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Narcotisation And Authoritarianism: New Documentary On Belarus’ Drug War

Activists from the civic education and advocacy campaign group Legalize Belarus have published an advocacy documentary – Narcotisation And Authoritarianism – about the war on drugs in Belarus. Scroll down to watch the film, or view it on YouTube here.

The film tells the story of anti-drug law enforcement practices, prison conditions in penitentiary institutions of Belarus, and everyday life challenges that former prisoners and people who use drugs face in the country. To convey the origins of stereotypes to the viewer, numerous clips from of USSR, Russian, and Belarusian anti-drug videos are used in the film.

“Criminalisation of people who use drugs, impossibility to defend oneself in the court, and forced labour in punitive camps are direct manifestations of the authoritarian regime. The society does not respect the right of people to their own bodies, their freedom of choice. State propaganda, anti-scientific information, and stereotypes distort people's notion about reality. Drugs users are called “narcomaniacs” and treated worse than murderers.”

“Uniformity of views of the state and society on this issue leads to mass uncontrolled violence on an incomparable scale. People who use drugs are an extremely vulnerable group in such situations. Innocent people are convicted for years of isolation in inhumane conditions. We have to stop it as soon as possible”, a creator of the film, Piotr Markiełaŭ, has said.

“If you give electricity to the savages, touching the bare wire they will conclude that electricity kills them, electricity is evil, and electricity should be banned. They will even create myths about the horrors of electricity and valiant heroes that fight it. They will pass these tales from generation to generation.” Markiełaŭ said, referring to prohibitionist policymakers.

“But if you teach the savages how electricity is used, explain what it is, they will no longer be savages.”

People that make decisions have declared that psychoactive substances is evil. They banned these substances. And almost nobody knows what exactly these substances are, because they are even banned to research. People who use drugs are regarded as criminals, they are deprived of liberty on disproportionately long terms.

“The desire to ban psychoactive substances and to severely punish drug use is caused only by lack of knowledge and fear. When people who make decisions behave like this, they look like savages”, another creator of the film, Dzianis Boršč, noted.

The release of the film is timed to the beginning of the spring session of Belarusian parliament. Decriminalisation of small amounts of the controlled substances remain the main advocacy goal of Legalize Belarus. On the same day a year ago, activists went to the Parliament with letters of the word "decriminalisation". After that, some of them were arrested and fined.

English, Belarusian and Russian subtitles are available for the film.

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