for these people, so someone has to help them).
The accusations against him are that:
a) has HIV
b) knows that he has HIV
c) had unprotected sex with women when he knew he had HIV
d) did not tell them he had HIV,
e) and certainly in the FAKT article, tried to infect them with HIV
f) and then when confronted by the women after they discovered points a to e lied about the having HIV in the first place.
If found guilty he could face up to 12 years in jail.
But how we know any of this is not clear at all from the media reports.
Simon is pleading not guilty, of course. It's like one of those off-the-peg stories Polish tabloid journos dream of: 'Black African artistic seducer infects innocent Polish girls with HIV!!!
Knowledge about HIV – and Africans, for that matter - is very limited here. Just ripe for a scare story.
These are very serious allegations, of course, and the fate of not just Simon M but the image of African refugees in Poland rests on the outcome.
Ominously, in February 2006, Simon seemed to know what was coming:
As an activist, I know I have set myself on the firing line.