Organisations: New Vector, GeNPUD. With participation form the Georgian Football Federation, the National Center for National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, the Center of Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction, the Tbilisi City Hall, the Tbilisi City Assembly, the Alliance for the Control of Tobacco, Harm Reduction Center Georgia and the Georgian Health Promotion and Education Foundation.
A community of people who use drugs has been fighting for the humanization of repressive drug policies since 2006 in Tbilisi, Georgia. However, the current government continues to pursue a policy of violence against its citizens, tens of thousands of whom have been declared criminals because of their drug use. Repressive drug policy is fighting people, not the problem, it takes away their freedom and hope for the future, their health and, most importantly, life!
The Georgian Network of People Who Use Drugs (GeNPUD) conducted the first large-scale rally in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2013, because the Ministry had always resisted the humanization of drug policy. Law enforcement structures constantly used systemic violence against drug users and prevented the drug policy from becoming more humane in Georgia.
In 2017, GeNPUD traditionally joined the global campaign “Support. Don’t Punish”. Activists from nine regions of Georgia gathered in front again in front of the the Ministry of Internal Affairs and demanded drug policy reform, which would prevent the Ministry from using violent measures against drug users.
This year, GeNPUD organized a mini-football tournament together with the Georgian Football Federation, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, the Center for Mental Health and Drug Prevention, the Tbilisi City Hall, the Tbilisi City Assembly, the Alliance for the Fight against Tobacco Harm, the Center for the Restoration of Georgia and the Foundation for Health Promotion and Education in Georgia. In parallel to the tournament, all participants were able to take part in voluntary testing for HIV and viral hepatitis C and B.
Media coverage was very positive and helped to change many negative media stereotypes about “sick” drug users, popular with the media. The success of this action and the positive feedback of all participants means that such sports tournaments will become an annual event.
GeNPUD also produced this video to capture the day and disseminate messages in favour of policy reform.