Friday, October 19, 2012

Drug User Enslavement Pt 1

When you take a group of people, label them as different based on their choice of intoxicant, and then round them up and lock them in facilities where they work for little or no money, is called justice in the United States.  I call it slavery.

It is now widely recognized that labeling a group of people based on some arbitrary metric such as skin color, and then using that metric to stigmatize and discriminate that group is morally wrong.  The institution of racially based slavery in the United States is rightly viewed as a great travesty in history.  However most people are blind to this travesty being played out again, only with choice of intoxicant replacing skin color as the arbitrary metric used to stigmatize and enslave a certain group of people.  At least its good to know that the US isn't the only country that enslaves drug users.  Check out this article in the Atlantic.  Drug users in the US, who do no harm to anyone but themselves (and even then less so than tobacco or alcohol), are regularly incarcerated where they work for between 30 to 70 cents per hour.


At any given time, over 300,000 people are locked up in mandatory drug detention in China like the one where Lixin was held. Police often pick people up off the streets and take them immediately into custody, keeping them in "treatment" for years at a time. Although it's difficult to track down standard practices -- many of the centers allow neither rights monitors nor press -- it's believed that these programs offer no clinical care and don't conduct patient evaluations.

"All drug detention is, is work. We get up at five in the morning to make shoes. We work all day and into the night. That's all it is," a former Chinese drug detainee told Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2009. Du, another patient of a Chinese treatment program, echoed the complaint, saying, "The detox center is a factory. We work every day, until late in the night, even if we are sick, even if we have AIDS." drug abuse in China isn't considered a criminal offense, drug users are usually sent to detention centers without any formal trial, never seeing the inside of a courtroom. 

What is even worse is that researchers at NIDA are using these prisoners (slaves) as participants in research trials.

The authors state that the participants gave informed consent, gaining approval from the Peking University Health Center review board, but Mr. Amon questions the validity of the claim, noting that the Beijing Ankang Hospital and the Tian-Tang-He Drug Rehabilitation center have historically been compulsory programs staffed with more police officers than doctors. Amon began to question the researchers' description of detained drug users as "patients" and the detention centers as "hospitals." It's difficult, Amon says, to determine if "informed consent" in such a setting can be truly voluntary.

"NIDA seems to be saying that they are willing to ignore human rights abuses and support misleading and even unethical research to fulfill a mission of advancing knowledge on drug addiction." He continued, "Is there really nowhere NIDA won't go, no type of research they won't support? Individuals in these centers are being held illegally, abused, and denied care."

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