Siarhei Drazdouski: One Can Speak of Real Discrimination of the Handicapped in Belarus
3 December is a World Day of Handicapped. It was established in 1992 by the UN General Assembly.
According to the official statistics, in Belarus about 50 000 people become handicapped a year. About 4 000 of them are children. All in all, there are 500 000 handicapped in the country, 30 000 of them are younger than 18. Representatives of the organizations that defend the rights of handicapped state that in reality about 10% of the country’s population are handicapped.
What are the life perspectives for them? According to the handicapped, they sometimes have to spend even more than healthy people on wheelchairs, medicines, medical appliances, napkins and nurses. All it is very expensive. Meanwhile, the pension they receive is most often enough only to pay for public utilities and telephone.
Many of them could have earned their living independently. However, the number of places where wheelchair invalids could work is minimal. Besides, the non-barrier space (the creation of which is often discussed in the interested state organs) is very limited.
In his interview to RFE/RL Siarhei Drazdouski, the chair of the Central soviet of the association of wheelchair handicapped, said: ‘In fact, the reality reminds of Potyomkin’s village: the faзade is beautiful, but behind it there hide the horrors of remote places. It concerns Minsk as well. There are many proofs. We have even conducted a social research and tried to publish the results in the state mass media, but their editors refused to do it. Our experience witnesses that few people care about it.’
Mr Drazdouski says that people have to sit in their flats for years because elevators aren’t wide enough to get there on a wheelchair. ‘The reality is very complicated. We have lots of concrete facts to disprove the statements that something is being built or will be built. People can’t get out of their houses for years! They are simply isolated there. We have already collected a vast bulk of documents which confirm the deterioration of the situation. An eloquent analytical material could be composed, but the state mass media aren’t interested in such information and there are so few non-state one that it is hard to find an interested one,’ Stated Siarhei Drazdouski.
It is even hard to get a wheelchair and the majority receives them only thanks to the humanitarian aid that is given by Western charitable organizations.
Siarhei Drazdouski openly speaks of discrimination of invalids in Belarus. It can’t be called any other way if in 90% of cases handicapped people can’t leave their houses, can’t visit the majority of shops and WCs, can’t rival at the job market and their opinions aren’t considered important by the state organs.