On the 26th of June, activists from all over the world took action against global drug prohibition under the "Support. Don't Punish" slogan. Please read our interview with the coordinator of the campaign, Jamie Bridge, who is a senior policy and operations manager at the International Drug Policy Consortium!
Drugreporter: Tell us about the background of this campaign! How and why did you decide to launch it, what is its goal?
Jamie Bridge: The original idea came about through a Dutch-funded project in five countries called “Community Action on Harm Reduction” – focused in Asia and Africa mainly. The country partners wanted some kind of campaign or branding that they could use in their work – so, after much discussion, Support Don’t Punish was born as a broad brand that partners could use at the national level. The campaign started in 2013, and the uptake far exceeded our expectations and spread way beyond the five project countries. This showed the appetite out there for actions like this to promote harm reduction, drug law reform and the rights of people who use drugs.
Drugreporter: How do you support the organisations and activists who decide to join the campaign?
Jamie Bridge: It depends on what they need. We have a wide variety of partners engaged every year, some of whom don’t require any additional support from us, and others who need funding, materials and guidance. So we produce a range of materials on our website that anyone can access, and we send out t-shirts and other materials if people ask for them. We also provide small grants to partners in countries to help fund things like venue hire, printing, travel, etc. Finally, we have a team in London and in Bangkok who are there to assist in any way we can – by email, phone and now also through an online communication tool called Slack.
Drugreporter: Last year 125 cities participated in the campaign. How many cities do expect this year? Is there any new place or special event you would like to highlight?
Jamie Bridge: Monday 26th June will be the fifth Global Day of Action for the campaign, and at the latest count we know of events in more than 200 cities across more than 90 countries – with more being confirmed all the time. You can see all of these on our Day of Action map on the www.supportdontpunish.org. Some events are taking place over the weekend, other later in the week (due to the 26th June being Eid Mubarak this year), but all are linked to the campaign. Highlights include public concerts and debates in Belgium, a float parade towards Parliament in Ghana, a training workshop for religious leaders in Mauritius, street art across five Portuguese cities, a fake drug shop in Paris, and even a 250km bike road trip on the Delhi-Rajasthan Highway in India! This will be the biggest ever Day of Action, and a global show of force from civil society.
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Thumbnail: CC Support Don't Punish campaign.