THAILAND'S WAR ON DRUG
THE ESTIMATE OF THE NUMBER OF EXECUTIONS
NOW PLACED AT BETWEEN 3,000 AND 5,000
Thailand to renew anti-drug war despite U.S. criticism
by Viparat Jantraprap
BANGKOK, Feb 28, 2004 (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, stung by recent U.S. criticism of his bloody domestic war on drugs last year, announced on Saturday a fresh crackdown on drug dealers starting next month.
"I will renew my anti-drug campaign this school holiday since it is coming back," Thaksin said in his weekly radio address. Thaksin gave few details on the renewed campaign, but he said it would get under way with the start of school holidays in March.
The effort would focus on Bangkok and other major cities where critics say last year's campaign did not make a significant dent in demand, particularly among young Thais. In December last year, Thaksin declared victory after a 10-month, anti-drug war, but the deaths of more than 2,000 suspected traffickers and peddlers caused an outcry from rights activists who accused the police of acting outside the law.
In its annual human rights report issued on Thursday, the U.S. State Department said Thailand's record "worsened with regard to extrajudicial killings" and arbitrary arrests. "The Government failed to investigate and prosecute vigorously those who commited such abuses, contributing to a climate of impunity," it said. Thaksin did not comment on the report in his radio address, but he was visibly annoyed when questioned by reporters on Friday. "It's unacceptable to me the way the U.S. came out with the report by citing media reports. What kind of friend are they?" Thaksin was quoted as saying by the Nation newspaper on Saturday. "I have to say bluntly that it really annoyed me," he added. Thaksin's government has been one of Washington's staunchest allies in Southeast Asia, backing the war on terror in the region and sending non-combat troops to help rebuild Iraq. Thailand's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday the State Department report was based on inaccurate information and it summoned the U.S. ambassador on Friday for a formal protest.
The most popular drug in Thailand is methamphetamines, or "Ya Ba" (crazy drug), which has displaced heroin. Metamphetamines are made for as little as 10 baht (25 cents) a pill in jungle laboratories in neighbouring Myanmar and smuggled across the border along remote mountainous trails. Experts said last year's crackdown had an impact on supply, with the Bangkok price of a pill jumping to 300-400 baht from 60-80 baht a year earlier.
A worrying sign for drug experts is that producers appear to be stockpiling hundreds of millions of pills along the Myanmar-Thailand border - waiting for the pressure to ease. REUTERS
Please follow this link to a letter writing action on Thailand on Amnesty International's website.
More detailed accounts of both concerns at the war on drugs and the use of
the death penalty with further recommendations will be put up there soon
from Amnesty International:
Thailand's anti-drug policy should not be killing people
"We'd make sure the drug traffickers have only two places to stay - jail or the cemetery. They'd have no other places to stay in our society." -- Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, 24 March 2003
Amnesty International is concerned that government measures against drug crime in Thailand have led to serious human rights violations, including alleged extrajudicial killing and use of the death penalty.
Thailand is a major hub for drug trafficking, and has the highest methamphetamine abuse rates in the world. In 2001 authorities declared that they were waging a "war against narcotic drugs."
Last year more than 1,000 people were killed within three months during a government campaign to eradicate drugs, particularly methamphetamines, from the country. There has been no thorough and independent investigation of their deaths and of all allegations of security forces' reported involvement in a number of cases.
Since 2001, hundreds of men and women, including foreign nationals and members of Thailand's ethnic minorities, have been sentenced to death for drug offences, and numbers on death row have tripled.
Join Amnesty International in calling on authorities to institute an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into those killed between February and March 2003, to make the findings public, and to bring to justice any member of the security forces suspected of involvement. Amnesty International also calls on authorities to abolish the death penalty, and pending this to institute an immediate moratorium on executions in the country.
Write to the government of Thailand urging them to institute an independent investigation and to abolish the death penalty. You can base your letter on the following sample:
Dear Prime Minister,
While acknowledging the seriousness of Thailand's drugs problem, and your government's need to combat drug crime, I write to urge that in doing so you do not violate human rights.
Amnesty International is concerned that no independent, thorough and impartial investigation has taken place into the killing of more than 1,000 people in the context of the "war on drugs" in 2003, and into allegations of security forces' involvement in a number of cases. I urge that your government ensure that such an investigation is opened, that the method and findings are made public; that any government official suspected of involvement in extrajudicial killing is brought to justice, and that relatives of the deceased are provided with reparation, including compensation.
I am also concerned by reports that hundreds of persons convicted of drug offences have been sentenced to death, and urge that you abolish the death penalty in law. Pending its abolition, I urge that you impose an immediate moratorium on executions. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It is, moreover, an irreversible punishment that carries the grave risk of judicial error.
Please send appeals to:
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Office of the Prime Minister
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit
Fax: + 66 2 280 1443
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org *
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Please send copies to the National Human Rights Commission
Professor Saneh Chamrik, Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
PO Box 400, Rongmuang Post Office
E-mail: email@example.com *
* If you write by e-mail, please send us a copy of your letter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[On December 3, 2003, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, announced a "victory" in his war on drugs, launched in February of this year. Characterized by blatant violations of human rights including blacklisting, false allegations or arrest, and the extrajudicial executions of thousands of people, the campaign instilled fear and terror across the nation through the condoning of violence to reach its goals, simultaneously undermining efforts made in the public health, social service, and other sectors to reach and serve people who use drugs. The following action organized by the Thai Drug Users' Network is virtually the only public stand against this violent stop-gap approach to Thailand's drug situation, and in defense of the human rights of some of Thai society's most socially, politically, and economically marginalized inhabitants.]
THAI DRUG USERS' NETWORK APPEALS TO THE KING TO STOP VIOLENCE ASSOCIATED WITH GOVERNMENT DRUG POLICY, AND VOWS TO QUIT OR REDUCE DRUG USE IN HIS HONOR
On December 4, 2003, at 10:00 a.m., the Thai Drug Users' Network and allies will gather at Thammasat University in Bangkok to perform a ceremony in honor of the his Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej's birthday (5 December). After holding a press conference, participants will march to nearby Wat Prakeow, the former royal palace, where they will present a letter to a representative of his Royal Highness.
Thai Drug Users' Network Statement:
The Thai Drug Users' Network is an organization of 70 drug users and former drug users from around the country, that lobbies and campaigns for the realization of basic human and constitutional rights of people who use drugs. We work with all relevant sectors towards solving drug related problems.
Today, we have resolved to reduce or quit our drug use and to give our loving support to our friends who still struggle with drug use; to express our love and loyalty to our King, his Royal Highness Bhumibol Adulyadej, on his birthday; and to demonstrate our own commitment to solving drug related problems.
Today, members of the Thai Drug Users' Network are distributing literature, carrying banners and wearing t-shirts that implore His Majesty to intervene on our behalf with the Thai government to reverse the present failed campaign of violence and suppression.
The government has shown genuine and praiseworthy commitment in making Thai drug policy a national priority. However, since December 2002, TDN has monitored the government's response to Thai drug problems, led by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as a war of eradication. We have direct experience of the government's extreme policies of suppression and eradication. We also have direct experience of the failure of these policies. Current policies are excessive, reflecting an inadequate understanding, impacting drug users and non-drug users alike without distinction, promoting hostile stereotypes and discrimination.
The Thai Drug User Network advocates for drug policy that responds to the genuine nature of drug related problems, offering solutions that support drug users, their families and communities, demands that the government immediately stop the killing and:
1.. Eliminate the policies that promote violence in addressing the drug
problem. Investigate each case of murder or other gross negative
consequences following the government's announcement of its war on drugs.
2. 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.
3. 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 antiretroviral therapy access for HIV-positive drug users,
4. 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
5. Cover costs related to prevention, care and treatment for drug
users, including rehabilitation, detoxification, and substitution
therapy, under the national health care plan.
6. Involve both active and former drug users at all levels to address
drug-related problems in Thailand, including policy development.
Piyabutr Nacapiew, email@example.com, +66-9-811-6406
Paisan Suwannawong, firstname.lastname@example.org, +66-1-824-5434
Translated by Karyn Kaplan and Donald Grove
UP NYC DEMONSTRATION AT THAILAND'S UN MISSION
THURSDAY, JUNE 12th, 2003 -- INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION IN SOLIDARITY WITH THAI ACTIVISTS
PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF DRUG USERS
THAI GOVERNMENT DRUG POLICE = DROP DEAD
TAKE ACTION ON BEHALF OF THAI DRUG USERS
SUPPORT THE THAI DRUG USERS
STOP THE MURDER OF THAI DRUG USERS ... NOW!!!
THAILAND'S DRUG WAR . . . "A SUCCESS"? "ERADICATION"?? .. MORE LIKE EXECUTIONS AND MURDER!
The Government in Thailand has declared its three-month campaign to stop the sale and use of illegal drugs "a success". The Prime Minister claims that, as a result of the crackdown which he initiated, 90% of the problem has been eradicated and all drugs will be eradicated by the end of the year. People who deal or use drugs will, in the Prime Minister's words, " be put behind bars or may even vanish without a trace - who cares? They are destroying our country."
THE TRUE RESULT OF THAILAND'S "WAR ON DRUGS"
DEPLORABLE HEALTH CONDITIONS / HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
There is international condemnation of this war on drug users, of the deaths and of the removal of liberty of 60,000 largely disenfranchised Thais. This is a gross abuse of human rights
The THAI USERS NETWORK, a group of active and former drug users in Thailand has organized in response to the deplorable health and human rights situation, in particular the current climate of fear caused by the killings
They have called for an INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION on Thursday, June 12, 2003 to bring world-wide pressure on the Thai Government to put an end to this horror and to provide adequate healthcare for people who use drugs.. A list of their demands [pdf] is posted on the web site of the Canadian Harm Reduction Network. This funding appeal, emanating from the UK, asks you to assist the Thai Drug User Network to survive and address this terrible situation. Support the Thai Drug Users Network (PDF)
UP Demonstration, New York City
A vigil and presentation of a letter to the Thai ambassador at Thailand's UN mission
Thailand's permanent mission to the UN, 351 E. 52nd Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues
Thursday, June 12, from 1pm until 2 pm
Earlier this year, the Thai government began a violent campaign against drug users in Thailand. The campaign has involved black-listing, forced rehabilitation, and, their most aggregious human rights violation of the campaign -- the state-sanctioned execution of drug users. The Thai Drug Users' Network, a group of present and former drug users from around the country, called for an international day of action against the Thai drug war where allies around the world could show support for human rights and an effective and non-violent response to Thailand's drug problems and AIDS epidemic. On Thursday, the Thai Drug Users' Network will present a letter to Thailand's prime minister calling for an end to policies that promote violence, for educational prevention campaigns, for strong protection of drug users' human rights, and for harm reduction programs such as needle exchange. On Thursday, we will support the Thai Drug Users' Network by standing with them at the Thai mission here in New York.
FOR MORE INFO: contact Carolyn Dieckmann, email@example.com or at 617-504-5524
ALERT: Your calls, faxes, and protests needed (update: Embassy
calling information included below)
International day of action Thursday June 12 demanding justice in response to Thailand's deadly and discriminatory Drug War
Read this note to find out what you can do to support drug users and former drug users, AIDS activists, and human rights activists in Thailand who are fighting the government's deadly drug policies.
Early in 2003, the Thai government began a brutal "War on Drugs." Under the banner of this drug war, more than 3,000 Thais have been assassinated by the Government. Many drug users have been black-listed and denied access to essential prevention and treatment services. Effective HIV and hepatitis prevention efforts for drug users and their communities are impossible in an environment of state terror.
Protests on June 12 in solidarity with Thai activists demanding change from their government will take place in the U.S. and around the world.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
In New York City: On June 12, from 1-2:00 PM join ACT UP New York, ACT UP Philadelphia, and Health GAP in an lunchtime protest and vigil at the Royal Thai Government's Permanent Mission to the UN, 351 E. 52nd Street, between 1st and 2nd avenues in Manhattan.
For more information contact (in New York City):
Carolyn Dieckmann, (617) 504-5524 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Sharonann Lynch (212) 674-9598
Free transportation to the protest from Philadelphia: call Asia Russell at (267) 475-2645 or email@example.com
In Washington D.C.:
Protesting at the Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C. on June 12.
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/291.shtml - look at item 11 (includes a pic of us delivering the letters to the embassy)
YOUR CALLS AND FAXES ARE NEEDED:
This week, pick up your phone and call the Thai Embassy (contact information below) to support for the Thai activists' campaign to win non-violent, effective drug policies that protect the human rights of drug users, promote public health, and prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis.
NOTE: For people in the U.S., calls and faxes are especially important, as the Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, meets with
President Bush today in Washington D.C. (See below for a calling script.)
Royal Thai Embassy: http://www.thaiembdc.org/index.htm
1024 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 401
Washington, D.C. 20007
tel: (202) 944-3600
fax: (202) 944-3611
H.E. Ambassador Mr. Sakthip Krairiksh
Calling the embassy:
When you call the embassy, say that you need to speak with someone to leave
a message for Ambassador Krairiksh about the drug war, human rights and
the AIDS epidemic in Thailand.
Make sure you speak with an official in the Ambassador's office who can take
your name and contact information. Be polite, firm, and brief. Here is a
"My name is __________ and I am calling from __________. I am calling in
solidarity with the Thai Drug User's Network, who are demanding the Prime
Minister change Thai policy on drugs.
We strongly support their demands for investigation into the government
killings, and for non-violent and humane government drug policy that puts
the human rights of drug users and the right to health first. We also
support the protests at the Thai Mission in New York City on June 12. Please
communicate this urgent message to the Ambassador as soon as possible."
of letter to the Thai ambassador staff at NYC's Thailand UN Mission
Here is a list of the demands the Thai Drug Users' Network are making of
their government (see letter below for the activists' complete demands):
* an end to anti-drug policies that promote violence
* full investigation of all murders and other acts of government
violence related to the drug war
* strong protection of drug users' human rights
* harm reduction services, like needle exchange
* the involvement of drug users and former drug users at all levels of
creating a new national policy on drugs, and
* coverage of treatment, care and prevention services for drug users
under the national health care plan.
Let us know how your calls are going: contact Asia Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (267) 475 2645.
IN ADDITION: If there is a Thai consulate in your neighborhood, work with ACT UP to
request meetings with officials there, or to plan a solidarity protest or
vigil. Please contact ACT UP for assistance. For a list of the many Thai
consulates throughout the U.S., go to:
http://www.thaiembdc.org/index.htm and scroll down.
As you may know, on June 12th the Thai Drug Users' Network (TDN) is holding a day of international solidarity against the drug war in Thailand. Allies in countries from Nepal to Australia will hold demonstrations at their Thai consulate or elsewhere to protest the violent crackdown on individuals allegedly involved in drugs, a 3-month state-sanctioned campaign characterized by black-listing, forced rehabilitation, extrajudicial killing and other rights violations. The Thai Drug Users' Network abhors the government's approach to Thailand's drug situation, and proposes a solution that requires the active participation of drug users in the design and development of appropriate policies and programs to reduce the harms associated with drug use and the drug war, while immediately repealing policies that promote human rights violations.
At 10:00 a.m. on June 12, 2003, the Thai Drug Users' Network and allied organizations and individuals will present a letter (below) to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and hold a symbolic funeral outside the Government House in Bangkok, in honor of those who have been killed because of the administration's strong-arm approach to rid the country of drugs (and drug users). We will then proceed to the Parliament, where we will deliver a letter to the Chair of the Senate. We will hold a press conference at the Parliament, where we expect a number of Senators to join us.
We thank everyone who can join us around the world in making known the human rights abuses drug users suffer in Thailand, particularly during the 3-month murderous free-for-all against drug users that occurred between February 1 - April 31, 2003), and that, in developing alternative solutions to addressing drugs in Thai society, a supportive environment must be created for the active involvement of drug users.
Nearly 50% of all Thai drug injectors are HIV-positive, and are excluded by policy from antiretroviral access. If the government policy hasn't killed us all, AIDS will, unless we fight together to promote the right to life, to health, and the equal enjoyment of all other rights for drug users.
In July 2004, Thailand will host the International AIDS Conference. If we do not see an immediate and significant change in Thailand's policies and practises toward drug users and other marginalized groups, we would like to initiate discussion with our international friends and colleagues on how to prioritize addressing this crisis, vis-a-vis the upcoming conference.
Yours in solidarity,
P.S. We are more than happy to help anyone
interested in putting together an
action against the Thai drug war; please contact Karyn Kaplan (TTAG/TDN),
email@example.com, for any information or other support that you may need.
This letter to be delivered to the Thai Prime Minister by the Thai Drug Users' Network on June 12, 2003
translated from the Thai original -- Thai version available
June 12, 2003
His Excellency the Prime Minister:
The Thai Drug Users' Network, a group of
over 70 drug users and former
drug users from around the country, has formed to advocate for drug users'
rights and to collaborate with other relevant organizations and agencies to
help solve Thailand's drug-related problems.
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." 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.
Even before the government's announcement
of its war against drugs,
users faced discrimination, social exclusion, and barriers to accessing
appropriate and effective services. This is primarily owing to the fact that
the government's campaign does not promote a greater awareness of issues
related to drugs and drug use, but rather perpetuates a negative stereotype
and public perception of users.
Furthermore, in the decade or two of Thailand's
HIV/AIDS epidemic, tens
of thousands of drug users died of AIDS because of insurmountable obstacles
to accessing appropriate and relevant HIV prevention and care information
and services. The situation has not improved at all over the years and is,
in fact, worsening. Currently, approximately half of all injecting drug
users in Thailand are HIV-infected, and there is no effective approach to
reducing HIV among injectors.
After the government declared a war on drugs,
the situation for users
has deteriorated. Drug users do not dare to come out for services, and even
organizations working with drug users are experiencing an even greater
difficulty than before accessing this population.
Therefore, we demand the government immediately
take the following
1.. 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.
2.. 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
3.. 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 antiretroviral therapy access for HIV-positive drug users, etc.
4.. 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.
5.. Cover costs related to prevention, care
and treatment for drug users,
including rehabilitation, detoxification, and substitution therapy, under
the national health care plan.
6.. Involve both active and former drug
users at all levels to address
drug-related problems in Thailand, including policy development.
Paisan Tan-Ud, Thai Drug Users' Network
Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+)
Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS (TNCA)
Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG)
JUNE 12, 2003
Contact: Paisan Tan-Ud, 01-824-5434
THAI DRUG USERS' NETWORK DEMANDS AN END TO VIOLENT DRUG SUPPRESSION POLICIES AND IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION OF HARM REDUCTION PROGRAMS FOR DRUG USERS
(Bangkok, Thailand) On June 12, 2003, activists demanded the government immediately end its violent drug suppression tactics and begin a dialogue with present and former drug users to address the nation's drug-related problems. The protesters held a mock funeral in front of the Government House, where they delivered a letter of demands to the Prime Minister's Office before proceeding to the Parliament where another letter was given to the Parliament Chair. Inside, Senators met with activists and held a press conference.
Paisan Tan-Ud, a member of the Network, said, "Until now, the government's approach to drugs and drug users has run counter to the basic principles of human rights. No one deserves to be murdered, especially by the government. No one should be punished for a crime they haven't committed. Thaksin's policy has proved to be a death sentence to drug users."
The demonstration, organized by the Thai Drug Users' Network to bring attention to the deadly consequences of government policies on drugs and drug users, brought together over fifty individuals from the AIDS and human rights communities to respond to the deadly consequences of the Prime Minister's recent "War on Drugs" and current campaign against "Dark Influences."
"We know from global experience that the best way to help drug users access treatment is through the provision of a wide range of supportive services, and certainly never through forced treatment, which has largely been Thailand's experience," said Wassawut Yimchaem of Alden House and a Network member. "Approximately half of all injecting drug users have HIV, and half have TB. The public health approach must be integrated with the demand reduction approach, or drug users have no chance of surviving."
Activists demanded immediate changes in policies negatively affecting drug users, such as the current practice of excluding injecting drug users from accessing antiretroviral therapy, or not covering drug treatment and methadone under the 30-baht health care plan.
"Not only are we presenting the government with alternative solutions to addressing drugs in Thailand, but we are asking the government to let us help them develop healthy, rights-respecting policies and programs that will actually meet the needs of drug users and help them reach their goals, whether it's getting off drugs or avoiding HIV-infection," said Kamon Uppakaew, Chairman of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+).
ACT UP Press Release
June 12, 2003
Contact: KATE KRAUSS 215-545-3104
ON SITE CELL 617-504-5524 (for ACT UP NY)
In Thailand: Karyn Kaplan (TTAG/TDN), +66-01-866-1238
THE THAI GOVERNMENT IS MURDERING DRUG USERS IN COLD BLOOD: 2,275 DEAD
ACT UP SOLIDARITY ACTION: JUNE 12 ·
THAI MISSION· 351 E. 52nd St between 1st and 2nd Aves. NYC
(New York) ACT UP MEMBERS WILL PROTEST the Thai government's violent campaign against drug users on Thursday at 1 pm at the Thai Mission in New York. Activists, including representatives from Human Rights in China, George Soros's Open Society Institute, and several Asian GLBT groups will chant and carry banners and colorful signs in Thai and English that say: STOP MURDERING PEOPLE WITH AIDS. They will conduct a "die-in", in which many members of the group lie down and chalk outlines are drawn around their bodies. They will also leave behind lilies. In the tradition of their Thai allies, ACT UP will deliver a formal letter of protest to the Thai Permanent Mission to the United States. Says ACT UP Philadelphia member Allison Dinsmore, "What can you say about a government that is murdering its own people? A lot of people with AIDS in the US are recovering drug users, including many members of ACT UP Philadelphia." Added Dinsmore, "ACT UP supports needle exchange and drug treatment on demand, not murder." The protest will include recovering drug users who are now AIDS activists. Activists from the Student Global AIDS Campaign will conduct a simultaneous action at the Thai embassy in Washington, DC. There will also be protests in Australia, Nepal, the UK and South Africa.
The campaign has involved black-listing, forced rehabilitation, and, most notoriously, state-sanctioned execution of thousands of drug users. Many of the 2,275 people who were executed were lured out of their homes with a police summons and then shot in their cars as they drove to the police station. About a third of new HIV infections in Thailand are among IV drug users.
The Thai Drug Users' Network, a group of present and former drug users from around the country, has called for an international day of action against the Thai drug war. On June 12, allies around the world will show support for human rights and an effective and non-violent response to Thailand's drug problems and AIDS epidemic. Also on Thursday, the Thai Drug Users' Network will present a letter to Thailand's prime minister calling for an end to policies that promote violence, for educational prevention campaigns, for strong protection of drug users' human rights, and for harm reduction programs such as needle exchange.
Western AIDS groups such as ACT UP are part of an international network of AIDS groups in South Africa, China, Thailand, France and many other nations that is able to activate protests around the world by calling for a Global Day of Action. In this way, countries such as Thailand can face international pressure to halt human rights abuses and provide adequate AIDS care and prevention.
The US has its own difficulties with AIDS
and IV drug use; more than 25% of the 40,000 people who become
infected each year in the US are IV drug users. The Bush administration
bars federally funded needle exchange, despite evidence that it
prevents users from contracting the HIV virus and gives them access
to drug treatment and other services.
SLAUGHTER IN THE NAME OF A DRUG WAR
THAILAND'S DRUG WAR COULD MIRROR IRAN'S
CHIANG MAI, Thailand (Reuters) -- "The Thai government's drugs policy: drop dead."
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE IN THAILAND: SUPPORT
THAI DRUG USERS' NETWORK
THAILAND'S FAILED DRUG CRACKDOWN REVEALS
EXTENT OF OFFICIAL CORRUPTION
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS -- AND LIVES --
OF THAI DRUG USERS
THAILAND ENFORCES A POLICY OF TAKE-NO-PRISONERS
IN ITS WAR ON DRUGS
THAI MILITARY OFFICERS IMPLICATED IN
ASIAN HARM REDUCTION NETWORK .
HARM REDUCTION COALITION
Canadian Harm Reduction Network
The Dogwood Center
THAI SOLIDARITY: Drug user activists tackle the Thai terror
BY MICHAEL ARNOLD
"End the drug war now" say needle nymphs in New York, methed-up militants in Moscow, direct-action druggists in Darwin, cranked-out campaigners in Canberra and global goodie-gobblers.
On June 12, drug user activists, non-user supporters of drug law reform and human rights campaigners came together in cities around the globe to protest the Thai government's drug war.
More than 2000 drug users and "dealers" have been killed in the six-month campaign. Children and family members of targeted users have died or been badly maimed by getting caught in the line of fire.
Police monitoring and early morning raids have touched the lives of around 40,000 Thais. The government is forcing people, without trial, into what it calls "detoxification and rehabilitation". Users are subjected to torturous, generally unmedicated, withdrawals - at one "camp" users were kept chained by their hands and feet 24 hours a day, for a month.
For years, drug users have been fighting for social justice, better health services, law reform and an end to the US-led war on drug users. When users around the world face abuses as severe as the situation in Thailand, we know the chances of similar atrocities being visited on us are higher. We will offer solidarity to our brothers and sisters overseas, knowing it will be returned for our struggles.
The policies in Thailand are unprecedented in their terror - and have been responded to with unprecedented user organisation, coordination and activity.
From Bangkok, Karyn reports that in the days leading up to and following [the] June 12 [actions], press releases, letters to Thai PM Thaksin [Shinawatra], photos, and other updates about international actions in solidarity with Thai Drug Users' Network flowed into its centres. Messages were recieved from Japan to Manipur, Germany to Darwin, New York to Sydney, and London to Cambodia.
TDN says: "Thank you!! We felt you with us. We thought of you often and your spirit fed our spirit."
On the morning of June 12, more than 60 TDN members and allies, primarily members of the Thai Network of People Living With HIV and AIDS and the Thai NGO, Coalition on AIDS, gathered in the Bangkok heat. Starting across from Government House on Pitsanuloke Road, the protesters crossed the road toward the military guards, carrying body bags, funeral accoutrements, banners and signs.
The signs included slogans like "The next corpse could be... your relative" and "Does forced rehabilitation really work, Mr Prime Minister?" Bangkok traffic provided a great audience, and news cameras and reporters trailed the parade.
Ten of the protesters were invited to present the groups' letter, intended for the prime minister, who was out of town. Instead, they met with four individuals from the national task force on drugs, including a representative from the office of narcotics control bureau and someone responsible for public health issues.
After nearly an hour's discussion, the task force representatives agreed to set up a meeting between the activists and the deputy prime minister. From Government House, protesters went to Parliament, where Senator Jon Ungphakorn received the letter.
No Thai press reported the protest, though on June 10 the local English-language Nation , had run a story on it.
In Sydney, the NSW Users & AIDS Association (NUAA) sponsored a briefing prepared and delivered by Stephen Wye, editor of Users News . Wye recently spent just under three months in Chiang Mai, collaborating with Thai drug users and doing volunteer work for the International Harm Reduction conference. The briefing was attended by 25 user-activists, drug law reform campaigners and service providers.
Later that day, drug-user activists, gathered by a front-group under the mysterious heading of FLUID - Front for the Liberation of Users of Illicit Drugs - held a picket outside the Thai consulate-general in Sydney.
The deputy-consul general invited picketers to meet with him in his office, saying that his willingness to listen meant "there is no need for protest." Activists stressed that the Thai government should listen to Thai drug users and involve them in policy making.
From Melbourne, Joe Kim reports that 40 people attended a fundraiser for the Thai Drug Users Network. Organised by the recently formed Victorian Harm Reduction Alliance, the brought together people from all walks of life who use illicit and licit drugs. People nodded, smiled, laughed, drank, smoked, slurred their speech, shook their heads to the music, felt restless, talked incessantly, and more, all within the confines of a safe space.
Pier Moro and Joseph Kim spoke on behalf the alliance and Din of Inequity, Plastic Shake-Up Snow, and the funky female DJ Sneelock performed.
From Darwin, Nicolette reports that the Network Against Prohibition held a public forum on July 11. Gary Meyerhoff gave a short informal presentation to summarize his recent experiences in Thailand developing solidarity with drug user activists there.
The next day, NAP members held an information stall in the busy Smith Street Mall. An official NAP delegation attempted to present a petition to Liberal MP David Tollner calling on the Australian government to help end the Thai drug war.
NAP also held a banner drop on July 13.
From Canberra, Nicky Bath reports that 30 people were joined by two local politicians in a solidarity protest on July 12. Nicole, from Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy, read out the TDN letter.
From London, Sandra reports that around 20 people held a solidarity action. Actions wee also held in Birmingham where a copy of the TDN letter was presented to officials at the Thai embassy.
From Moscow, Vitalik reports that two dozen activists, including members of the Radical Party, maintained a picket, chanting and displaying slogans. Photos can be viewed at <http://www.radikaly.ru/news/?text=2703> .
From New York City, Donald Grove explained that "30 people came to the Thai Mission to the United Nations for an action organized by ACT UP. We displayed signs and chanted: "Clean Needles not bullets! AIDS treatment not bullets!", "War on Drug is a lie! Thai cops kill, users die!" and, in Thai "Mai ka pu sep ya! (Stop murdering drug users)" The demands of TDN were read out to the crowd, and a letter was delivered to the head of the Thai UN delegation.
Left Weekly, July 9, 2003.
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