Disabled activists today stood outside 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament to remember the disabled victims of the Nazi Holocaust on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The protest-vigil also stood to highlight current injustices such as the approximate 1,300 people who died with 6 weeks of their work capability assessment.
‘Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) (2), ‘Black Triangle Campaign’ (3) and Never Again Ever!’ (4) held a banner with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei – “work sets you free” 1,300 people died within 6 weeks of going through work capability assessment. The Nazis believed that human beings only have value if they can work and bring economic benefit for the ‘community’. Those who were too sick, weak or disabled to work were murdered immediately, and fit members of persecuted groups such as Jews, Roma, Communists, and LGBTQI people, were deliberately worked to death. As Yehuda Bauer said, “I come from a people who gave the world Ten Commandments. After the Holocaust I believe there should be three more: Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator and thou shalt never, never, be a bystander.”
Dan Glass from ‘Never Again Ever!’ whose four grandparents were Holocaust survivors from Poland and Germany said – “In the spirit of Kiddush Hashem – that’s what our protest is about today.’ By opposing the ‘othering’, scapegoating and marginalisation of disabled people who are being oppressed and persecuted in the name of neoliberal cuts and austerity in today’s Britain we believe that we are honouring the memories of all who perished. We stand in solidarity and together we say loud and clear to this generation “Never Again Ever!”
Andy Greene on the steering group for ‘Disabled People Against the Cuts’ said – “This quiet and respectful protest-vigil joined descendants of the Nazi Holocaust with our community to remember all those have died in genocides around the world and as the result of so-called ethnic cleansing; and organise for human rights for everyone today. We demand a legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination (7). The vigil is to highlight the ideologies and policies that create the preconditions for genocide: discrimination and othering of minorities, the devaluing of human lives, the belief that the needs of the individual should be subjugated to the priorities of the state.”
Ruth Barnett, Holocaust survivor and activist with ‘Never Again Ever!’ said – “As a former Kindertransport child rescued by Britain from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis, I stand up for and speak out for all peoples who have suffered persecution that has not been brought to justice. It grieves me that there is so much focus on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the Holocaust while the centenary of the Ottoman Genocide also this year is being overlooked. There is evidence to suggest that the Holocaust might have been prevented if impunity for it had not been created by failure to bring that previous genocide to justice and closure.”
Dan Glass said “So many groups were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi’s. It is essential that we remember them all. Nobody owns the discussion around the Holocaust – but we all own the responsibility to take action today to highlight discrimination and persecution wherever it happens. My grandparents experience instilled in me that grave injustice exists in the world. Therefore its my duty to them and others to facilitate discussion and action in making sure we challenge oppression everywhere we see it. We believe that ‘Memorialisation without action is part of the problem’.”
John McArdle from Black Triangle said – “Without a hint of irony Ian Duncan Smith has used the words ‘Work Sets you free’ to justify his so-called welfare reforms.” (8)
(1) Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability assessments – Letter – http://
(2) DPAC is a campaign network of and for disabled people, campaigning for the rights and equality of all disabled people as defined under the UNCRPD. www.dpac.uk.net
(3) Black Triangle established to galvanise opposition to the current vicious attack on the fundamental human rights of disabled people by Government using “Work Capability Assessments” to re-classify sick and disabled individuals as “fit forwork” www.
(4) ‘Never Again Ever!’ is a campaign led by grandchildren of those affected by the Holocaust and their allies, to reflect on how we can stop genocide from happening to anyone ever again – in 2015 – the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. www.neveragaineverever.
(5) ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ explanation – http://goeurope.about.com/
(6) Weblink to the 1300 deaths claim – http://www.theguardian.com/
(7) UK Disabled People’s Manifesto – Reclaiming Our Futures – http://www.inclusionlondon.
(8) Does getting tough on the unemployed work? – http://www.theguardian.com/