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International Day against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking – A War Of Errors

By Rajesh Kh, (Human Rights’ Activist of People Who Use Drugs)
In December 1987 the UN general assembly decided to observe June 26 as the International day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, determined to help create an international society free of drug abuse. The resolution recommended further action with regard to the report and conclusion of the 1987 international conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Leading the campaign, The UNODC has a lot to prove their paradigm shift towards a rights based policy of Harm Reduction rather than tough measures. Understanding the fact that the word ‘abuse’ itself is derogatory and a hindrance towards treatment approach as the term implies a stigmatised conceptual and hence the commonly used ‘drug use’.

Laws and practices that are based on criminalisation of drug using populace and the consequences of these measures, the practices 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 the family support and drives people further into problem drug use. Being a part of my family and the larger society and having an old father, mother brothers and sisters to deal with, I very much want peace and mutual understanding within my family. I learned that it is critically possible to listen to my loved and near ones. Before agreeing upon 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 analogue deliberately. The family can be viewed as a microcosm of society. We are all members of one global family. Though we all have unique world values, customs, and ways of life, there is no doubt that we have to deal with the HIV and especially the HCV epidemic especially together. Its time to stop framing my community always as the problem and instead to recognise that we are a key part of the solution process to HIV/HCV.

OH! What a love drug war we have promulgated around the world. Truth: Drug users are flawed human beings just like you, Mr. Social reformers, and making hype around. Drug users are not criminals, and decade and years of criminalising laws based on pathetic myths, big lies and bad science does not alter that truth. It’s the drug warriors who are the murderous criminals’ in this global tragedy. Seventeen years ago, the UN general assembly voted to observe June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This year the annual theme was “Think Health, Not Drugs”. The campaign calls for the adoption of measures that reduce the harmful effects of drug use’ as a crucial part of the battle to combat HIV/AIDS, along with a social and economic development approach in drug-growing regions, and yet only time will tell whether China have shifted their paradigm from their early stances of hard messages as in the past, China was off – message. Chinese authorities marked such observation by trying, sentencing, and executing dozens of people convicted of drug trafficking. Most of the execution took place in south western Chongqing, where the intermediate peoples’ court convicted 16 people in a one day, mass public trial, then immediately killed them. Another mass punishment took place in shanghai, where 78 people convicted of drug crimes were sentenced. These mass killing were just the grand finale of a hectic lead up to the International Day Against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking in Yunnan province the day before, tan minglin and three others convicted of illegally purchasing drugs were executed in Wenzhou city in eastern Zhejiang province. Another 17 suspect were declared guilty in Hangzhou city, “Two of which were HIV/AIDS carriers sentenced to death the same day, “Xinhua reported. China officially admits to having one million registered “drug addicts”, but that figure could be far higher. According to the ministry of public security, Chinese authorities have prosecuted more than half a million drug cases in the last five years alone. They also reported seizing more than 51 tons of heroin and 52 tons of methamphetamine. Courtesy the south Asia intelligence review, – “According to a bizarre report in the Sangai Express in the Indian state of Manipur, an armed Group killed Ningthoujam Raja as a drug dealer and also punished a number of drug users with a bullet each on their legs”. The same armed group had for the past three years undertaken a “renovation” of Manipur society by cleansing it of vices like “immoral behaviour”, drug use and trafficking and corruption. In a press statement, the group added that they timed their operation to coincide with the intl. Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. In a sign of national paranoia, it added that the Manipur people have been on the receiving end of “the Narco-Chemical warfare unleashed by India. There is no indication the UN approves of “revolutionary justice” in India, and it has not spoken to the Chinese executions”. These texts were quoted from a chronicle of ‘www.stop the drug war.org’ found by the writer in an internet research and does not reflect the personal opinion.

The UN’s international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking is in most places an innocuous exercise that may even do some good – if prevention message are presented in a science based, non-propagandistic way. Describing drugs as a “monster” is not an encouraging sign. But when the international day becomes an excuse for mass murder and “revolutionary justice”, may be its time to rethink this annual exercise. How many innocent lives have been taken in china, where there is no realistic system of due process and the death penalty is imposed thousands of times per year? In China, according to amnesty international, there is no presumption of innocence, the right to defence counsel is severely limited and a trial outcome is often predetermined.

More than anything else, it is the attitude and policies of the United States that most influence drug polices in the world. Drug prohibition is as American as coca cola and the country spares no expenses both in pursuing the ‘war on drugs’ and ensuing that other countries follow tow its line.

John McCain, a republican candidate, is the oldest presidential candidate in US history, unfortunately advocates tighter enforcement and stricter penalties for selling drugs deemed illegal. McCain, also favour that great American solution to most problems; throwing money at it. At a republican debate at Dartmouth College in 1999 he said, “We’re losing the war on drugs. We ought to say, ‘it’s not a war anymore’, or we really ought to go after it. And there was a time in our history when we weren’t always losing the war on drugs. It was when Reagan had a very simple program called, ‘just say NO’.

Obama, still in his 40s, is one of the youngest ever president and represents a complete generational change in his attitude to drugs. For a start he is the first presidential candidate to be honest about his own drug use. However, it would be fanciful to expect the quite demise of drug prohibition – new president always moderated their views in the face of political reality. But as the saying goes, when America sneezes, the world catches a cold.
(The writer does not condone nor promotes the use of drugs but rather accepts the principles based on pragmatic facts and not on utopian ideals.)


  1. The War on Drugs failed $1 Trillion ago!  This money could have been used for outreach
    programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing,
    free rehab, and clean needles.  Harmless
    drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy.  Cannabis can provide hemp for countless
    natural recourses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state
    in our country out of the red!  Vote
    Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it.  Voice
    you opinion with the movement and read more on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html  

  2. On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that “if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us.” After forty years of trying to destroy “the drug menace in America” we still *haven’t* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn’t* destroyed us. Four decades is long enough to realize that on this important issue President Nixon wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

    It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn’t* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* make criminals incredibly wealthy and incite the Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people every year.

    We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

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    An important aspect of Individual freedom is the right to self-medicate, or to do with yourself as you please as long as your actions cause no unnecessary suffering or direct harm to others. Some among us may disagree with this, and they should be free to believe what they wish. But the moment they are willing to use force (paid for with our own hard-earned taxes) to impose their will on the rest of us, is the exact same moment that the petty criminals/dealers, the Mafia, drug barons, terrorists and corrupt government officials/agencies enter the equation. The problems created by any possible self-harm then rapidly pale into insignificance as society spirals downwards into a dark abyss, while the most shady characters and black-market corporate entities exponentially enrich themselves in a feeding frenzy likened to that of piranhas on ‘prohibition engendered’ bath-tub meth.

    Every-time the ghastly consequences of prohibition are falsely blamed on the users, it diminishes the culpability of those who are truly responsible for maintaining the status quo. Prohibition is an absolute scourge -the end!  The use of drugs is NOT the real problem, the system that grants exclusive distribution rights to violent cartels and terrorists IS.

    When governments prohibit drugs they effectively and knowingly hand a monopoly on their sale to dangerous criminals and terrorists. Without a legal framework in which to operate, these black-market entities can always be expected to settle their disputes violently, while terrorizing many peaceful and innocent citizens in the process. Were the users of alcohol to blame for the St Valentines massacre in 1929? Of course not! It is just as naive to assume that one can compel all the users of Marijuana or Cocaine to  simply quit, as it is to assume that all the users of Alcohol should have stopped drinking after the introduction of alcohol prohibition in 1919. 

    Nobody can be expected to obey bad laws, like ones that infringe on logic as well as the fundamental right to decide on what medicine or poison an individual adult may, or may not, ingest. The corruption, violence and death ultimately arising from such bad public policy should always rest squarely on the shoulders of those ignorant imbeciles who are responsible for implementing and supporting such foolishness.

    Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

    “The greater the number of laws, the more corrupt the republic.” Tacitus


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