The Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) led a global petition demanding Apple Incorporation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Tim Cook to urgently perform a formal review and remove all the apps made available by Apple immediately and issue an apology for hosting insensitive content. The letter was submitted to Mr. Cook on October 10, 2017. Our sincere thanks to the 131 organizations who supported the letter.

The petition was a successful advocacy effort in that the letter was able to generate huge media attention and some of the games were removed from the App Store. The case study is intended to document the story of victory and disseminate the detailed set of actions performed in the process. We hope that it will inform and inspire more advocacy actions from ANPUD as well as the community of people who use drugs facing challenges at different level.

Background

In June 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines waged his bloody war on drugs with a nation-wide campaign called “Oplan Tokhang” – a portmanteau of two words meaning ‘to knock’ and ‘to plead’. The initially declared 90-days war, envisioned to end criminality, illegal drugs and corruption, was extended until 6 months, and yet it continued at the same scale even after a year with no sign of delivering the promised results to the people of the Philippines.

As of this document was being developed, it had been a political debate on whether the killings were extrajudicial and if it constituted a crime against humanity. However, it could not change the fact that more than 13,000 people – many of them children – ostensibly suspected of using or selling drugs had lost their lives.

The truth was that it had merely been a ‘War on Poor’ bringing destruction to millions of lives of people who use drugs, including to thousands who were imprisoned under inhumane conditions and to the families and children of those who were killed.

Amid such crisis, numerous apps were made available through Apple App Store that actively promoted the war on people who use drugs in the Philippines. Some of these games had been downloaded by over a million iphone users. These games had to be removed immediately.