How Death Comes

How the hell can you side anybody when you can’t get even on your horse?

—Tector Gorch

There is a book called History: A Novel, in which Elsa Morante opens, like a gaping wound, the people of Italy, during the years of World War II, through the experiences of glowing jewels of human life, utterly disregarded by the mad military motherfuckers rampaging everywhere, as but the flotsam and jetsam of “non-combatants.”

And hey: like Hunter S. Thompson once said: “we may be approaching a heinous new record for mixed metaphors in this thing; the rats have swarmed into the belfry, and anything sane that survives will be hurled out to sea and stomped down like a dwarf in a shitrain.”

Anyway. At the dawn of each chapter Morante coldly records the “historic events” of each year. Which, as is almost always true, of almost churchof all histories, all over the world, bloodlessly recount but the movements of big armies, and the remarks of big statesmen.

Then, in the chapters themselves, she relates how individual human beings had to try to live day-to-day, as these monstrosities of armies, and monsters of statesmen, moved in such a way, as to extinguish their lives. Without ever knowing, considering, understanding, valuing, those lives.

It is an important book, a soul-aching book, a book like few others. But I don’t think I can can read it again. Not at least until I’m on my deathbed. Because by the time I reached the end, and it had all inevitably and quickly fallen in on the final trio of innocents—the woman, the child, the animal—I felt barely able to continue to live.

All books—all art, all words, all thoughts—that treat any war, that treat any violence, should proceed as does Morante’s History. In the effect upon the innocent. Those who just happen to be there, who are “in the way.”

For, in this way, it can be seen, it can be felt, it can be understood, that there is never any justification, for any war, for any violence.

Death is all about you choosing sides. That’s how he gets off. That’s how he comes. In all his Thanatos glory. If he can get you to, in a contest of violence, pick a side: you’re his. You’ll condone, in silence or otherwise, violence against The Other. You’ve picked a side. You’ll root. The blood will, first, be on your hands. Then, rising to your waist. Until, finally, it flows into your mouth.

It is the innocents who mostly always are those who die.

In Crimea at present drug addicts are dying because the retrovert purse-lipped prude government of Vladimir Putin no more countenances drugs than it does sex.

Prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, drug addicts in the region could avail themselves of “substitution therapy,” in which they obtained government-sanctioned opiates, rather than street-illegals; this served to “provide those addicted to heroin or other opiates shoot itwith a safe way to take drugs, which does not involve injecting and thus reduc[es] the risk of transmitting HIV and other diseases. It also decriminalises drug users, giving them the chance to begin a normal life.”

At the start of last year, there were about 8,700 Ukrainians on substitution therapy, including some 800 in Crimea, says Pavlo Skala of the HIV Alliance in Kiev. However, substitution therapy is strictly illegal in Russia.

Instead, Russia uses “cold-turkey” detoxification programmes, and authorities moved quickly to shut down Crimea’s drug programmes within a few weeks of annexing the territory last spring.

And so:

As many as 100 drug users in Crimea may have died since the peninsula was annexed by Russia, according to a top UN official, due to the fact that the “substitution therapy” they were receiving from Ukrainian authorities is illegal under Russian law.

Russian drugs authorities even carried out the televised burning of tens of thousands of methadone doses seized from Crimean clinics.

Ukraine, of which Crimea was until recently a part, “has one of the worst HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world and the spread of the disease has been fuelled mainly by injection drug use.”

But, unlike in many Eastern European states, the country has been running for more than a decade an internationally lauded range of harm reduction programmes which have been credited with checking the disease’s spread.

These have included opioid substitution therapy (OST) programmes available to drug users across the country. These are particularly important in East Ukraine because the majority of Ukraine’s injection drug users come from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

But local and international organisations working with drug users say that addicts’ access to life-saving treatment in those areas has come under increasing pressure since the start of the conflict and that it could be cut off entirely within weeks as supplies of methadone and buprenorphine used in the treatment run out and cannot be replaced.

Because humanoid apes are currently fighting, and primarily in the Luhansk and Donetsk dirt-holes, over whether certain dirt-clods of Ukraine should remain in “Ukraine,” or be part of some other dirt-clod agglutination, one more aligned with Russia, let's have a warthere is “massive internal displacement—latest U.N. estimates are of 700,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) with the figure rising by as much as 100,000 per week—[which] has left hundreds of thousands living in sometimes desperate and unhygienic conditions, creating a further health risk and the chance that infectious diseases, such as TB, will spread.”

But local and international organisations working with drug users say that addicts’ access to life-saving treatment in those areas has come under increasing pressure since the start of the conflict and that it could be cut off entirely within weeks as supplies of methadone and buprenorphine used in the treatment run out and cannot be replaced.

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance Ukraine which runs many OST centres as well as other harm reduction programmes, has said that stocks of antiretroviral drugs, OST and other life-saving treatments will have run out by February. More than 300 OST patients in Donetsk and Luhansk have lost access to treatment since the conflict began, while a further 550 patients on methadone will run out of drugs soon if emergency supplies cannot be delivered.

U.N. officials in close contact with international organisations helping drug users as well as doctors in Donetsk have confirmed to IPS that clinics have only a few weeks’ worth of stocks of methadone left.

One doctor in Donetsk working on an OST programme, who asked not to be named, told IPS: “There are serious problems with medicine supplies. The last shipments came in September last year and some patients have already had to finish their treatments. Many had been on it for a decade and in that time had forged donetsk hospitalnew lives, put their, sometimes criminal, past behind them and had families. It was absolutely tragic for them when they stopped.”

It is unclear what will happen to all those no longer able to access OST treatment. Doctors say some have gone into detoxification, while others have moved to other cities in safer areas of Ukraine in the hope of continuing OST.

But with 60 percent of those receiving OST also being HIV positive, according to the Donetsk doctor, and reports that many are now turning to illicit drugs and needle-sharing again as access to OST is cut off, there are concerns that the disease, along with Hepatitis C which is rife among injection drug users, and tuberculosis, could be spread, and that the lives of many drug users will again be at risk.

OST patient Andriy Klinemko, who was forced to flee Donetsk with his wife when their house was destroyed in bombing last summer and who is now in Dnipropetrovsk in central Ukraine, told IPS: “OST patients in East Ukraine are being forced to move, but not all of them can and even those that make it to other regions may not be able to continue OST because there is no money left to run such programmes. It’s a bad situation and at the moment I really can’t see any way it’s going to get better.”

Meanwhile, the self-appointed uberfuhrers of Donetsk and Luhansk, who ceaselessly vomit that they are all about “self-determination,” are busy exterminating the Roma.

“Even before the conflict, Roma in Ukraine had limited access to curative and preventive health service. As a result, Roma children have extremely low vaccination coverage. Moreover, rates of tuberculosis and other communicable and non-communicable diseases are higher among Roma than in the general population.”

However, the problems for Roma have dramatically worsened since the conflict began. Some human rights groups have said that since the separatist regimes took power in the region, Roma have eyes of the worldfaced systematic violent and sometimes fatal repression.

According to a report this month of an international mission to monitor human rights by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Roma living in separatist-controlled areas have been “subjected to open aggression from militants . . . [who] have carried out real ethnic cleansing” against them. Many have fled and become IDPs, subsequently facing health struggles.

Local rights groups say that Roma who have managed to flee to safe areas have often ended up homeless and starving after facing problems accessing aid because of a dismissive attitude from volunteers and staff at social institutions, while their lack of identification documents also prevented them from accessing any official help.

However, even those who have managed to find treatment have sometimes faced further problems.

Kondur told IPS: “In one case a Roma family moved from Kramatorsk to Kharkiv. A little boy had a heart problem brought on by the stress of the fighting and he was taken to hospital. One night, a group of young people broke the window of the boy’s hospital room, shouting ‘Gypsies get out’. The boy had a heart attack.”

So be happy. If you’ve “sided” with the separatists. Bathe in the blood of that dead Roma boy. Take his blood, from his dead heart, into your mouth.

Just as, if you’ve sided with “the government,” you can bathe in, imbibe, the blood of Others.

Death loves you. Every one. For you’ve made him come.

He feels good.

And you. How do you feel.

some people like to go out dancin’
then there’s other people, baby, they gotta work
—you better watch me now—

there’s some evil mothers
they’ll just tell you that life’s just made out of dirt
that pretty women baby they never really faint
and villains always blink their eyes
that children are the only ones who blush
and that life—LIFE—that life is just to die

but i want to tell you somethin’:

anyone who had a heart
they wouldn’t turn around and break it
and anyone who’s ever played a part
they wouldn’t turn around and hate it

they’d say: jane
sweet jane
oh: ukraine
sweet jane

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When I Worked

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