Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
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Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are drug-users criminals?

The news about Indonesia's (used to be) famous singer jailed for drug-possession reminded us of a tragic event occurred about a year ago. A colleague, call her Z, was a rising star. Smart and insanely hard-working, she climbed up the rank so fast many people couldn't believe it. Her last assignment was a high-profile project, so important that everybody thought a seat in senior management was pretty much reserved for her, if she could pull the project off. And we all knew she could.
In her late twenties, she would be the youngest person holding such position.

Then one day, when she was supposed to attend a very important meeting, she failed to show up. Nobody knew where she was. Being single and living alone, with parents miles away in eastern Indonesia, we had no other way to find her other than sending an Intern to her house after hundred of phone calls went unanswered.

In short, she was found dead in her bedroom.

Everybody was in shock. Not one soul ever knew she was a drug user. Not her close friends, not her colleagues, not even her own mother. No one. Pretty, very active, sporty, always on top of the situation and always with very witty sense of humor, the thought of her being a drug-addict had never crossed anybody's mind.

We have failed to recognize that she needed help until it was too late.
And we believe there are many who share Z's problem out there. Stressed-out, feeling helpless unable to fight own addiction, with nobody to share the problem with. Utterly and completely alone.

Right then we realized how we have criminalized and demonized drug-users so much. We shame them, we scare them, we force them into hiding.

Drug users are not criminals. They are people who need our help. They are our friends, our husbands, wives, sons, daughters.
No, we are not defending drug-use, and yes, drug abuse is a problem, a very big problem.
That is exactly the point: the first step in solving a problem is by admitting that we do have a problem. How are we going to ask drug users to admit their addiction if we are going to throw them in jail as soon as they open their mouth?

Drug dealers are criminals. Drug users are not. Drug dealers belong in jail. Drug users don't.
Yes, that's right. We think it is important to decriminalize drug use.
Because if it can happen to Z -- a lovely, smart, highly educated girl with very very bright future ahead of her -- , it can happen to anybody. And if by any chance it happened to any of our loved ones, there is nothing else in the world we would give other than help and support to fight the addiction.

Not jail.

To our Z (1979 - 2006)
We still remember you fondly. Rest in peace.


Blogger a0z0ra said...

So sad. Very suspicious though.

Could it be a trap? That her enemies drugged her to death?

Things like this could happened in Indonesia...

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm totally agree with you. It's nice to know that this perspective is brought up-front.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Berly said...

I studied in Amsterdam for two years and they have an approach to drug which is quite interesting.

The Netherlands legalize soft drugs but it can only consumed (not strictly observed, I admit) inside a particular kind of cafe. Licensed and routinely inspected. Any overdose inside their premise could, if proven negligence, cause the owner to loose their license.

The hard drug is banned and illegal, with stricter implementation by police and harsh punishment.

So those who are over the trying phase and feel that they start to get into the addiction phase can go to therapy without any legal sanction. It also remove the heroic stigma of breaking the rule that the youth often tempted to.

The Netherlands ranks quite low on drug abuse rate among European countries. To check the stat click here

10:27 AM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

a0z0ra, your concern is very sweet. Thank you.
Most of us suspected foul-play before too. Including Z's mother who insisted on autopsy.
However, a few weeks after the death, when we visited Z's mother, she told us that Z's personal effects confirmed her addiction. Apparently she had been using drugs since university and nobody ever knew.
It really broke the mom's heart and a bit too painful to write here. We felt really awful and guilty.
But since you mentioned it we thought we should at least make it clear. There was no foul play.

Andrianto, thank you for the comment.

Berly, thank you for your info about the policy in Netherlands and also the link. Very interesting indeed.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what Berly said, I think that:
When you are not allowed to do something, you'll tend to sneak and do it because they are curious (why I'm not allowed to do this, must be something interesting behind it). But if the law is more lenient (you are allowed to do it), less people will be interested in it.

11:17 AM  
Blogger perempuan hujan said...

People are judged by their appearance; biological, social, mental and spiritual. Our so-called normality is defined by what most people do and do not do. Married: normal. Single: abnormal. Heterosexual: normal. Homosexual: abnormal. Smoking cigarettes: normal. Smoking weed: abnormal.
That is conformed by the system.

Schools give ranks to salute their most diligent, easily indoctrinated student (and particularly in our beloved homeland, Indonesia, has all the family fortune to afford the expensive school extracurricula). Not the real genius, free thinker yet could not afford the school fee (I mean, the fee which school uses to buy computers and build indoor sports court). Education system has sadly produced copycats not inventors. Imitator not creator.

Religion praises godly-mannered person and condemns sinner. Should it not be the sin that God forbids instead of the soul? Is that not compassion that we ought to give instead of judgement? Wasn't those commandments given by God meant to see the giant elephant in front of our nose instead of tiny ant across the sea?

No, I know neither how to nor do something to change that. Because I am just one of those imitators and godly-mannered people. And I should stop now before I introduce my own standard of normality.

10:12 AM  

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