AUTHORITIES SENT THE DISABLED TO FIGHT FOR RIGHTS IN MINSK OUTSKIRTS
On 12 May the disabled on wheelchairs organized street actions in several Belarusian cities. The aim of the actions was to draw attention and defend the rights of people with limited possibilities. The organizers planned to have an action in the center of Minsk, but the city officials prohibited to do it on Yakub kolas Square and sent them to Bangalore Square, located in the outskirts. About 10 people on wheelchairs refused to go to the Square and lined up along the road, holding posters: “President, when our laws will start working?”, “Disabled people do exist in this country”, “We are people too and we want to live”.
Siarhei Drazdowski, head of Association of People on Wheelchairs, told RFE/RL, they really wanted to gather on Yakub Kolas Square: it’s a lot easier to get there, and they could have a chance to draw attention of a lot more people.
Minsk administration explained their decision was based on equality of all citizens. Since the administration passed the Ruling in 1999, which determined Bangalore Square as the place of mass actions, all actions are to be organized there. According to Alexander Pukhaw, head of information department of Minsk city executive committee, “obviously, they are specific people, but the law must be the same to everyone”.
At present the state bodies have no information either about the number of people on wheelchairs, or about their employment situation. The Association of People on Wheelchairs has 700 members. Specialists state that there are about 812 thousand people, not able to walk, in Belarus. Siarhei Drazdowski says now people on wheelchairs rely only on themselves, because most of nongovernmental organizations are on the edge of survival. He thinks it’s a special policy of the authorities to separate the public forces aimed at decreasing the level of their activity.