On June 26th, 2013, the Day of Action within ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ campaign took place in 41 cities around the globe (London, Bournemouth (all in UK), Bangkok (Thailand), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Port Louis (Mauritius), Budapest (Hungary), Paris (France), Nairobi (Kenya), Dodoma (Tanzania), Jakarta, Jambi, Bandung, Surabaya, Medan, Palembang, Sukabumi, Cirebon, Pontianak, Bengkulu, Makassar, Denpasar, Mataram (all in Indonesia), Tuzla, Mostar, Zenica (all in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mexico City (Mexico), Seville (Spain), Ohrid (Macedonia), Beirut (Lebanon), Tbilisi (Georgia), Delhi, Chennai, Imphal, Longleng, Meghalaya (all in India), Moscow (Russia), Oslo (Norway), Pokhara, Kathmandu (all in Nepal), Kiev (Ukraine), Bucharest (Romania)) to express solidarity with harm reduction approaches and condemn punitive policies towards people who inject drugs.
Ann Fordham of International Drug Policy Consortium stated 'It was an incredible success with so many people across the globe taking part and amplifying the message of the campaign. We are looking forward to working with our partners to build on this and take 'Support. Don't Punish.' to the next level.'
We provide highlights of the events on the campaign website and here.
In Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, over 100 activists gathered on Mykhailivska square to demand funding for harm reduction services from the national budget and to condemn the punitive policies that criminalize very small quantities of drug for personal consumption fuelling Ukraine prisons with young injectors.
Representatives of International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs, harm reduction NGOs, human rights advocates voiced their concerns over the situation in Ukraine and government inaction. They were joined by representatives of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Michel Kazatchkine and former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski who were attending a high level meeting on Ukraine drug policy and supported the activists in their global call.
Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) in collaboration with other NGOs gathered at Pavilion Shopping Centre at Bukit Bintang district in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Day of Action within ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ campaign. Despite of rain, MAC still managed to gather about 40 supporters who were wearing the ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ T-shirts and obtained support from public whereby the banners were signed.
The activities for the Day of Action in Kenya were supported by Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO), through the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. The event was held in Kawangware district of Nairobi and Watamu-Coast in Kenya.
The activities started with a road show on a truck reminding people on the commemoration of this important day, and discussing ‘Support, Don’t Punish’. The messages adopted locally for the banners for the event were ‘Don’t Stigmatize us, understand and support us’ and ‘Right to Health is Respect to Human Rights’. These messages were suggested by members of KeNPUD. The truck also had several placards displaying the ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ logo.
The main event was held at an open field, open to members of the public. In attendance at the event were KANCO’s Executive Director and KANCO staff, representatives from Medecines du Monde (MdM), National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), Support for Addictions Prevention and Treatment in Africa (SAPTA), United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and KeNPUD members. They highlighted issues of drug use and the importance of health services for people involved in drug use, as well as efforts to control drug use.
A short skit was performed to highlight the plight people who use drugs (PUD) face when they encounter harsh laws and policies and a hostile social environment, and how these would go a long way in hindering them from accessing necessary health services.
Recovering as well as active PUD were given a chance to talk about the changes they had experienced in their lives as a result of drug use, and the challenges they faced.
The procession was then flagged off officially, and went round with performances and messages on the need to be supportive to PUD and assist them in accessing the necessary health services. Throughout the event, fliers with information on the health needs of PUD were distributed to the community. Overall, the attendance was great, and PUD were given a chance to discuss setbacks they face in accessing health services.
India HIV/AIDS Alliance conducted large group meetings with PWID at 3 sites in Delhi:
- Yamuna Bazaar (Hridaya site): meeting was conducted with a group of about 50 PWID and a few project staffs around the ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ campaign. PWID spoke out freely about cases of violence and abuse they are facing at the hands of not only the local police but the local goons as well. There was also discussion on the law and PWID’s rights in terms of sentencing for drug offences.
- Jahangirpuri: this busy site raised eyebrows of the local populace as campaign supporters gathered together on the open roads and marched down. There were now about 70 supporters including the staff members. Access to treatment, OST, health issues were discussed there.
- Neb Sarai: this was the site of a short stay home facility for PWID where there were at least 35 gathered to attend the concluding programme of the ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ campaign event. Ms. Tripti Tandon of the Lawyers Collective engaged in a Q&A session on rights, drug use and the law.
Also a protest march was carried out at Jantar Mantar and Red Fort in New Delhi. A group of about 70-80 PWID and project staff members along with Indian Drug Users Forum representatives carrying placards and banners marched down the road distributing campaign statements and tagging people with the campaign sticker. Unlike other protests, the team observed a silent march with the aim to bring the issues of PWID to the notice of policy and decision makers and the general public as well for policy reforms and the promotion of health and human rights of people. The demonstration ran into a little trouble with the local police who enquired about the permission which the India HIV/AIDS Alliance did not have. However, after explaining to the police about the campaign they agreed to let the group continue the demonstration if they did not disrupt the ongoing traffic on the road.
In Indonesia 400 PWID gathered for the Day of Action in 6 locations: Lombok, Bandung, Cirebon, Sukabumi, Bali and Bogor. During the Day activists carried out marches, walking to the government offices for advocacy activities, conducted street demonstrations, disseminating information on the campaign and distributing stickers and flowers, broadcasted with a radio talk-show and conducted meetings with high-level officials including the province governor, the city major, police and prosecutor officials. In Bandung the event was opened by the Governor of West Java.