Your creative Short Films could CHANGE PERSPECTIVES and save many lives of people who use drugs
Asia is the home to the greatest number of people who use drug with countries that have the world’s harshest drug law and policies. According to the UNODC 2011 report, between 12 and 21 million people use opiates across Asia, representing half of the total global population of opiate users. An estimated four million people inject drugs, the highest concentration in any region. A disproportionate number of new HIV infections in Asia are found among the population of people who inject drugs. Despite the substantial progress in HIV response, UNAIDS suggests that there was no decline in the annual number of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs between 2010 and 2014.
Asia has been experiencing a major regress with regards to the human rights of people who use and inject drugs since the declaration of war on people who use drugs in the Philippines in June 2016. The wounds of the Thai drug war in 2003 are still open and we have been forced to face another brutal war that has resulted in the killings of over 20,000 people – many of them children – suspected of using or selling drugs. War on people who use drugs has been the primary response to the problem of drugs among the Asian governments not only because the government follows conservative ideologies, but also because it is politically sound to win the votes during election. Though not at the same scale and nature like that in the Philippines, similar practices have permeated other South and Southeast Asian countries. Some instances are:
- Indonesian human rights monitor Kontras estimates police and the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) fatally shot 106 drugs suspects between September 2016 and September 2017.
- Cambodian government’s war on drugs launched in January 2017 has resulted in more than 13,ooo arrests of people suspected for drug use or trafficking. They have continued the arrests in 2018 as well.
- Bangladesh launched war on drugs and in a week of May 2018 alone, over 100 people suspected to using or selling drugs have been killed. Rapid Action Battalion’s (RAB) mobile court also sentenced 2,471 people, of whom 347 were drug dealers and the rest drug users.
- Myanmar practices mandatory registration of people who use drugs although mandatory detention centres run by the government have been closed. Mandatory detention is still practised in areas under the control of ethnic armies. A recent report noted that prisons are overcrowded with drug users sentenced to excessively long prison terms.
- Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, China and other Southeast Asian continue to practice arrest and compulsory detention leading to ill treatment of people who use drugs. Investigations by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported these detentions to be like the factories of human rights violations. Some online news sources have also reported extrajudicial killings of people suspected for drug use or trafficking in most of these countries.
- After nearly half century of moratorium on executions, Sri Lanka has decided to begin hanging people for drug-related offences by citing Philippines war on drugs as a success to be replicated.
In the realm of HIV, it has been long established that criminalization and punitive approaches prevent people who use drugs from accessing life-saving care and support services, forcing them to isolate themselves from their personal career, family and society. Scientific evidences that counteract such inhumane system are easily ignored. People who use drugs have been forced to suffer through at least three major crises – infection of blood and airborne diseases, overdose due to massive drug contamination and the so-called “war on drugs”.
ANPUD believes that there is no way forward in the HIV and harm reduction movement without speaking up about the root of the problems – drug laws and policies that are unscientific, unjust and that contradict with human rights principles. As part of many strategies to address the dire situation inflicted upon the lives of people who use drugs, ANPUD launched the short films competition to reach out and collaborate with innovative filmmakers to humanize and advocate for the issues of people who use drugs in the Asian region.
We understand that some interested filmmakers might not be familiar to the concepts like war on drugs, human rights violations, harm reduction and people who use drugs. Therefore, it is important that all the interested filmmakers do some research on the three themes of the competition. There are loads of online news and publications available in the internet. As filmmakers, we all believe that the best film is the one that is honest and brings positive changes to the lives of those who are most affected – in our case “People who Use Drugs”.
To all the filmmakers out there – “Your creative Short Films about the situation of people who use drugs could CHANGE PERSPECTIVES and save many lives.”
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