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Don’t let the government paint itself as a champion of disabled rights – it’s anything but

Disabled People Against Cuts — one of the founder members of Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance — is organising to highlight the utter and total hypocricy of ex-Tory minister for disabled people and now International Development Minister Penny Mordaunt hosting a global disability summit in London this week.

This summit is co-hosted by the British government and Kenya. 

DPAC is strongly in favour of international support that improves the lives of deaf and disabled people across the world and welcomes co-operation between states that lead to stronger human rights laws and protections. 

We also particularly support the building of international solidarity and links directly between deaf and disabled people, our organisations and campaigns, but we cannot stand back and allow a British government that has spent the last eight years destroying the lives of disabled people to parade itself in front of other world countries as a leader in disability rights.

As co-host of this event, the British government has been found responsible for grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights due to welfare reforms and it continues to dismiss the findings and expertise of the UN disability committee. 

Its involvement undermines any aims of the summit linked to strengthening deaf and disabled people’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and provides a platform for the government to showcase to other states how it is possible to get away with ignoring those rights when it comes to their own citizens.  

The British government has used international work to cynically deflect from criticisms of its disability record in Britain. 

On a number of occasions when government ministers have been criticised for implementing policies with an adverse impact on deaf and disabled people, it has cited the poorer conditions of disabled people in other countries. 

This represents a misunderstanding of the UN CRPD, which is about the progressive realisation of rights. 

The UN disability committee has such concern about the situation in Britain because it represents a serious and dramatic retrogression of rights, described by the chair as a “human catastrophe.” 

In deflecting attention from its record in Britain, the government clearly intends to more easily continue its punitive policies targeted at disabled people and the poorest members of society. 

There is now overwhelming evidence — evidence which the UN disability committee considered — that proves the brutal impacts of these policies. 

It would be a betrayal to all those suffering under them not to raise concerns about attempts to divert attention away from the harm caused by these policies.

The Department for International Development (DfID) is commissioning a £27 million Disability Inclusive Development programme which has excluded deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) from its design and delivery. 

British DDPOs have been excluded from disability and development co-operation since our government signed and ratified the UN CRPD. 

DfID instead favours working with charities for disabled people and international non-government organisations which have all failed to mainstream disability in their own organisations or co-operate with British DDPOs in their work.

We call on deaf and disabled people and our allies to:

  • Challenge these disabledist policies and practices that disproportionately and negatively affect deaf and disabled people and that dehumanise and erase our different human identities
  • Stand in solidarity with deaf and disabled people in Britain who are on the receiving end of the grave and systematic violations of our rights and promote stronger rights and protections for deaf and disabled people globally
  • Celebrate and build international links of solidarity between our struggles — we are demanding British DDPOs and DDPOs from the South receive support from DfID to collaborate to create disability equality, justice and human rights globally. 

DPAC is planning an International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit — for deaf and disabled people and our allies to explore issues relating to our struggles against oppression and co-ordinating our resistance. International DDPO representatives in London for the government-hosted summit are invited to join us at this event. For more information see: mstar.link/DPACsummit. For more information about how to support DPAC, including via online and social media activities, visit www.dpac.uk.net.

 

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