HCLU in action: Stop the Global War on Drugs!

March 13, 2009

A demonstration and press conference in Vienna, March 11, 2009

On Wednesday morning we organized a demonstration at the entrance of the Vienna International Centre, the building where the UN high level meeting on drugs was held. Government delegates gathered here from March 11 to 12 to discuss the effectiveness of current drug control policies and to adopt a new Political Declaration on drugs. Despite the tremendous evidence on the failure and uninintended consequences of the global drug war, it was an open secret even before the meeting that governments will not break with the old "tough on drugs" approach. The draft text of the declaration did not even mention harm reduction, the most effective tool to reduce drug related deaths and disease! As we expected, the governments made a wrong decision and signed a declaration that in many ways simply repeated the irrealistic and harmful slogans of the 1998 document (read more about what happened at the official meeting here). 

However, we, drug reform activists did not miss this opportunity to remind decision makers and the general public that the global drug control regime does not work and we need a new drug policy based on human rights and harm reduction.

We think it was a great success: all delegates and journalists who came to the meeting had to watch our banners: "Stop the Global War on Drugs", "Harm Reducton Saves Lives" and "Prohibition Does Not Work". We exhibited the best posters of our Unintended Consequences contest, the police to let the banners and posters stay for 2 days, so everybody who entered the building could see our message. We thank for all the enthusiastic activists who contributed to this event, especially those from INPUD, ENCOD and Youth Rise, who had their own banners and standed in the cages prepared by us to symbolize the isolation and exclusion of people who use illicit drugs!

At 9 AM we organized an open air press conference, the speakers (Balázs Dénes from HCLU, Matthew Southwell from INPUD, Frederik Polak from ENCOD and Kris Krane from the Students for Sensible Drug Policy) pointed out that there is a huge gap between reality and UN targets in the field of drug policy. All speakers gave interviews from inside the cages. HCLU - by favour of an OSI grant - provided scholarships for European journalists to attend and report the UN high level meeting - they were very active at press conferences and helped us to make the UN more transparent and accountable (read one of the early reports by Toby Green posted on The Independent World).

We installed some containers with symbolic urine samples on podiums to show delegates the absurdity of the war on drugs. We also distributed fake banknotes (US dollars) with the picture of Mr. Costa and a message in the name of In Memoriam Al Capone Trust, the international network of criminals, who congratulated the governments to keep drugs illegal, thus creating a huge tax-free income for them. 

Watch the photo report from the demo (our videos are coming soon!):

Balázs Dénes, the head of HCLU and Freredik Polak from ENCOD are speaking at the press conference - from cages

In many countries drug offenders still can face the gallow: we must abolish death penalty!

Government delegates could not sneak in the building without being offered with our flyers

Tamas Varga, an HCLU activist dressed like a mafioso is distributing fake-banknotes with Costa's head

"United Nations of Prohibition"

"In Memoriam Al Capone Trust"

Governments need our urine? - here they got it...

INPUD activist calling for drug war peace - he is not collateral damage but a human being

This girl is not dancing in the cage - but protesting against prohibition

Peace demonstrators

Forced eradication of drug crops destroys livelihoods

Youth can't wait ten more years...

Young people demand harm reduction - now!

Please stop here and rethink drug policies

INPUD activists - drug users made their voice heard by government delegates

Before the press conference started

Interview from the cage


Press conference in cages - Kris Krane from SSDP on the left

Balázs Dénes addresses the journalists

Frederik Polak speaks to journalists

Matthew Southwell speaks at the press conference

I am not a criminal: do you think I am really that dangerous?

Dimitri Mugianis from INPUD

What makes them different? Only the law...

Even the children from kindergarden know: drug users are not criminals