Remembrance Day Statement -
Written by International Network of People who Use Drugs
Today is the International Day to remember our loved ones who have died as a result of prohibition. They have died unnecessarily as a result of criminalisation, stigmatisation, and the social exclusion that has resulted from the war on people who use drugs. The government are oblivious to the reality of the harm caused by their failed and heartless policies. These deaths are avoidable. Because drugs are criminalised, they are produced on the black market. People in the UK have died from heroin contaminated with anthrax. People in the UK have died as a result of their ecstasy and MDMA containing toxic PMA. Under prohibition, there is simply no possibility to ensure the content of drugs.
And recently, fentanil and carfentanil have contaminated heroin, resulting in increasing numbers of overdose mortalities. This all while governments fail to act as they would if this affected any other population. As a result of their disregard, these tragic, unnecessary, entirely avoidable deaths are increasing across Europe, and overdose mortality is at a ten year high in the UK. The governments policies of austerity have seen our services and healthcare decimated, and the promotion of a narrative of abstinence and ‘recovery’. This has been at the expense of evidence- and rights-based harm reduction and service provision.
• Our communities demand an end to austerity, an end to the war on drugs and people who use drugs.
• We demand to be decriminalised.
• We demand for our drugs to be legalised so that we do not risk our health and lives every time we use drugs.
• We demand access to comprehensive harm reduction and means with which to test the contents of our drugs, as well as widespread access to life-saving overdose reversing naloxone.
• We demand an end to social exclusion, and a recognition of our human rights. We do not forfeit our human rights because we use drugs.
• We are the people who use drugs, and we demand to be recognised.
Tributes Paid Around the World
In London, England
From London: Thanks to Lambeth Service User Council and Release who organised the event with support from Lorraine Hewitt House and South London and Maudley NHS.
We huddled against a backdrop of Parliament house, with tourists, Brexit campaigners and the police in the backgrond and spoke about love, loss and remembrance. It is always a very emotional day on the 21st July for many of us, and with the UK having the highest overdose rates in the EU at the moment iy seemed pertinent to have Parliament in the background. There is always a fine line on these days in sharing an intensely personal moment with ones peers, to feeling rising anger and pain at the system of prohibition that keeps pushing the numbers of unnecessary deaths ever higher. Although in countries we are seeing positive changes, in the UK things are going ever backwards. Gary Sutton from release spoke of the numbers of people continuing to be arrested and imprisoned for small time drug offenses, the court system that keeps them there and the insanity of the whole process. Sir John Strang came along and spoke of overdose rates and the need for further awareness and prevention and the years spent working in the field of drug treatment. And I spoke about loss and the pain of losing a loved one unexpectedly and the added humiliation when it comes to attitudes from police who chalk it up to ‘Just another overdose’ without investigating anything and then family members who can refuse to acknowledge the person who died just because they used drugs. And with 21st July being the day Parliament closes for the Summer, it seemed like days like this will never end. But the warmth and solidarity from our community and friends and supporters, it was a beautifully intimate day, with kind, honest words, tears and big hearts all round, even with the policemen who came to politely watch. Thanks London xxx
In Stockholm, Sweden