Our Open Letter regarding the protest currently underway by persons with disabilities in the Polish Parliament

23 May 2018

To: Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

Frans Timmermans, First-Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of Fundamental Rights

Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Paolo Alli, President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe

Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime-Minister of Poland

Andrzej Duda, President of Poland

Stanisław Karczewski, Marshal of the Senate

Marek Kuchciński, Marshal of the Sejm

Adam Bodnar, Polish Ombudsman

Ms. Theresia Degener, Chairperson UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

It is with deep worry and concern that we witness reports of mistreatment of the persons with disabilities that are protesting in the Polish Parliament since 18th April 2018.

The conditions that are being forced upon the protesters are scandalaous. They are in direct breach of their human rights and basic dignity! Such conditions include not allowing their carers to be with them, being suspended to go outside of the Parliament (including enclosing the area with a steel fence), and the police forbidding meeting with the public and high-profile figures such as Janina Ochojska, head of the Polish Humanitarian Action. The protestors cannot meet with their physiotherapists and they have one designated toilet which they can approach only with a designated path. Some of them have not left the Parliament for 40 days. They sleep on mattress in marble floors, with lights on for 24 hours.

These conditions are inexcusable and they cannot continue for even a minute more. The treatment that they are being subject to is a clear affront to basic human rights and to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Poland signed and ratified. The Polish Parliament is not respecting basic human rights and the dignity of Persons with Disabilities.

On the 25th May, 400 delegates of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly will be in the Polish Parliament. During this event, the Polish Government said that the area will be closed off.

  • We call on the Polish Government and Parliament to immediately end this inhumane treatment,and to immediately remove all demeaning conditions immediately.

  • The protesters demand for an extra 117 euros per month to cover the extra costs they incur due to their disability. We call on the Polish Government to engage in respectful dialogue with the protesters in order to meet their needs for a decent standard of living!

The conditions they have been subjected to are incompatible with reasonable minimums that States should guarantee to citizens. The protesters have shown extreme strength and resilience in withstanding these inhumane conditions. The European Disability Forum strongly supports the protesters and persons with disabilities in Poland.

The European Disability Movement stands with the protestors.

Yours sincerely, Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum

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