This is a video of the global protest that was held on World AIDS day 2011, in around 12 cities around the world, led by the drug using community and INPUD, the International Network of People who Use Drugs -protesting against to the Russian government’s shameful inaction regarding the drugs and HIV catastrophe unfolding in the region.
All posts in category Campaigns
Posted by Erin on January 29, 2012
On Dec 1st, 2011, World Aids day, people in 8 countries around the world will descend on Russian Embassies -To protest at the criminal treatment of people who use drugs – in the biggest catastrophe in the history of HIV in recent times. (See below for where and when).
In Russia today, we are bearing witness to one of the biggest, avoidable catastrophes in the history of HIV – the lack of response to the epidemic in Russia. We must point directly to the specific responsibility that Russian medical and public health officials bear for creating and sustaining this disastrous situation. Of particular concern are Russia’s, brutalising drug policies and its recently revised Total War on Drugs, which has resulted in further pushing people who use drugs into hiding, prison, and enforced detention, and severely compromising efforts from the international community to revert the trajectory of HIV/AIDS. The world is approaching a crossroads; a strong and decisive downward trajectory in the epidemic is possible in all countries -but it will only happen if the people who are most vulnerable to infection are supported and their human rights realised. Governments have legal obligations to act. Indeed, the implementation of harm reduction measures is consistant with and required by states obligations under international human rights law. 1,2.
Injecting drugs with contaminated equipment is driving Russia’s HIV epidemic, now the fastest growing in the world and it is reflected in the numbers; as many as 80% of new infections are occurring amongst people who inject drugs (PWID), in a total HIV positive population of approx 1million. With this in mind, recent projections forecast an additional 5 million people could become infected with HIV in the near future, unless Russia transforms the way it is dealing with its HIV pandemic.6
With over 30,000 people dying from drug overdoses every year, numbers that can be shown to markedly reduce with the implementation of OST, and 150 becoming infected with HIV each day (2/3rds of which are injecting drug users), also evidenced to drastically reduce with the roll out of Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP), it is upon everyone who cares about humanity, to demand an immediate transformational shift in Russia’s approach to HIV prevention and its treatment of drug users. Access to NSP and OST is in itself, a human right; UN Ruman Rights Monitors have specifically stated harm reduction interventions as necessary for states to comply with the right to health. 5)
or (add your email/website)
1) UNIDCP Flexibility of Treaty positions as regards harm redcution approaches, decision 74/10 Geneva UN 2002 ,
2) UNODC World Drug Report Vienna 2009
3) Lancet July 2010 HIV in people who use Drugs
4) The right to the highest attainable standard of health; Article 12, comment 14 International Covenent on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights 2000
5) Barrett D et al; Harm Reduction and Human Rights, the Global response to drug related HIV Epidemics. London, HRI, 2009
6) News Release, Oct 7th 2011, Risk of HIV Hitting Catastrophic Levels; from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Eurasian Harm Reduction Network; Harm Reduction International;
7) Articles 228-233 of the Russian Criminal Code
- Protest at Russian Embassies Worldwide: Dec 1st World Aids Day (russianembassyprotest.wordpress.com)
- Russia at risk of HIV Hitting Catastrophic Levels (russianembassyprotest.wordpress.com)
- Shame Russia Shame! (russianembassyprotest.wordpress.com)
- Denis Matveev: Drugs as a tool for political repression (inpud.wordpress.com)
- A young Russian with a message you can’t forget. (blackpoppymag.wordpress.com)
Posted by Erin on November 14, 2011
Many of us have been listening with trepidation as our favourite pot smoking friends on the continent -the Dutch – the ones who gave us sanctuary in the form of a safe place to buy dope when abroad, and a friendly environment to smoke it in, without the fear of getting busted, deported, imprisoned or ripped off are now slowly being forced to close their doors to us. Yes, that’s right- the foreigners who have appreciated being able to sample a well produced product, toked, eaten or vapourised in a chilled out, social environment – have always been grateful for the civilised and pragmatic way the Dutch have shared with us their wares. A welcome relief from the persecution and harassment many of us experience at home around ‘soft’ (and ‘hard’) drug use.
It never ceased to amaze me when visiting Holland that it was always the milder varieties of dope that were the biggest sellers to the Dutch people, they just didnt feel like they had to get smashed at every opportunity. They knew where the dope was, it wasn’t going anywhere, they could get the stronger stuff any time they wanted it in fact, which it turned out, was not that often.
A giggly smoke, some great conversation, a serious munch out on the way home and voila, gone is the image we have in the UK of smoking skunk that always too strong, sitting catatonic in front of the TV, curtains drawn, paranoia setting in indoors coz its illegal to go outside and just be social with a spliff…
However, due to surrounding countries still not budging with their own punitive cannabis laws, it is inevitable that many of us in neighbouring countries – or as far afield as Australia and the US, feel compelled at times to skippity hop across the border to stock up on some of the good stuff, in a relaxed and hassle free exchange. But those who’ve been keeping an eye on the Dutch developments around both the shrinking the availability of Coffee Shops, as well as the drive to freeze out the pot smoking foreigner, will know that the first door, in the first city of Maastricht, has been firmly slammed shut.
The city of Maastricht, which is about 130 miles south of Amsterdam (towards the German border) is the first place – (though unlikely to be the last) which has just begun to expell what it sees as the boisterous drug tourists who clog up the streets, engage in street dealing and petty crime, and regularly cause traffic jams. Determined to prevent them from accessing Maastricht’s coffee shops, hi-tech security scanners have been set up to check passports and ID cards, and police will carry out random checks.
In an effort to bring the coffee shop owners themselves on board with the governments cunning plan, only the Dutch, the Belgians and Germans will be permitted to cross the smokey threshold due to the fact that they make up the largest part of the 6000 customers who pop in to light up every day. The irony here is of course that if the vast majority of the 6000 smoking tourists visiting coffee shops in the Netherlands are indeed German and Belgian, how will this go any way to reduce the numbers of ‘drug tourists’ clogging up their streets? There is always more to these drug stories dear readers, so do check back to our earlier story on the Netherlands Coffee Shop ban to uncover a little more about the politics behind it.
However, what can be more easily deduced from this sinister exercise is that blackmarket sales of hash and grass will certainly increase, sold to the illegal alien up a back alley all because his passport won’t allow him to enter the smokey but safe environment of a Maastricht Coffee Shop. Let’s hope our British, Spanish or French friend doesn’t get ripped off, end up in a scuffle or get arrested – after all the cultivation and sale of ‘soft’ drugs is decriminalised – but not legal so one might well stilll end up in the boob.
With over 700 coffee shops across The Netherlands, correspondents say the Dutch justice ministry wants them to operate like members’ only clubs, serving only local residents. Yet despite previous difficulties when trying to enshrine such an exclusive ban in law, The European Court of Justice ruled last December that Dutch authorities could indeed bar foreigners from cannabis-selling coffee shops on the grounds that they were combating drug tourism.
Check out the video above – it’s the lead story -and follow the link to NORMLs website, which is full of video debates, vox pops and discussions on the world of cannabis.
- Dutch city bans ‘drug tourists’ (bbc.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Tourists face Dutch ‘coffee shop’ curb (bbc.co.uk)
- Dutch city to move three cannabis cafes to outskirts (expatica.com)
- The Dutch Debate “Drug Tourism” (webnerhouse.com)
Posted by Erin on October 4, 2011
More exceptional work by the gang from HCLU
Posted by Erin on September 20, 2011
A concise piece from the terrific HCLU on Needle Exchange Programmes and why they are so important, interviewing New Yorks finest at the organisation run by the Harm Reduction Coalition, who have been serving the needs of NYC’s injectors for decades, preventing HIV and HCV from escalating on a massive scale, why oh why are we still having to argue the necessity of NEPs in 2011???
- Fresno’s underground needle exchange program (framework.latimes.com)
- Free crack pipes on tap in Canada: Will effort save lives? (cbsnews.com)
Posted by Erin on September 20, 2011
A Dealer’s Certificate of Standards
I, [who cannot be named for legal reasons] hereby declare to adhere to certain standards within my trade and promise to do what is
right and fair inasmuch that is permitted by my [ i l l e g a l] profession.
I hereby swear to the following:
When mixing up any powder or liquids/ I promise do it on a clean surface, with a clean blade/card/ in as clean wraps/bags as I can manage. If I must keep my wares hidden in socks/pants/pockets/mouth/arse/ I shall be especially vigilant as to how they are wrapped and ensure they are covered at least 3 times and sealed properly, and shall work to find the most robust method of wrapping to avoid contamination by bacterium. I shall always try and use a cool/ dark and dry place to store/hide my wares to avoid any contamination and moisture.
I promise to not lie about the time I will take to deliver my wares to my customers/ or to leave my customers standing on street corners for ridiculous lengths of time/ especially in winter.
I promise to treat my customers with dignity and respect whenever possible. I will not fall prey to the traps of ‘powder power’ and will never lord my wares over customers less fortunate than myself. I will never take advantage of women or men for drugs. If customers are straight-up with me, (possibly leaving some room for small abberations when junksick) I will always try and be reasonable in return. I do however, always reserve the right to ditch a grass no matter how long I’ve known them…
I will abide by the knowledge that overdoses occur more frequently for those just out of prison or rehab and will always endeavour to tell such customers the risks involved. I shall never sell a person their first ‘hit’ and will do what I can to dissuade the young and inexperienced.
I will never cut any powders or liquids with anything I believe to be harmful or unclean. I will always use the safest cuts on the market and will keep abreast of developments regarding the safest cuts available/ only if cutting is necessary.
I promise not to be overly tight about giving credit to regular customers and if I know they are sick or desperate/ 1 promise to afford regular customers at least one bag on tick.
(print out and…) Sign or stamp here
(from BP issue 10)
- 3 easy suggestions to build a better business Customer Expectations, Promises and Regret (customerthink.com)
Posted by Erin on September 20, 2011
With each and every day Russia loses more of the plot, and takes the lives and hopes of people who use drugs, with it…
Please.DO NOT MISS THIS ARTICLE. people around the world must learn more and more about the barbaric, lunacy Russia inflicts on people who use drugs. Brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins,children,mums…dragged away from their families to a Russian prison full of disease and death. No methadone, no Hepatitis C treatment, only one in 5 who need it get ARV treatment (which is stopped in prison) , people locked up for supplying clean needles and syringes, distributing harm reduction information, (especially users), and for distributing methadone. The EECA region is at the.centre of megaepidemics in the IDU Community, for reasons of ignorance, arrogance,.corruption and vested interests. Follow the story, and do what u can to pick it up and tell the world. This must not continue for another minute.
Posted by Erin on June 18, 2011
Russia’s Aleksey Kurmanaevskiy speech delivered at the UN High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS in New York – June 9 2011 by INPUD on Thursday, 09 June 2011 at 18:33:
INPUD is a global peer-based organisation that seeks to promote the health and defend the rights of people who use drugs. We will expose and challenge stigma, discrimination and the criminalisation of people who use drugs and its impact on our community’s health and rights. We will achieve this through processes of empowerment and international advocacy. Find us at: http://www.inpud.net, Facebook/INPUD, Twitter/INPUD. Blog at: http://www.inpud.wordpress.comThe following speech was delivered by Aleksey Kurmanaevskiy at A dialogue on HIV and Human Rights at: Universal Access for Key Affected Populations. This event was hosted by the United Kingdom and the Republic of South Africa together with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This session took place at the High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS at the United Nations in New York City.
Aleksey is from Russia and is 30 years old. He has been dependent on drugs for 15 years, and has been living with HIV for 11 years. He is a member of the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and will speak with you today for people who inject drugs, those who are living with HIV\AIDS, and for the members of the drug using community who are no longer with us because of HIV\AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, and drug Overdoses.
Text of Aleksey’s speech:
Q1 – Highlight key challenge or obstacle & successful action or approach:
I would like to call to attention the laws and practices that are based on the criminalization of people who use drugs and the consequences of these measures. In our opinion, the practice of imprisoning people who use drugs in order to deny them their freedom or subjecting them to coerced treatment for the personal use of drugs should be ended. Imprisonment and coerced treatment are clear breaches of human rights that undermine the public health of people who use drugs and the wider community.
The criminalisation of people who use drugs and the widespread stigma and discrimination against our community results in people hiding and living in fear and secrecy. This can cut people off from family support and drives people further into problem drug use. As such, punitive laws can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies with my community and undermine access to and retention in services. As a result, punitive laws are costly and ineffective.
The introduction of science-based harm reduction interventions like needle and syringe programmes, opioid substitution therapy (OST), and overdose management programmes is saving the lives of my community in many countries in the world. We have the experience, the evidence and tools to end concentrated epidemics of HIV among people who inject drugs. 30 years of evidence demonstrates that OST radically improves the health and wellbeing of people who take drugs and supports our engagement in HIV and TB treatment. Significantly OST gives people who are dependent on heroin and other opiate drugs an alternative to crime and allows us to fully participate in and contribute to society. History has shown that when people who use drugs are involved in the design, development and delivery of HIV prevention interventions, the reach is greater, the quality is higher and there is better value for money.
Q2 – 1 or 2 key recommendations to HLM on practical way forward:
I am a husband and father of two sons and very much want peace and mutual understanding within my family. I learned that it is absolutely critical to listen to my loved ones. Before agreeing on a solution, we consider all of the possible alternatives. The very welfare of our family depends upon this process of open dialogue.
I have drawn this analogy deliberately. The family can be viewed as a microcosm of society. We are all members of one global family. Though we all have unique worldviews, customs, and ways of life, there is no doubt that we have to deal with the HIV epidemic together. The foundation of such mutual understanding through dialogue is the first step in this process.
Around the world people who inject drugs are giving sterile injecting equipment to their friends, are sharing education and knowledge and supporting service access. At a global and regional level drug user organisations are supporting consultation and contributing to policy development. At a country level we can provide a community watch dog function helping donors to spend money wisely and programmers to deliver services effectively.
Our challenge to all countries is meaningfully involve people who use drugs in the design, implementation and monitoring of the HIV response. If you are serious about engaging us as true partners then this has include the resourcing of our organisations and the meaningful participation of our representatives. This is key to reversing the trajectory of the HIV epidemic and bringing under control the spiraling costs of HIV. It is time to stop framing my community always as the problem and instead to recognise that we are a key part of the solution to HIV.
- A very brief encounter with a declaration (inpud.wordpress.com)
- INPUD News on the Move (inpud.wordpress.com)
- Are we still on track? UN meeting on HIV and AIDS (passionistsinternational.wordpress.com)
- Alexi Speaks to Governments in New York (inpud.wordpress.com)
- The Civil Society Hearings on HIV/AIDS at the United Nations April 2011 – Part 1 (inpud.wordpress.com)
- Human Rights: A La The European Union Style (donttradeourlivesaway.wordpress.com)
Posted by Erin on June 16, 2011
Check out this brilliant short film by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, – The worlds drug lords went to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the UN to publicly thank them for 50 years of prohibition – and why not?! It’s made them richer than their wildest dreams…And what do we have to show for the drug policy exported by the US to the rest of the world?? A massive black market that funds crime, violence and wars. Millions of people who use drugs languishing in prisons across the globe, (in many countries drug users make up the majority of the people in prison), 3 million people who inject drugs infected with HIV, millions more with Hepatitis C, murders, corruption, young people on the streets, communities and families torn apart. Of all the trillions of dollars being poured into the war on drugs, and it is this very war that is killing the people it is supposed to be protecting. We need to change our drug policies NOW. But these guys – and the United Nations wouldn’t agree…
Check it out! Well done HCLU. (interviews with HCLU, Youthrise International Network of People who Use Drugs, US Harm reduction Coalition.
Posted by Erin on April 20, 2011