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[#ENDING AIDS] Building Empathy, Transforming Lives: The Support. Don’t Punish Campaign

A Collective Call for Action by The Malaysian AIDS Council

For the past 11 years, the Support. Don’t Punish Campaign have been realised with great dedication
around a Global Day of Action, inspiring Malaysians to observe this day annually on 26 June. This
day is also the United Nation’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Historically, this date has also been used by governments to showcase drug control “achievements” in coercive terms – something that brings not positive impact on communities’ well-being. From burning displays of seized drugs, to public trials where people criminalised for drug offences are sent off for execution, and even grandstanding declarations of war. These gruesome theatrics on the “war on drugs” glorify punishment and violence over human rights and dignity.

The UNODC World Drug Report estimates most of the number of drug-related deaths are related to
overdose and untreated hepatitis C, which speaks volumes of the multiple health crises at the heart
of drug-related harm. Lest we forget, the hepatitis and HIV epidemics also hit people who use drugs
the hardest.

People First: Building A Response the Community Deserves

To shift the day’s narrative and advance, this year’s unique campaign is centred on “reclaiming people
power for sustainable alternatives to the war on drugs.” With our focus on people who use drugs, we
wholeheartedly support their human rights, as we work together towards creating a relevant context
for the current drug toxicity crisis ravaging our country.

We, the Malaysian AIDS Council, are united today in our aim to shift the narrative surrounding drug control in Malaysia. We call upon the  government to adopt drug policies that are based on evidence and human rights, aligned with the Declaration of Human Rights as we mark its 75th anniversary.

We welcome the strong leadership of the Malaysian government in promoting ‘non-discriminatory policy solutions centred around people, human rights, and people with regards to the national drugs situation. We find that this is relevant in our efforts to building a response the community deserves.

We also welcome the governments’ instrumental role in pushing for improved coherence within the
Malaysian system on drug policy matters, in particular with the adoption and dissemination of the UNSystem Common Position on drugs, which encourages the entire UN Family (including Malaysia) to speak in one voice in promoting drug policies that are ‘truly balanced, comprehensive, integrated, 
human rights-based, evidence-based, development-oriented, and sustainable’.

Decriminalisation in Malaysia offers a path towards understanding and support, recognising that
substance use disorders require treatment and compassion, and not incarceration. It is about giving
individuals the help they need to overcome addiction thus helps them rebuild their lives.

While we have seen considerable movement in Malaysia, we hope to push for a stronger human
rights agenda in the nations drug policy debates. We believe sustainable change is not just about law
reform, but winning hearts and mind.

Through productive engagements with the public and sharing of helpful information, we can help
revise the current narrative and promote human rights and harm reduction initiatives.

Furthermore, we encourage everyone to consider referring to the global campaign, “Support. Don’t Punish”” . For more than a decade, the campaign has gathered millions of people and resourced hundred of grassroots groups, building bridges between decision makers and affected communities,
promote community leadership, and challenge state violence and neglect in favour of rights-affirming
and caring responses. Each of your support would strongly resonate with this global show of force for
meaningful change thus inspire advocates for drug policy reform across Malaysia.

As ever, we remain available to support our community in a shared vision of LEAVING NO ONE

#Harmreduction saves lives! #SupportDontPunish #MACares #EndingAIDS