Open letter regarding the protest underway by persons with disabilities in the Polish Parliament during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

24 May 2018

Dear President Paolo Alli,

Dear NATO Parliamentary Assembly Members,

Unfortunately, during your stay in the visit in the Polish Parliament tomorrow, the government will fence off an area where around 10 persons with disabilities and their families are protesting. It is not fenced of for your protection, but to prevent you from witnessing the sub-human conditions that the Polish authorities are subjecting the protesters and our community to.

Details of the Polish Parliament mistreatment include:

  • Not allowing carers to be with the protestors;
  • Protestors sleep on mattresses arranged on the marble floor of one of the corridors, with the lights on;
  • Meals are consumed at the place where they sleep;
  • Protestors cannot open windows;
  • Protestors are suspended from going outside of the Parliament (including enclosing the area with a steel fence);
  • The Polish Parliament is restricting access to external people: they are only allowed to enter with express special permit issued personally by the head of the Polish Sejm administration.
  • Due to the above, protestors have to rely on parliamentarians sympathetic to their cause for laundry and meals;
  • Also, the protestors are not able to meet with their physiotherapists;
  • They have only one designated toilet which they can approach only with a designated path;

The police forbade meeting with the public and high-profile figures such as Janina Ochojska, head of Polish Humanitarian Action.

These facts were corroborated by several highly-regarded officials, such as Member of the European Parliament Marek Plura.

The European Disability Forum denounces this treatment as inhumane and demands the immediate improvement of conditions and re-establishment of dialogue between the authorities and protestors. The European disability movement stands with the protesters.

However, with this letter, we want to ask you for a very simple thing. We ask for you to make proof of your humanity and compassion and meet with these protesters and hear their stories. Their demands are very simple and they, and our entire community, are being humiliated by the Polish authorities.

Make a stand for basic humanity and dignity - meet them and hear their stories.

Kind Regards, Yannis Vardakastanis President European Disability Forum

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