London Conservatives co-responsible for disabled Grenfell disaster victim’s death

London Grenfell Tower fire

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Grenfell victim ‘denied human right to escape’

THE DAUGHTER of a Grenfell Tower victim launched a blistering attack on Kensington and Chelsea council today for housing a “vulnerable, physically disabled and partially sighted pensioner” on the 18th floor.

Nazanin Aghlani, daughter of Sakineh Afrasehabi, told the inquiry into the blaze, which killed 72 people last June, that the housing allocation team at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) shared responsibility for her mother’s death.

The 65-year-old Iranian grandmother, who moved to Britain in 1997, died with her sister Fatemeh, who was visiting on the night of the fire.

Ms Aghlani said: “As early as 2003, the RBKC housing department formally recognised and stated that, due to my mum’s disability and deteriorating health, she should not be housed in a lifted property above the fourth floor.

“I emphasise that was in 2003. Fourth floor, because that was her human right to escape, the right every single person should have.”

She said that, “after 16 years of waiting, she was rehoused in 2016 into flat 151 on the 18th floor of Grenfell Tower”, a move she said was “out of desperation and pressure from the council.”

Ms Aghlani added: “Every day, again and again, as our mind tries to make sense of this disastrous tragedy, we come to the conclusion that it was not only the horrifying fire that took my mum’s life that night.

“The discrimination and failure in duty of care by the housing allocations team which resulted in a vulnerable, physically disabled and partially sighted pensioner being housed on the 18th floor of a tower block equally took the life of my mum.

“Our mum lost her life not only due to the fire that night, but to the corporate negligence of the very people who were to ensure her safety. The very people who said, years before, that she was not to be housed above the fourth floor of a lifted building.”

Ms Afrasehabi’s son, Mohammed Samimi, asked the inquiry to remember his father, who he said was unable to come to Britain because his visa application was refused.

The inquiry will begin hearing formal evidence on Monday.

Protest against the privateer benefit assessor Maximus. THE TORIES have been stripping sufferers of multiple sclerosis of the vital funds they need to buy mobility scooters and vehicles if they can walk a single step over the course of 20 metres. Charity MS Society has called for the 20 metres rule to be scrapped: here.


Murder disabled people, United States Republican says

This video from the USA says about itself:

GOP Candidate: Euthanize Poor People!

16 May 2018

A gubernatorial candidate in Oklahoma is catching some heat for some comments made on his Facebook account recently. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, host of The Young Turks, break it down.

Republican gubernatorial candidate in Oklahoma proposed euthanasia for people on food stamps who are too disabled to work.

It looks like that idea is inspired by the practice of German old nazi Adolf Hitler, and of Japanese neonazi Satoshi Uematsu. And by the mockery of disabled people by the Republican president of the USA, Donald Trump.

In a Facebook post made by a page purporting to be for Oklahoma governor candidate Christopher Barnett, the administrator initially posted a poll about food stamp requirements — and then made comments claiming euthanasia is a solution to the “issue” of the poor and disabled.

In a post made by Tulsa resident Lisa Schwart, screenshots of the thread from the Chrisforgov campaign page that shares a name with Barnett’s campaign website revealed the comments. “Most receiving food stamps work, or are disabled”, a user commented on the poll post. “Some are elderly.” “The ones who are disabled and can’t work…why are we required to keep them?” the Chrisforgov account responded. “Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government [sic].” Defending his now-deleted comments, the account admin mused as to why American taxpayers should “have to keep up people who cannot contribute to society any longer?”

Read more here.

‘WOMP WOMP’ DROPPED Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was axed by his speakers bureau after mocking a 10-year-old with Down syndrome with a now-infamous “womp womp.” Of course, Lewandowski was not dropped by CNN, who had him back on the network Thursday so he could refuse to apologize. [HuffPost]

British disabled punk rocker Penny Pepper interviewed

This video from Britain says about itself:

Morning Stories | Penny Pepper On The Problem With ‘Sensible’ Shoes

24 August 2015

Penny Pepper, a disabled writer, talks about rebelling against the “what’s best” rhetoric when it comes to fashion.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

‘The world was a liar and I had too much to say to listen to its prejudice’

Thursday 23rd November 2017

Self-confessed saucepot PENNY PEPPER talks to Felicity Collier about the life experiences informing her recently published memoir

JUST before she starts her reading in a Camden Town pub from her memoirs First in the World Somewhere, Penny Pepper is abuzz with anecdotes from her punk youth, be they striking up a rapport with Morrissey or performing gigs in front of Diane Abbott.

A writer and disabled-rights activist, she instigated change in the 1980s by firing off a letter to music magazine Jamming! calling for equal access to gig venues.

The reaction she stirred led to her meeting her first love, forming a band, and recognition that, if punk is about “breaking down barriers,” that must include disability rights.

Her memoirs follow Penny’s childhood and adolescence in the Chilterns where she was keen to escape her lot with an abusive stepfather and a home life she describes as “a prison, hell.”

She savoured times when there was enough money for batteries to power her radio so she could listen to John Peel (“an absolute saviour”) and, when she first heard The Smiths, she immediately bought “everything they had breathed on.”

Feeling represented by Morrissey’s outsider lyrics, Penny wrote to him “endlessly” and was rewarded with a vinyl copy of Barbarism Begins at Home.

Another pivotal moment was watching Siouxsie Sioux and the Sex Pistols on TV setting the tone for a new youth movement.

Rejecting “the designated life of the cripple,” and the restrictive attitudes from health professionals, she was determined not to live a life ruled by Still’s disease, the arthritic condition which affects her joints and requires her to use a wheelchair

Her dream of living an independent life in London was granted when Ken Livingstone, then Greater London Council leader, acted on a letter she wrote. “Letter writing was my escape, my way of fighting back in the world,” she tells me. “The power of my words took me somewhere.”

Cue letters to the Greenham Common women, membership of CND and Rock against Racism, all provoked by “hating Thatcher and everything she stood for.”

She moved in with her partner-in-crime Tamsin — also disabled — and the pair studied, partied and made music together.

“We didn’t think we shouldn’t do what other people do in their twenties,” she says, recalling how at that time disabled people lived with their parents or in a care home. She was intent on avoiding “incarceration” and the sense that her destiny was set in stone was vehemently rejected when she decided to write.

But it took a long time for her to realise that she had “as much right as anyone else” to tell her story. As with writing, so it was with having a sexual identity as a disabled person. She published a pamphlet on the subject and wrote erotic fiction and her candid and vivid memoirs are excellent testament to her tackling ignorance and discrimination.

As a musician, record company executives “leered” over her breasts, she recalls, but took umbrage at her wheelchair. It was an awakening — being made to feel like she could not belong or be sexy because she used a wheelchair and had arthritis. “I decided the world was a liar and I had far too much to say to listen to its prejudice.”

Outrageously funny and brilliantly defiant, Penny is now in her fifties and she has an enduring identification with anarchism, defining it as mutual aid that involves people who are “programmed to help each other to survive rather than the survival of the fittest that capitalism thrives on.”

Yet she’s been a socialist all her life and has a lot of hope for Jeremy Corbyn. Penny encountered Corbyn in the summer while fundraising and he has supported her disability campaign group Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

“He’s definitely captured the imagination of people — he’s made politics fresh. You can’t undo the passion he’s stirred. For the many, not the few!” she chortles.

Penny and her partner were among the first to have a home help in their own flat. She refused to be placed in a care home in an impersonal system, instead demanding independence in her youth.

But there was a battle to have disabled access fitted to the front door when she was forced to move house and the couple encountered fierce opposition from neighbours.

These days, she works with DPAC in its campaigns against the government’s dismantling of social care, including the fight to preserve the Independent Living Fund that enables disabled people to live independently in their own homes, with visiting personal assistants.

But she is not, she says, “vulnerable” and it’s a word she hates. “It’s really abused. I’m no more vulnerable than anyone else, unless my social care is threatened.”

Of government cuts, she says: “We’re talking about basic equalities — being able to sleep and not in your own pee.” It’s a shocking testament to today’s government because, as she points out, Thatcher ignored disabled people, “but she gave us benefits.”

First in the World Somewhere is available from Unbound, Penny is appearing in Brighton tonight at New Writing South, 9 Jew Street. British Sign Language-interpreted.

Under the Tories, attempted suicides by disability benefit claimants have doubled – why won’t Theresa May scrap the work capability assessment? Here.

British disabled people fight for their rights

This video from London, England is called Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) lobbying parliament on Wednesday 19 July 2017.

By Felicity Collier & Tom Lansdell in London, England:

Disability Activists Storm Parliament

Thursday 20th July 2017

Commons cops try to block disabled people’s rally in Parliament against heartless Tories’ killer cuts

DISABLED people faced off with armed police at Parliament yesterday as they were told their T-shirts exposing the savage nature of Tory cuts were off-limits.

The campaigners were there to lobby MPs over the horrendous toll the Conservatives’ austerity and blitz on essential benefits had had on disabled people.

But as half a dozen coppers walled off the entrance they were told to take off their tops or cover them up.

The rally was part of a week of action organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to flag up the brutal nature of the attacks.

Activist Paula Peters condemned the police action as discrimination and said it had set off some people’s mental health conditions.

Some of the banned T-shirts simply carried the DPAC linked-arms logo.

One man, who asked to be referred to just as Kevin, was barred from meeting his MP because his top read: “This is what a person with an invisible disability looks like.”

“We are not a threat! We are disabled people!” he stormed at the coppers’ injustice.

Others could be heard saying: “We are human beings, just like you,” while Ms Peters pointed out that no political symbol was used on their shirt.

One activist blasted: “Do you want me to go into Parliament topless?”

Another person, Keith, said he’d worn his DPAC shirt twice before in Parliament and it hadn’t caused any stir — raising questions about whether embarrassed Tories had tried to head off the campaigners using dirty tricks.

It took the direct intervention of John McDonnell, a staunch ally of disabled people in their fight for justice, to get the police to lift their blockade.

Showing their resolve, wheelchair-using protesters lined up in front of the MPs’ entrance to the Commons chamber, forcing them to face up to their decisions on Bills that have stripped essential support and benefits from some of Britain’s most vulnerable.

Mr McDonnell applauded DPAC, who “have been consistently campaigning to expose what’s going on and they want to bring their voice to Parliament.”

Ellen Clifford of DPAC’s steering group said campaigners want Prime Minister Theresa May’s promised social care consultation — scheduled for later in the year — to address the scrapping of the independent living fund (ILF), cuts to personal independence payments (PIP) and notoriously unfair benefit assessments.

The ILF was set up in 1988 to ensure vital support at home for severely disabled people, including carers and personal assistants. But the Tories shut the door on new applicants in 2015 and those already registered have been put under review.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stopped to tell the Star: “The cuts to ILF and social care are obviously disastrous and serious within our society.

“We called the Tories out on this and will continue to do so.”

In the Commons lobby, Ms Peters led calls of: “No more deaths from benefit cuts. Give us a right to live.”

Choruses of “Theresa May resign” and “Shame on you” rung out among protesters, before they approached the Commons only to be blocked by a police line.

“Come on Theresa May, come out and face us,” Ms Peters demanded, before branding former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith a “murderer” because of the number of people who have died after having benefits cut.

“We will hunt you down and put you in the dock. You’ve got blood on your hands,” she said.

DEVASTATING disability cuts have left disabled people with “rushed and inhumane” care with one council even telling people to “wear nappies” as overnight support wasn’t available: here.