International Remembrance Day 2008

Date: 24 July 2008

  • Print
  • Bookmark and Share

InternationalDrugUserRemembranceDay.jpgOn Monday the 21st of July, over 50 people gathered in Kennington Park, London to commemorate International Remembrance Day - a day to remember those who have died as a direct or indirect result of drug use and/or drug policies. Thanks to the dedicated staff of Black Poppy Magazine and GLADA Women’s Voices, this was the first time the event was recognised in the UK. The event was also supported by the Lambeth Service User Council and Harm Reduction International, as well as numerous members of London's drug using community.

The first Remembrance Day was organised in Germany in 1998 by a group of parents and relatives who had lost loved ones as a result of drugs. Since that time, Remembrance Day has developed from a series of small local meetings into the largest country-wide action day for people who use drugs. It also grew from a day of mourning into an opportunity for awareness building, activism and political lobbying – with demonstrations organised each year to highlight a key theme such as drug decriminalisation, substitution treatments or needle and syringe exchanges in prisons. This year, events were also held in countries including Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Australia and Canada.

The London event was organized as a way for members of the UK’s drug using community ‘to pay tribute to the memory of their peers, many of whose deaths remain statistics often with no recognition or celebration of their lives and no opportunity for their friends or loved ones in the drug using community to take part in their funerals.’ It was also an opportunity to highlight key advocacy issues, including stigma and discrimination against people who use drugs, and the need for Drug Consumption Rooms and peer-led overdose awareness and prevention programmes.

A number of speakers took part, including Rick Lines from Harm Reduction International who spoke on human rights abuses related to the 'war on drugs'. There was also live music, poetry and the reading of remembrances of persons lost. Twenty-one doves were released into the sky at the end of the event as a special visual tribute.

Harm Reduction International would like to thank Black Poppy and everyone else involved in organising such an important and successful event this year. We look forward to attending the event next year and for many years ahead.

© 2021 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265