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Solidarity with People with Disabilities Statement

As part of Arika’s beliefs and in conjunction with both our public and Local Organising programmes, we want to extend solidarity to People with Disabilities via the following statement. Those most directly affected by a specific oppression are those best placed to develop methods to overcome it. The Disabled People’s Movement in the UK and globally has suggested a variety of approaches to bring about an end to prejudice and violence against them. To further these approaches, we first advocate for:

  • Recognition that the social categories of people with disabilities are both complex and evolving ones and yet simultaneously anchored in very specific historical struggles and identities
  • Recognition that some disabilities are visible and others are invisible
  • Recognition that other social categories of people are in a variety of complex interrelationships with Disabled identities
  • Recognition that people with disabilities are subject to higher rates of physical violence than able bodied people
  • Recognition that people with disabilities are subject to higher rates of sexual violence than able bodied people
  • Recognition that people with disabilities are subject to a greater amount of physical violence and control from state agencies than able bodied people
  • Recognition that people with disabilities are systemically disenfranchised from societal power
  • Recognition that intimate relationships and shared sexuality between people with disabilities are societally devalued
  • Recognition that people with disabilities are – as an overall social grouping – comparatively economically devalued and impoverished
  • Recognition that people with disabilities are consistently depicted in ableist and demeaning ways via mediums of public communication (e.g. film, advertising, visual art etc.)
  • Recognition that public healthcare frequently does not take the range of specific needs of people with disabilities into account or respect their bodily autonomy
  • Recognition that ableism does not necessarily prevent people with disabilities from having agency or abusing power over others and that whilst the greatest suffering is experienced by those who are directly oppressed, the oppressor too is damaged
  • Recognition that ableism places untenable and contradictory demands upon people with disabilities which contributes to a culture of internalised oppression and self-harm
  • Recognition that the direct and lateral communication by people with disabilities on the above areas of concern and many other matters is consistently invisibilised and actively eradicated from public view
  • Recognition that a vast expanse of culture, wisdom, art, joy, science and liberating insight has been generated by people with disabilities
  • Recognition that these achievements are sometimes subject to cultural appropriation and commercial exploitation by more dominant social groups

We recognise that the following reforms would reduce suffering and save lives:

  • Enforcement and/or development of legislation that aims to prevent discrimination, hate speech and physical attacks against people with disabilities
  • A process of affirmative action to ensure an equitable involvement of people with disabilities in societal decision making and cultural processes and educational and employment opportunities
  • Affirmative action that involves the support of autonomous organisations/projects/culture/other provisions by and for people with disabilities (and by default an end to the curtailment of people with disabilities’ culture as exemplified by the 1880 Milan Conference ban on deaf sign language)
  • Active solidarity from other all other social groups for people with disabilities
  • A re-organisation of our built environments to accommodate the needs of people with limited mobility
  • A societal wide commitment to integrating access needs into every area of public life
  • Provision of a universal basic income
  • Recognition of and appropriate support for the specific needs of people with disabilities and/or ill health (failure to do so, as with recent austerity policies in the UK are a form of genocide against people with disabilities)
  • Provision of suitable, safe, healthy accommodation on a universal basis
  • An end to workplace expectations that entail working anti-social and/or long hours
  • Access to free universal healthcare of a high standard with an inbuilt commitment to the support of people with disabilities’ bodily autonomy
  • Such healthcare provision would include access to desired surgeries, medications and freedom from non-consensual surgeries and medications
  • A societal wide commitment to reproductive justice (inclusive of the needs of people with disabilities that includes an end to eugenic practices, non-consensual surgeries and experimentation)

The above listed reforms are both critical and yet inherently limited in nature. We are clear that for full liberation of people with disabilities to come about change on a profound, revolutionary, level is necessary. For such changes to occur would entail the end of capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy. This would involve collective re-organisation of society on a mass level and equitable redistribution of resources and decision-making powers.

The process of struggling for these changes – both long term and immediate – is complex and takes place in challenging circumstances. We recognise that people with disabilities are best placed to develop effective strategies and guiding visions around the eradication of their oppression. Our intent is always to be especially mindful of the approaches and ideas recommended by people with disabilities. However, the process of ending multiple forms of oppression against people with disabilities and creating a society based on principals of respect for people of all types of physicality is inherently a matter of collective responsibility, to which we can all directly contribute.

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