The names and incidents of the many casualties of the War on Drugs will never really be known. International Remembrance Day, held on July 21st every year, is  a day dedicated to those people, known and unknown,  who have died in the war against drugs and drug users. It is a time when the drug using community can remember and pay tribute to our friends and loved ones; for the funerals we couldn’t attend, for the deaths that no one acknowledged, for the moment we never got to say goodbye. It is to remember those we know, and those we don’t – from our villages, towns and  cities, in the UK and across the world. The vast majority of these deaths are not just deaths from drugs, but from the laws of prohibition and the pervasive ignorance and stigma that blindly follows.  Those who have died from unregulated, adulterated drugs as a result of today’s black market. Those who have been criminalised or incarcerated because of their addiction only to overdose upon release; Those who have died from drug related infections through poverty or discrimination in our hospitals; To those who die in prisons from disease, violence and the many state sanction executions (such as Singapore, Burma and China), or from vigilante death squads like in Thailand and Brazil; Those who have died from the viruses transmitted due to a Drug War mentality which actively discourages and even criminalises needle exchange and drug treatment programs such as in the USA and Russia. To those who defy the laws to obtain their medicine or drug of choice, who get caught in the crossfire of heavily armed drug raids or gang wars due to the profit motive of  illegal drugs, To those who give up hope or who gave up the struggle, to those who couldn’t fight anymore. To those who died in poverty, and alone. July 21st is the day when all across the world,

We will carry our torch of dignity and hope and remember our friends.

This day is for us and our friends,  the people who use/used drugs and it must always be led by us.

IRD gives our community the opportunity to campaign on a range of issues on this day or over the week.  Related issues such as incarceration rates,  treatment of prisoners and getting harm reduction into prisons, death penalty for drugs, overdose awareness and prevention, naloxone, police brutality and deaths in custody, criminalisation, access to OST nnd any other issue where the current war on drug users has caused deaths and destruction.

There is another campaign day, called International Overdose Awareness Day, 31st Aug, every year, that raises another opportunity to network, campaign and organise. Focused on overdose awareness and overdose prevention,  it provides additional opportunities to lobby and campaign. Find out more on the events page.

Always look to what you can do to support your local drug user union or organisation in raising awareness, lobbying and campaigning on this important, peer led, day.

Always check what EuroNPUD, INPUD and the other regional user networks to see what they might be doing in your locale or continent.  Many will have posters and web banners and tshirts you can copy to use.