`A drug addict needs treatment, not torture to recover`

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By Gautam Sharma
IMPHAL, August 4: Even though the crisis of Goubiakthang who succumbed to his injuries sustained while being in a de-addiction center was negotiated between the family of the deceased and the de-addiction authority recently, members of the drug users community and leaders of various NGOs have been crying hoarse condemning the dead of Goubiakthang while still in the de-addiction center.

Pertaining to the incident, a silent protest demonstration was held today by members of the Drug Users community inside the premise of Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+) office at Yaiskul.

The protestors further took out a silent protest rally starting from the MNP+ office and concluding at the same location passing through Keishampat. The protestor tied their mouth with a black scarf carrying placard and some protestor carried a black coffin.

Placards used during the protests reads, ‘we condemned your slaughter house civilization’; ‘we demand justice’; ‘we do abide by law’; ‘where is your law’; ‘we seek treatment not to get kill’; ‘drug users are not born to chain’ ; ‘health is wealth….. Where our heath ’; ‘Respect human right, drugs users are human’; ‘Respect human right’, etc.

One Sunil, who identified himself as an activist, informed IFP that the placard represent the mouth of the oppressed drug users. He added that the reason for keeping their mouths tied up is because, no one wants to listen to our desperate voices, he added. He stated, “Silence is meaningful, let us wait and see what our movement will bring”.

On the sidelines of the protest this IFP reporter also met with various NGO chief functionaries.

R.K Tiken joint secretary Social Awareness Service Organisation (SASO) stated that the issue is very crucial because such gross violation of human rights is going to hamper the prevention and intervention process of HIV/AIDS.

He stated, “We have been screaming for over decades to reduced stigma and discrimination, so that the treatment process of a drug user can be accelerated” and further added that such incidents as the Goubiakthang issue pollutes the real meaning of a rehabilitation center which should have a dedicated cause for the drug users and help them return to the mainstream”.

He further asked, “Why the community should keep mum after one of us have been killed like a chicken?” before adding, “Community’s concern, is our concern”.

In a meeting with this IFP reporter at his office, MNP+ president Deepak said that this kind of incidents may generate a concept that Drug User can be killed and latter compromise.

However he also lamented the fact that the general public remained silent spectators in the issue and never came out to address the issue.

He added every drug users are someone’s brother, sons, husband, and father, however this is not the first time when drug users have been discriminated against by the society.

He also added that such incidents clearly indicates it is time for the government to asses and re-asses all rehabilitation centers in the state to safeguard the lives of the drug users and added that no group or individual should be allowed to establish a rehab center without accreditation.

Meanwhile, in another exclusive interview with IFP, SASO general secretary Y Sashikumar has said that the incident clearly shows that our state needs a dedicated drug policy.

He also stated that the World Health Organization had already approved addiction as a disease and maintained that, “ an addict needs treatment and not torture to recover”.

He further called upon the state social welfare department not to ignore such incidents and that it is high time the department take the issue at hand seriously.

A recovering addict told IPF, “Drug users are not bad people or mad people but just sick people; he only needs treatment of a disease so called ‘addiction’”.

A source has maintained that CCpur has 14 Rehab but only four are running under the guidelines of MSJE and added that on August 8, representative of community members from eight district of the state will go on a rally in CCpur regarding the death of Goubiakthang.

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