Human chain enlightens politicians, Germany

May 14, 2010

ENIL director Corina Zolle in front of the German Reichstag for the Human Chain protest

ENIL is proud to be associated with the European protest day for the equality of people with disabilities that was held in Berlin and in 400 other places in Germany on 05 May.

On 05 May, a human chain from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag called for the fast and thorough implementation of the United Nations Convention on the rights of people with disabilities. 

The motto for the protest was ‘Inclusion – being there from the start.’  Inclusion, as SPD (Social Democratic Party) General Secretary Andrea Nahles said at a rally in front of the Reichstag, begins with “inclusive education and community at school.”

ENIL director Corina Zolle saw the protest as an opportunity to raise awareness among politicians about the needs of Personal Assistance users: “the budgets for personal assistance have to be sufficient concerning the needs of an assistance user and must not be means tested.”

With the passing of a light in the chain of more than 500 people, the organizers wanted to connect symbolically the Brandenburg Gate with the German Bundestag to show politicians the way to inclusion. Georg Schnitzler, managing director of Lebenshilfe gGmbH in Berlin, stressed that the UN Convention does not only describe general rights, but also very concrete measures, geared towards the reality of disabled people’s lives.

“Although Germany has ratified the UN Convention, that does not mean that we can take it for granted that we get our rights,” said Dorte Gregorschewski of Women’s Web, mentioning the child abuse cases from the 1960s and 1970s. She criticized the fact that neither special interest groups of disabled women nor any other organization of disabled persons were invited to a roundtable with the Federal Government. “And this even though it is well-known that girls and women with disabilities experience violence more frequently than non-disabled. Circa 60% of women with disabilities living in institutions have already experienced sexual violence. This is a scandal. ”

Even if the UN Convention has been applied in German law for more than a year, the state and federal governments should finally act to make it a tangible reality, especially in education. When it comes to disabled and non-disabled students learning together, the Federal Republic is far behind other European countries.

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