On 4th November, after the call of the National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), around 10 000 disabled people and their supporters gathered in the center of Athens, Greece, to protest about the impact of the crisis on disabled persons’ lives in Greece. In this huge nation-wide rally, people came from all parts of the country, many disability organizations were represented. There were also representatives from other organizations that were supporting the cause and some members of the parliament and other political figures. Altogether, they raised their voices, spreading their message throughout Greece and abroad. After the speech of the NCPD and EDF President Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis, they all marched to the Greek Parliament where NCPD representatives met with the Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations, Mr. Alekos Flambouraris. They delivered the demands of the disability movement and a decision was taken a meeting with the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to be held on 3rd December – the International Day of Disabled People.
Below you can read part of Mr. Vardakastanis’s speech:
“We are all here, from all parts of Greece. Today, here in the center of Athens, the heart of the disability movement is beating. Today, here in the center of Athens, we are sending a message to the government, to the political world, to society, to social operators, even to the Church: the crisis won’t swallow us! We are determined, we are united. On behalf of the NCPD – a big thank you for being here today! Why are we here today? Because we want, as I said, to send a clear message: we strive for education, for health, for precaution, for independent living, for the protection of incomes. Friends and co-fighters, today our demand is one, simple and catalytic: we want to speak with the Prime Minister of the country. We want to explain to him and to present him our plan for the protection of disabled people, with chronic diseases and their families. And our plan has two basic major pillars: from one side, there isn’t coordination of the politicians. We request an establishment of a general secretariat (under the Prime Minister) for the coordination of the politicians in the disability area. We request an establishment of a national program for public policies for disabilities. We are among the few countries in the world which lack a national program for public policies. And above all, we require taking daily measures for the protection of disabled people, those with chronic diseases and their families from the crisis. Pensions, allowances, education, healthcare are all in imminent danger. We must think about disabled people living in institutions, forgotten by God and humans. We must think about disabled people who are house-bounded and about their families which are struggling and fighting. That’s why we are here. And we want the government and the political world to take concrete measures. We ask the Prime Minister, the government and the whole political world to put high on their agenda the protection of disabled people, of those with chronic diseases and their families. From the center of Athens we are also sending a message to the European institutions – economic cuts must not clash with the rights of disabled people. We will not leave today the center of Athens until we meet the Prime Minister or a minister he sends to speak with us. We don’t care about photos with anyone. We only care about the solutions. The 3rd December is coming soon and we’ll be again on the streets, everyone in this city. If we are not in a constant mobilization, we are in the danger of disappearing due to the crisis. Friends, the 4th November will remain in the disability movement history as a day of uprising, as the day on which we are sending a message to the country, to Europe, to the whole world. Message of dignity, message for equality, for social protection, for justice.”
Photo: Snapshot of the protest