Dozens of members of nine human rights groups yesterday observed International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a protest in front of the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Taipei, saying that the ministry’s policy on people with disabilities fails to address obstacles they meet every day.
The protesters — about half of whom sat in wheelchairs, some of which had signs affixed to them — chanted slogans such as “I want accessible clinics,” “remove road barriers, give back the space I need to move in” and “an incomplete system leads to no autonomy” outside of the ministry’s complex in the morning.
While the legislature in 2014 passed the Act to Implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (身心障礙者權利公約施行法), which requires the government to protect the rights of people with disabilities as outlined in the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the ministry seems to use the international observance to promote its benevolence, rather than substantially improve the lives of such people, Taiwan Gender Queer Rights Advocacy Alliance secretary-general Nelson Hu (胡勝翔) said.
The ministry used the slogan “respect differences and participate together” for the day, but people with disabilities still face a number of obstacles in different aspects of their daily lives, he said.
“We do not need people describing us as ‘angels,’ or telling us: ‘You are great and full of courage.’ We do not need fake friendliness,” Access for All Association secretary-general Hsu Chao-fu (許朝富) said. “We are not asking for ‘extra’ rights, we are only asking for protection of our human rights.”
Many people with disabilities wanted to join the protest, but could not even leave their homes or take public transportation on their own, as most accessible transportation is only available in big cities, Hsu said.
Independent Living Association Taipei secretary-general Lin Chun-chieh (林君潔), who uses a wheelchair, said road obstacles make it difficult for her to even move from one place to another in front of the ministry’s complex, adding that people with disabilities cannot have real autonomy without the enforcement of policies and a system to protect their rights.
Lin asked the protesters to throw disposable adult diapers over the complex’s gate to demonstrate their anger.
The demonstrators demanded that the ministry enforce the convention, establish a national agency to protect their rights and allow people with disabilities to participate in the making of policies related to them.
The groups said they would protest again if the ministry does not give them an acceptable reply within one month.
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