(NOTE: There are a few more important days such as the cannabis events and a few other crucial dates for substance lovers, activists, and others, to attend so this list will grow a bit more.) These dates are here because they are the most important dates that reoccur most years in the drug user calendar. Some are INPUD’s SPECIAL DAY’s, some are recurring conferences, but all of them are moments when we come together as activists and peers. If you want something especially mentioned, please email us your event – via INPUD or in the comment box below, that could be of interest to the regional or international activist community. (If it is a national issue – a written blog flagging it up that we can publish may work better but if it is regional or global, we should be able to put it here. Let people know what’s happening and help to support, lobby and publicize each others work and cause. Let the world know the date!!
Every year there’s always a time to be loud and proud!
1) International Women’s Day, 8th March, every year. For breaking news follow #womensday or on facebook/internationalwomensday Or discuss at all at LinkedIn/internationalwomensday There is no reason whatsoever that women who use drugs could not do something special on this day, either among themselves of joining up with a powerful or grassroots women’s group near you! This is the time when feminism is stripping itself down, shaking out whats not relevant for todays women, and trying to find a learned kind of crucial, dynamic, inclusive language to tempt todays (young especially) women to be proud of being a feminist. Women who use drugs, and other previously ‘victimised’ women’s groups, have a calling today to not just educate the new feminist and demand our own voices be heard and our stories understood avoiding repeating the old middle class mantras that effectively stripped the marginalised women’s narrative, and we became spoken, written or managed by the well meaning middle class feminist. Yet we have as drug using women – so much to learn from the history and lobbying of the women’s movement – so lets find ways to link up and share our knowledge. This day is calling out for it! Get organised ladies!
1) International Harm Reduction Alliance, now officially renamed and known as Harm Reduction International, continues to hold a special place in the global field of Harm Reduction, by pulling together a conference around the dates of 25-29th of April every two years. HRI consistently bring together everyone who is anyone in a (now bi-annual) conference of progressive, innovative, creative and principled and fascinating few days of networking and learning. Over 80 different nationalities regularly attend, and around 1000 people in all sorts of related work in the drugs field mingle, network, present and share their findings, all in a regularly evolving format that strives to keep things not just fresh but current, relevant and open to continuing important inroads and threads that began inside the conference itself. The Agency HRI were the first in the world to push through a global conference on this subject, and the organisation is an essential stop off when investigating this broad subject. People who use drugs and INPUD are often very well involved in tis conference in a variety of ways. Contact INPUD or HRI for more details, or just email or comment to me for a regular drug users perspective. Highly recommended and check dates and submit your abstract!
1) International Harm Reduction Day. On May 7th each year; (quoted from the website as 2014 was the first year of its’ launch) “…….Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. On International Harm Reduction Day we call for global drug policies to be evidence based and grounded in human rights. (Here is the link to the Tumblr site) As it is a new day, formed this year in fact, it is a great opportunity to really shake it by the horns and see what your group can do to raise awareness, and a wee bit of history in being the earliest activists for IHD!! and…
The 18 May this year (but every year), people around the world will host local community events to mark the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. This annual mobilization campaign has been taking place every year since 1983, led by coalition of community organisations globally, and coordinated by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+). The theme of 2014’s event for example was ‘Let’s keep the light on HIV’. GNP+ says “With the Candlelight Memorial falling just two months before the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the theme echoes the AIDS 2014 tagline, Stepping up the Pace, which reflects that the response has already been effective, but that it will only continue to be effective if support continues and grows.” Suzette Moses-Burton, Executive Director of GNP+, says, “Sunday 18th May will be the thirty first year of the Candlelight Memorial, a leading example of global community-led activism around the issue of HIV and AIDS. During that time, we have seen extraordinary advances in how this disease is recognized and treated. This change has only been able to come about through the incredible activism lead by the movement of people living with HIV.” The Candlelight Memorial is about recognizing those who have campaigned for the rights of people living with HIV, as well as remembering those who have fallen along the way.” Check out GNP+ website, it is truly fantastic, as an international organisation with such knowledge, passion and courage to keep the fight alive and the issue out there in people’s minds, always ensuring no one will have died for nothing. For as long as HIV positive activists draw breath, their passion and determination will ensure the torch of remembrance and enlightenment remains lit. Light a candle on May 18th and take part. Of note is that the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries. This website http://www.candlelightmemorial.org will provide posters, tell you where events are across the globe and provide support materials and info every step of the way whether you want to create an event or join in.
2nd June: International Sex Worker Day. In 1975, on 2nd June, about 100 sex workers occupied Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, France, to express their anger about their criminalised and exploitative living conditions. On 10th June at 5 o’clock the Church was brutally raided and cleared by police forces. This action sparked a national movement, and the day is now celebrated in Europe and around the world. Check out Global Network of Sex Worker Projects and information and ways to celebrate their/our special days by clicking here. Here is a link below to their fabulous toolkit on dealing with the media and creating safe and memorable events for moments like this. Called (click title) “Speak Up! A Guide to Strategic Media Tools and Tactics to amplify the Voices of People in the Sex Trades”; a perfect accompaniment to organising a memorable event.
21st July – International Remembrance Day for those who’ve died as a result of/alcohol and the drugs war. To be held in any city, town, country or village around the world you choose. Watch this space for press release before event. See some examples of IRD days on INPUD blog, and follow links for further info. The names and incidents of the many casualties of the War on Drugs will never really be known. International Remembrance Day is dedicated to those people, known and unknown, who have died in the war against drugs and drug users. It is a time when the drug using community can remember and pay tribute to our friends and loved ones; for the funerals we couldn’t attend, for the deaths that no one acknowledged, for the moment we never got to say goodbye. It is to remember those we know, and those we don’t – from our villages, towns and cities, in the UK and across the world. The vast majority of these deaths are not just deaths from drugs, but from the laws of prohibition and the pervasive ignorance and stigma that blindly follows. Here is a brief statement you are welcome to use for your day or to help guide you in creating your own statement or press release. Details on how you can put an important day such as this together (it can be reflected as the smallest candle and moments silence, to a national or global event) INPUD’s information on organising your day and memories of days past (click here). That page will also contain other links about IRD.
July (yet more!)
The International AIDS Conference will be held somewhere in the world usually around 18 to 23 July, every 2 years,. This, dear readers, is possibly perhaps the biggest single conference you may ever attend in your lifetime in the HIV/AIDS/sexual health/drug/harm reduction field! It goes on for a whole week, has everyone who is anyone in the medical and science HIV/AIDS field, plus all the drug companies, the new studies and ‘co-infection’ cohorts (eg HIV/TB; HIV/HCV; HIV/STDs etc). In fact it is soooo big (abstracts are always encouraged as are scholarships) it is quite overwhelming – BUT! The trick is to get advice from a nice, regular attendee about how to survive the week. (Must do: an INPUD page on surviving conferences!). Just pace yourself, never lose your map and agenda, plan your day AT LEAST the night before, and give yourself decent time to get from A to B (its horrid being late! AND prioritize your days choices into A,B,C. so if something is not what you were expecting, you know just what to do! Network and don’t forget to visit the Conference Global Village where all the grassroots groups have stalls and info (tshirts, activities, art, workshops etc, usually a well deserved break and chance to network). The conference also takes special care to look after its positive delegates and their carers and provides wonderful private spaces where one can have a rest, some food, a massage, a chat, before heading back to the biggest conference you’ll ever go to!! Well worth going if only once. NOTE: drug users and sex workers are needed to push themselves into the inside workings of the IAC board/steering group as it has been a common feature for bot groups to be somewhat overlooked in terms of inclusion/presenting etc. Contact INPUD directly or your countries national user union.
July (More still!)
The 28th July every year is World Hepatitis Day and is one of only a handful of ‘World Health Days’ recognised by the World Health Organization. The global impact of hepatitis B and hepatitis C is staggering. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 400 million people have chronic viral hepatitis worldwide. Many of these people are from our own community of people who inject drugs. Although it appears that WHO officially began this global event, in actual fact, the day was initially the International Hepatitis C Awareness day, coordinated by various European and Middle Eastern Patient Groups, which took place October 1, 2004. However many patient groups continued to mark ‘hepatitis day’ on disparate dates. For this reason in 2008, the World Hepatitis Alliance in collaboration with patient groups declared May 19 the first global World Hepatitis Day. Confused? Ahuh! By May 2010, following the adoption of a resolution during the 63rd World Health Assembly, World Hepatitis Day was given global endorsement as the primary focus for national and international awareness-raising efforts and the date was changed to July 28 (in honour of Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus, who celebrates his birthday on that date – how sweet…). The resolution resolves that “28 July shall be designated as World Hepatitis Day in order to provide an opportunity for education and greater understanding of viral hepatitis as a global public health problem, and to stimulate the strengthening of preventive and control measures of this disease in Member States.” (Link to more text on the history and its’ impact click here) World Hepatitis Day is now recognised in over 100 countries each year through events such as free screenings, poster campaigns, demonstrations, concerts, talk shows, flash mobs and vaccination drives, amongst many others. Each year a report is published by the WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance detailing all the events across the world. There are loads of opportunities to do something for this special on this ‘official’ day since the WHO gets behind it. Hepatitis groups, patients and advocates worldwide take part in events and notably in 2012, a Guinness World Record was created when 12,588 people from 20 countries did the Three Wise Monkeys actions on World Hepatitis Day to signify the willful ignorance of the disease. So what will you do? Links to: World Hepatitis Day from the World Hepatitis Alliance who have loads of useful materials and images to use, plus heaps of social media link ups and places to share stories, photos, tweets etc. well worth a look. Link to: World Hepatitis Day from the World Health Organisation, The WHO’s addressing of our ‘World Hepatitis Day’ provides an opportunity to focus on specific actions, such as: strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases; increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration of the vaccine into national immunization programmes; and coordinating a global response to viral hepatitis. Perhaps a little more for those who are interested in the global response to Hepatitis. The WHO Goal: moving from awareness to commitment and action to address the “silent epidemic” of viral hepatitis. Your own country will probably have a central focus where you can gather support to develop an awareness raising event.
The 30th August and a green (often now seen as purple or silver) ribbon represent International Overdose Awareness Day. Starting out in Victoria, Australia, by VIVAIDs, a community/user run grassroots project (eg like a drug user union), the story goes that links were made with a member of the local Salvation army who was very interested in supporting the cause. But sadly the Salvation Army whilst trying to be helpful do gooders, managed to take over the entire event after a while using their huge PR machine and millions of government dollars, and now it has become a virtual anti drugs day with overdose awareness education thrown in. HOWEVER, the using fraternity are fighting back and more and more users across the world are taking up the day, the ribbon and their own messages and peer education to raise the issue. The Aussies have the history, contact VIVAIDS or AIVL for more news on the event and how to take it back for a day for our friends. I searched for the real story on this but couldn’t find any facts only fragments from memories of conversations from those involved. I will endeavor to find out more and get back to you. It is still a very worthwhile day to raise awareness of Overdoses.
November 1st -IDUD; International Drug User Day! One of THE most special days in the drug user calendar but as yet, the most under explored. But that will all soon change! started by the group LSD in Amsterdam, Holland around a decade or so ago, it has remained the one day orf the year were people who use drugs can throw off their shackles of another’s ignorance and misguided opinions and find joy and liberation in their own beautiful souls and their courage to experience what is a natural part of life, the journey to the centre of our being, and the desire to understand where we come from and who we are. And just celebrating having lotsa fun! Here is n edited version of a beautiful statement from the Swedish Drug Users Union about this special day… “People who use currently illegal drugs have been labelled immoral, criminal, and sick, often a combination of all three at the same time. We have been moralised over, criminalised and pathologised. On this International Drug Users’ Day, we say enough. On this International Drug Users’ Day we assert the right to bodily integrity, and to privacy, we reclaim control over our bodies and minds and assert the right of consenting adults to use whatever drugs they choose, whether it be for pleasure, to self-medicate, to enhance performance, to alter consciousness or to provide some succour and relief from hard lives, we insist that as adults that right is ours. We defend the right of adults to use their drugs of choice in their homes without causing harm or nuisance to others, and to carry them in public without fear of police harassment, abuse and intimidation……The use of consciousness altering drugs is an integral part of the human experience, common to all cultures throughout history, as such drug use is neither bad, mad, nor sick, it should not, and need not, be a crime. The use of currently illegal drugs is not a sign of moral depravity, a character fault, a marker of criminal tendencies, or of pathology, it is no more and no less than one aspect of what it is to be human, a part of the diversity of human experience. ….(click here for more of this fabulous text about a drug users life and liberty on IDUD!)
1st December every year marks, World AIDS Day. The time to get your red ribbon out should not be just this day, remember to wear it on various days all the year around, as, a small red ribbon latched on your lapel, is able to send the warmest of hugs to a positive person you might just walk by in the street that day. What a special thing to give to someone you dont know, especially if they are feeling down. It reminds you that people really care out there, and there are those who will even carry a small flag of acknowledgment and awareness and compassion for you, for us all…But, the HIV/AIDS story is so big that our group can focus on a whole variety of its aspects. For example, in 2011, members of INPUD, sparked off by London’s GLADA Women’s Voices, connected and supported 12 cities around the world and their drug user groups to liaise together via cyberspace, plan the action, and on the 1st of December (World AIDS Day) we all rained down on Russian Embassies from Sydney to Georgia, from London, Stockholm and Mexico, to New York (and 6 more cities!) -all to protest against Russia’s shameful treatment of people who use drugs who have HIV and those at risk through dire government policies that are effectively sending thousands upon thousands of people to their deaths and reigniting a whole region of the east of Europe with spiraling, out of control new infections of HIV, and many others left to needlessly die through sheer lack of political will. The overriding shock for everyone was the effects of home made ‘krokodil’, an opiate drug the poorest were resorting too, possibly resulting in the most horrific injuries and deaths our community has ever seen. All this as the street heroin gets diverted by Russian mafia and government officials to Europe for the best price and the option of methadone or Subutex still remains illegal for all Russians. Their plight is dire but on that day at least, we tried to send a message to our peers that we will not forget them, we hear their pain, we will continue to tell whoever will listen, and we will use what weapons we have to unite in their struggle. Check out the blog based solely on the issues and the protest on the protest and FaceBook site for the amazing camaraderie and activities on the day, plus a short film our wonderful German friends put together on the entire global event. So what issue will you raise this World AIDS Day?? Here is a link for ideas on how you can fundraise Let us know if there is a reoccurring global event that is relevant to our drug using community and we might just include it in this list. Use the comment box below and we will get back to you. We still have another one or two to add so check back and see what else crops up! Adios for now!