Raheem Janmohammad, a member of INPUD and the Afghan Drug User’s Group in Afghanistan, was unable to attend the UNAIDS meeting. NGO Delegate for Europe Mat Southwell read Raheem’s following personal account to the audience.
We are the forgotten dirt of Kabul city. We are never safe. We have nowhere to hide.
We live under extreme poor living conditions, hidden in the dirt of the riverbed in Kabul-city and even there they do not leave us alone. They chase us away, but we have nowhere to go. They try to beat harder, but they do not offer a solution. They tell us we belong under the ground.
Every week, the contra-narcotic police come to hunt for us. They beat us away and burn all our blankets and clothes. Even after so many years, they still don’t seem to understand that we are not there by choice; we have nowhere else to go. They only beat us harder and harder, we see more and more victims. From our situation there are two ways: Either we get an effective treatment, or we die under these circumstances. Right now, the ministry of Contra-Narcotics has blocked the only Methadone treatment in the country.
When somebody dies due to HIV, overdose or other preventable healthcare problems, the body often remains in the location for 2 or 3 days before the police will collect his corps. My friends and I arranged a funeral a few days ago. Then one day later, a policeman came to our shelter and said that I’m responsible for his death. I know he only wants money. I hope he will not come back, I don’t know if I’ll have enough money. We have been beaten many times by the police for defending the rights of our friends and we have to constantly deal with this cruel corruption. All we want is just to be treated as a human beings. We want a life of care, love and free of violence. We want this for every human being.
Since many years now we have faced a constant violation of our human rights. People who use drugs are not considered human beings. The impact of this aggressive police-attitude has massive impacts on the public health of our vulnerable population.
The only result we have seen of all these beatings is that the population has spread out through the city in worse and worse living conditions. Two years before, the population was mainly concentrated in an abandoned area were everybody was living in an empty building. The organizations could reach the vulnerable population everyday very easily for their harm reduction activities and basic health care.
Now our community is spread out through the city and many of them are no longer reached by the harm reduction organizations. Some of them, we don’t even know if they have still access to clean syringes. Many of them do not even have shelter anymore for the freezing cold Afghan winters and they freeze to death during the night.
Police repression has only led to more victims under this vulnerable population here in Afghanistan.