Newsbrief: Demonstrations Mark Thailand Drug War Killings 6/13/03

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Demonstrators protesting the murders of more than 2,000 Thais as part of the Thai government's war on drugs that began February 1, gathered in New York, Washington, DC, and other cities worldwide Thursday to demand an end to the slaughter. The day of action, called by a coalition of organizations including Lifeline, The (Methadone) Alliance, the UK Harm Reduction Alliance, Transform Drug Policy Institute, the International Harm Reduction Association and the Thai Network of Drug Users, was designed to repudiate the Thai government's campaign and show support for an effective, nonviolent response to Thailand's drug problems and AIDS epidemic.

  Drug Policy Alliance's Bill McColl
prepares to deliver petitions to the
embassy, with representatives of
Student Global AIDS Campaign
In New York City, protestors stood in solidarity with Thai activists at Thailand's mission to the United Nations, as the Thai Drug Users' Network presented a letter to be delivered to the prime minister calling for an end to repression and the adoption of more humane policies. "The Network has been paying close attention to the implementation of government policies to solve Thailand's drug problems, especially since the announcement and execution of the 'War on Drugs,'" the letter noted. "We would like to compliment the government on its seriousness and dedication to raising the issue of drugs as a matter of national priority. However, we are of the opinion that the government still lacks an adequate understanding of the problem and, in trying to address the problem, neglects to include drug users in the process, despite the fact that drug users possess valuable expertise and are directly affected by policies intended to solve the problems related to drugs in Thailand. Your information deficit and exclusion of drug user participation in policy development preclude the possibility of your policy's success, and has had negative consequences for an enormous number of innocent people, including drug users."

Instead of repression and social exclusion, the Network said, the government must:

"Eliminate the policies that promote violence in addressing the drug problem. Investigate each case of murder or other gross negative consequence following the government's announcement of its war on drugs.

"Promote educational campaigns about drugs and drug use that provide comprehensive and factual information. This will result in a well-informed public and not cause drug users to be reviled and discriminated against by society.

"Rescind any law or policy that violates or leads to the violation of drug users' human rights, such as mandatory HIV-antibody testing, exclusion from anti-retroviral therapy access for HIV-positive drug users, etc.

"Urgently implement programs that aim to reduce the dangers associated with drug use, and provide information to prevent the spread of HIV among drug users. Establish programs to make clean needles and syringes available, which will reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis among injectors.

"Cover costs related to prevention, care and treatment for drug users, including rehabilitation, detoxification, and substitution therapy, under the national health care plan.

"Involve both active and former drug users at all levels to address drug-related problems in Thailand, including policy development."

No sign yet the prime minister is listening.

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Issue #291, 6/13/03 Editorial: The Rule of Law | Global Social Forum Meeting in Cartagena to Draw Broad Spectrum of Global Activists for Colombia Focus -- DRCNet Will Be There | Anatomy of a Victory: How Reformers Rolled Back Souder and the Drug Czar | Ontario Marijuana Laws in the Twilight Zone | Jacksonville Hemp Fest Marred by Police Violence, Warrant Issued for Organizer for Obstructing (In)Justice | Drug Reform and the Democratic Presidential Nominating Process | Sad Day in the Medical Marijuana Movement: Medical Marijuana Patient and Activist Cheryl Miller Passes Away at 57 | DRCNet Urgently Needs Your Donations -- Sullum Book Offer Still Going | This Week in History | Newsbrief: European Union Presidency Calls for Frank Discussion of Drug Laws | Newsbrief: Demonstrations Mark Thailand Drug War Killings | Newsbrief: Oregon Medical Marijuana Provider Gets Prison Time | Newsbrief: Drug Czar Declares War on Summer | Newsbrief: Supreme Courts Again Says No to Cincinnati Drug Zone Ban Law | The Reformer's Calendar
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