Posts Tagged ‘Commons Work and Pensions Committee’

Guardian Documentary on Disability Rights Caravan in Bolivia

May 6, 2017

This video by the Guardian was recommended by one of the many great commenters on this blog. It’s a 30-minute long film about a caravan of disabled people and their carers in Bolivia. The protesters were marching to claim the £70 a month pension disabled people have been promised by Evo Morales government. The blurb for the video runs

People with disabilities are among the most discriminated against in Bolivia. Fed up with being ignored, a group of them march across the Andes to the seat of the government in La Paz, asking to speak to President Evo Morales. They are met with riot police, barricades, teargas and water cannon

Headed by determined leaders, including Rose Mery, Marcelo, Feliza and Miguel, the protesters camp on the streets a block away from the main plaza near the government palace. For the first time in Bolivia’s history, police erect 3m-high barricades, station tanks and hundreds of riot officers to stop the protesters in wheelchairs from entering the plaza.

Violent confrontations flare up between police and the protesters, with officers using pepper spray and water cannon. The government refuses to discuss their request for a pension of $70 a month and the protesters suspend themselves from the city’s bridges in their wheelchairs.

After following the protesters on the march, film-makers Violeta Ayala, Dan Fallshaw and Fernando Barbosa gain intimate access to their camp, including up-close scenes of regular violent reactions from the police. The film-makers and other journalists are also threatened. For three months the activists with disabilities attempt to speak to the president but face criticism from the state’s official news outlets.

As public pressure grows, can Rose Mery and her fellow protesters win their fight?

There’s also links to a piece, which followed up what happened afterwards, and to where people can share their experiences of being a disability campaigner.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2017/may/05/fighting-for-a-pension-disability-rights-protesters-in-bolivia-face-barricades

This is a deeply moving video. Many of the protesters are in wheelchairs. It states that they spent 30 days in Cochabamba protesting, then 35 days on the road to tackle the government in La Paz. Their sojourn in the country’s capital lasted at least another ten days.

They wanted to entire Murillo Plaza, but find when they get there that the way is blocked by riot police in full body armour, with shields and tear gas. In subsequent confrontations, the rozzers use water cannon on them. The protesters try several times to break through the security cordon. When this fails, they settled down in tents and shelters. At one stage they are so desperate that a woman in a wheelchair, Rose Mery, has herself hoisted into the air from a bridge.

A government spokesman appears on television to denounce them, claiming that they are trying to destabilise the government. One of the men protesting states very clearly that they aren’t politicians. If they were, he says, they’d be better politicians than those in power.

Eventually they managed to get a meeting with the employment minister, who flatly refuses to discuss the pension. The protesters are naturally disgusted. As a reaction to this, they cover themselves with rubbish, chanting that ‘Evo! Evo! Evo treats us as rubbish!’ Later, they strip down to their underpants. Then one night a car smashes through a group of 12 of the protesters, injuring eight and killing two. One of the victims is an eight-year old girl, whose mother is killed and the child herself put into a coma.

Two of the leaders, Marcelo and Feliz, are forced to leave the camp in fear of their lives. Another man, Miguel, is hospitalised with urinary problems.

The protesters are deeply cynical about the lies spread by the government. They are not impressed with the claim that they have access to free healthcare. One of the speakers also chillingly describes how his sister tried to find a doctor to ‘put him out of his misery’. It’s the kind of forced euthanasia that was adopted as state policy in Nazi Germany.

The group includes people of both European and indigenous heritage. Bolivia is a Roman Catholic country, and one of the protesters carries a cross.

Although conditions are clearly much harsher in Bolivia as a developing nation, many disabled people and their carers and friends will recognise similar attitudes. Our government is similarly killing disabled people through denying them the benefits they are owed through the very stringent and fraudulent attitude of the assessors and others setting the Work Capability Tests. Under these, seriously ill people, including those in comas, have been unfairly and ludicrously judged ‘fit for work’. Mike also described in his blog how one disabled person, an amputee, was asked by the DWP when she expected her limbs to grow back. This attitude also extends to people, whose health problems don’t show, like those suffering depression and anxiety. Their condition has been made much worse by the stress of these tests. And just as outrageously, people with depression, who have confessed to thoughts of suicide, have been asked why they haven’t done it.

The Bolivian protesters state they feel powerless against a government that has the media and police on its side.

The feeling is shared by many disabled people and their carers in Britain. The Beeb and the other TV stations have frequently not covered demos here against austerity. And thanks to the government’s campaign of lies, stigmatising all disabled people as fraudsters, hate crime against the disabled has risen by a monstrous 413 per cent.

And just as the Bolivian politicos hide themselves away from protesters, so have the idiots and tyrants running the DWP. Remember Ian Duncan Smith? He repeatedly refused to give evidence before the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee investigating benefit deaths. When he finally did attend, he turned up surrounded with armed police. Just in case he was going to be attacked by all the disabled people on the public balcony.

Other examples of aIDS’ military-style courage, sorry, craven cowardice includes him leaving Tory meetings early so he won’t have to meet any protesters, and hiding in hotel laundry bins.

Bolivia is a poor country, but I don’t think it will be long before the working people of this country are forced into a similar level of poverty. The Tory authors of the book, Britannia Unchained, argued that British working people should also put up with lower wages, poorer working conditions, longer hours and greater job insecurity, in order to compete with the peoples of the Developing World. Who are similarly being made poorer and more desperate by their politicos, following the same neoliberal tosh. Meanwhile, the capitalist class – the financiers and proprietors – get richer.

All over the world working people, the poor and the disabled, are being attacked, demonised and maltreated by their government. We need to stand in solidarity with them, wherever they are, for a better world for all of us.

Vox Political on the Strange Disappearance of aIDS Whinging Letter about ‘Outrageous Claims’

February 15, 2016

Mike put up this story earlier today about the letter Ian Duncan Smith had written, whining about the ‘outrageous claims’ Mike and other bloggers had made about his reforms causing the deaths of the poor and disabled. It seemed for a moment it had mysteriously disappeared. In fact, this seems to have been something of a false alarm. One of Mike’s commenters, however, states that it had vanished, only to reappear on the Commons Work and Pensions website.

Iain Duncan Smith’s latest attempt to justify benefit-related deaths has disappeared from the government’s website

I’ve blogged several times about the way the Spurious Major gallops away at high speed, whenever it looks like he might have meet his opponents. The minister for chequebook genocide simply can’t stop himself. He’s hidden in laundry baskets, run out of the rear entrance in Job Centres, and spoken at early hours of the morning at Tory-run job fairs in order to avoid the angry Great Unwashed. And when he was forced to face the disabled and their carers in the public gallery in parliament at a meeting of the Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee, this mighty general in the tradition of Wellington, Mark Anthony, Julius Caesar and Henry IV, surrounded himself with armed goons.

Now it seems even cyberspace is not safe from his cowardice. He’s starting to run away from people there. Of course, the Tories have form for this kind of thing. Some of us can still remember how a paragraph in one of the papers, written by a leading Tory, which lauded the motto on the gates of Auschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei, ‘Work Makes You Free’, mysteriously disappeared after someone realised that it made them look like what they are: Nazis. Just that they don’t have the stormtroopers and the jackboots just yet, although no doubt aIDS is working on the forced labour camps. They’ve certainly set up their own system of secret courts, under which you may not even be told under what law you’re charged if this is deemed to be against ‘national security’. We are heading to the old Nazi strategy of Nacht und Nebel – ‘night and fog’, the mysterious disappearance of dissidents.

And like the Spurious Major, Himmler was also not nearly half as tough as he made himself out to be. When he attended an execution by firing squad, he had to be carried away, hysterical. IDS also shows that he wants to run away as from shame and personal danger as possible, even when its Virtual.

Vox Political Admits Making Outrageous (and Entirely True) Claims about Ian Duncan Smith

February 11, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has written a long piece openly admitting that he has made ‘outrageous’ claims about aIDS, and challenged the ‘Gentleman Ranker’ to prove that they’re untrue. The Tory MP currently in charge of killing the poor, the unemployed and the disabled is angry that certain people have been making the connection between his wretched welfare policies, and the mass deaths of people, who’ve been sent back to work despite being clearly unfit. His outburst whining about these critics was written in response to an inquiry by Labour’s Frank Field, asking about the numbers of deaths of people assessed as fit to work and the possible link to his policies.

This has been too much for aIDS’ delicate ego, and he written back trying to defend himself, and accusing some in the media of making ‘outrageous claims’. Mike, understandably, has taken that as a personal attack on him and his blog, as he has been one of those fighting to get the true statistics on the number of people, who’ve been killed by the Gentleman Ranker’s wretched welfare to work policy for years. And throughout those years Mike, and the others also requesting this information, have been turned down, stonewalled and frankly lied to. I’ve reblogged Mike’s pieces on it and commented on his progress here. Now Mike’s hit back at IDS’ own ‘outrageous claim’ that he’s killed no one with his policy, citing academic studies. And, as any good academic does, he also shows that he has a good understanding of the underlying scientific methodology regarding the collation and interpretation of such information. This is probably more than … Smith has. His academic credentials are entirely spurious. He claims to have received a degree from an Italian institution, which doesn’t actually issue them. And when previously challenged on his statistics, which were shown to be untrue, aIDS refused to accept the evidence. Despite it being shown otherwise, Smith stated that he ‘believed’ they were true. No proof, no evidence, just blind faith. It’s an attitude that would astonish theologians and philosophers, who have to deal with questions of proof, evidence and reason in their own disciplines. One feels that Wittgenstein and Popper, two of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, would have their work cut out trying to teach this man the basic principles of ‘epistemology’ – the theory of knowledge.

Mike’s article begins

Iain Duncan Smith can’t prove us wrong. He deliberately refuses to collect the statistics that would confirm his claims – or ours.

Instead, he has claimed that This Blog (and presumably others) has accused him of “outrageous action”, without providing a scrap of evidence against the allegation.

This Writer is delighted that the Gentleman Ranker has tried to defend himself. I am currently working on a book covering this subject and his words may provide an excellent introduction.

The man we like to call RTU (Return To Unit – a Forces description of someone who trained to be an officer but was a washout) was responding to a request for information from Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee.

Mr Field had asked what data the DWP collects on the deaths of benefit claimants, in an attempt to find out whether there is any link between the work capability assessment (WCA) – carried out on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and the Personal Independent Payment – and suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.

The issue had been raised in research by Oxford University and Liverpool University entitled First Do No Harm.

This Blog reported on that document’s findings here – and you would be well-advised to refresh your memory of that article before you see the Secretary-in-a-State’s comments.

You should also read Vox Political‘s follow-up article in which a response from the Department for Work and Pensions – attempting to deny the research findings – is comprehensively disproved.

And there’s more. Much more. It’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/11/yes-iain-duncan-smith-vox-political-has-accused-you-of-outrageous-action-prove-us-wrong/

As for the title of the Oxford University study, First Do No Harm – this is was part of Hippocratic Oath. You know, the oath that for centuries doctors had to swear, which prescribed correct professional medical conduct. And the first and most important of its provisions was that the physician should do no harm to his patient. It’s a principle of medical ethics that’s glaringly, painfully obvious when you think about it. But not to the aIDS or the Tories. It’s not as though this is particularly arcane academic knowledge either. It gets into Star Trek, in the Voyager series, where in one episode it’s repeated by the holographic doctor played by Robert Picardo. Somehow, I don’t think IDS watched that one. Unfortunately, he didn’t learn it anywhere else either. And certainly not at an Italian college or uni, which didn’t give him his fictional degree.