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Background on Syringe Festival and Conference

Network Against Prohibition

This conference was initiated by the Network Against Prohibition (NAP), a Darwin based non-funded, autonomous group of drug users and civil rights activists.

Since forming in March 2002, NAP has sustained a direct action campaign against draconian Labor Government introduced legislation affecting drug users in the N.T. This includes "drug house" legislation, youth curfew legislation, increased police "discretionary" powers, discrimination against s8 (schedule 8 medications ie/morphine) dependant people and "community policing" of "itinerants".

NAP actions have included; responding to tip-offs and picketing outside drug raids whilst in progress; occupation of the Chief Minister and Chief Health Officers offices; disrupting the Legaslative Assembly whilst it was in session; presenting the (now sacked) Police Minister with a silver platter containing pigs heads at the annual NT Police Association meeting; collaborating with the Longgrass Association to occupy the Darwin City Council chambers; demonstrations outside the Justice Department and Parliament House and holding information stalls outside the Magistrates Court whilst people inside were facing prosecution under "drug house" legislation.

NAP has successfully highlighted and engaged the community in the urgent need for drug law reform through monthly Smoke-Ins for Human Rights, dance parties with safe injecting spaces, information stalls at markets and university, relentless flyer and poster distribution and conducting interviews with local,national and international media. In 2002 NAP collected over 700 signatures on a petition against "drug house" and "anti-social conduct" legislation as well as lodging numerous complaints with the Ombudsman about the conduct of the NT Police and the Medical Board.

Direct Action

Only through common struggle based on self-organized direct action can people bring about their own liberation. In contrast, indirect action is allowing/ encouraging/ tolerating other people to do something on your behalf or in your name. Appealing to third parties to solve your problems doesn't work. Especially if they are the people who created the problems in the first place, doubly so if they stand to profit from the concequences of these problems.

Direct action is a means of keeping struggle for a better future under our own direct democratic control. It is a more effective form of highlighting issues that directly affect us than lobbying. Direct action is the powerful means by which people become aware of their oppression and the means to counter it.

Not only is direct action empowering and solidarity building, it is cultural form in itself. Anyone who has done it will never forget the buzz!!! By putting our ideas into practice, taking control of our lives and learning to trust and be trusted in the heat of the moment, direct action is a now-thing that can help us build a new society in the shell of the old. Direct action is central to confidence, which is essential to creating a culture of resistance, the core of the new movement we are building totally independent to the existing order. Solidarity, the idea that only through cooperation in society can human beings be liberated and free, is given practical meaning in direct action. It means giving something to yourself and to others- it is doing something useful.

Confidence, self-education and solidarity are the basis of both change and ability to create further change toward liberation. Through every direct action, people demonstrate to themselves they are not merely a dispensible commodity. People gain self-confidencce in their abilities and gain a sence of self worth, in doing so becoming more acutely aware of their own oppression and the urgent need for an alternative to our collective circumstances.

In attempting to build a new society within the old, the self-organizing, self-education and self-confidence around direct action is an ongoing ignitor for fresh change. Once it gets going, it feeds itself. Aims, principals, whats, hows, whys are emerging (or re-emerging) internationally, giving real strength to direct action. There is a greater realization that using direct action and self-organizing instead of negotiation and beurocratic leadership is paramount to success. This struggle must be based on solidarity- there are no short cuts. "Unity is strength" is central to every struggle and every action, and only through this can we really expect to progress.

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