In the final episode of our documentary series on the history of the rights movement of people who use drugs, we introduce activists from the UK and from the International Network of People Who Use Drugs.
The drug user rights movement in the United Kingdom, as in many other countries, started as a peer-led response to the HIV crisis. Mainliners was the first self-support group of people who use drugs living with HIV. After the passing of John Mordaunt (one of the founders of Mainliners) his widow, Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt set up the John Mordaunt Trust, to honour his life partner’s memory, to provide harm reduction and education for people who use drugs, and to advocate against their criminalisation and stigmatisation.
Mat Southwell worked at the Health Service as a harm reduction worker, and was taught community organising by gay men’s organisations. He helped set up drug user groups which were providing secondary needle exchange. He was part of the Crack Squad, which worked together with the Royal College of General Practice to help doctors approach crack use from a harm reduction perspective. With the MixMag dance drugs magazine, Mat and his peers introduced party harm reduction education. Mat also took part in the founding of EURONPUD, the European Network of People who Use Drugs, and now works at West Country Respect.
The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) is a global peer-based organisation that seeks to promote the health and defend the rights of people who use drugs. INPUD was founded in 2006, when international activists who use drugs created the Vancouver Declaration. Judy Chang, the executive director of INPUD tells us the story of INPUD, and how this umbrella organisation of all the user networks worldwide works on the international level, to advocate for the rights of people who use drugs. They work at the UN level to bring the voices of people who use drugs into global decision-making spaces, such as the UNAIDS, WHO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. They advocate for decriminalisation and legalisation of drugs, for harm reduction, hepatitis and tuberculosis treatment, and overdose prevention, and fight against the death penalty, extrajudicial killings, and other violations of the human rights of people who use drugs.
With this documentary series, INPUD and Drugreporter aimed to honour all those brave activists around the world who dedicated their lives to the rights movement of people who use drugs, and contributed to make this world a better place, to reduce hurt and suffering, and to bring joy to our lives.
Starting on Monday, 6th of July 2020, we publish one episode per week for 10 weeks. The episodes follow the timeline of the development of the movement of people who use drugs from Amsterdam to Afghanistan and globally.
The production of the series has been a great adventure. We conducted 34 video interviews in 20 countries around the world. 8 interviews were filmed by the Rights Reporter Foundation, the rest by members of our Drugreporter Video Advocacy Network, video activists, and freelance videographers worldwide.
The documentary series is part of the online conference “HIV 2020: Community Reclaiming the Global Response” which runs from July through October of 2020.
An alliance of global key population-led networks, networks of people living with HIV, treatment activists, and our supporters, has formed to organize an alternative international community-led online event.
The HIV2020 alliance has decided to organize the community-led event to provide an alternative for individuals who cannot or will participate in the AIDS2020 virtual conference. Its goal is to offer new opportunities to reaffirm the leading role communities play in the global HIV response.
To view each new episode every Monday, beginning today, visit this page.
This project was made possible by the financial support of the Bridging the Gaps Programme. This unique programme addresses the common challenges faced by sex workers, people who use drugs and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in terms of human rights violations and accessing much-needed HIV and health services. Go to www.hivgaps.org for more information.
Special thanks goes to Tonny van Montfoort, EuroNPUD representative on the INPUD Board, for driving this oral history project forward and setting out the creative vision, and to Igor Kuzmenko, Sasha levin, Mariam Jibuti and Lika Beritashvili for their great help in the realisation of this episode.
István Gábor Takács