In the past five years, over four hundred people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents, relatives or caregivers. In 2016 in Sagamihara, Japan, 19 disabled people were murdered and a further 26 were injured at a residential home for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. The names of the dead have still not been released. The attack was committed by a former care worker who stated that “the disabled can only create misery” and called for disabled people to be “euthanised” by their guardians for the sake of the economy.
On Wednesday, March 1st, disability communities in Sydney & around the world will gather to speak the names of the dead, mourn our losses, and fight for our future.
We hold the Day of Mourning vigils to draw attention to the violent injustice faced by disability communities, to commemorate the lives of victims of filicide, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities.
The total number of killings is likely higher than the amount that reach the media. This problem is made worse by irresponsible news coverage which presents these murders as the sympathetic acts of loving and desperate parents, by a justice system which often gives a lighter sentence to a parent who kills a disabled child, and by the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living. Media coverage and public discourse about disability filicides frequently justifies them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful,” rather than appropriately condemning the crimes and those who commit them. If the parent or caregiver stands trial, they are given sympathy and comparatively lighter sentences, if they are sentenced at all. The victims are disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of people they should have been able to trust, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats.
But it doesn’t have to.
ASAN held the first Day of Mourning in 2012 as a response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California, by his mother. ASAN has continued to organize the event each year, partnering with other disability rights groups including Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, ADAPT, and the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2017, ASAN released an updated anti-filicide resource, available here:http://autisticadvocacy.org/home/projects/disability-community-day-of-mourning/anti-filicide/. ASAN also maintains the online Disability Memorial, a site dedicated to commemorating disabled victims of filicide, available here: http://disability-memorial.org/.
The Sydney vigil will be held at the Red Rattler Theatre and begins at 2pm. Speakers include disabled activists Robin M. Eames, Margot Lousia, and Georgia Rose Cranko.
This event is being held on the stolen lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. Sovereignty has never been ceded. We pay our respects to the traditional custodians of this land and their Elders past and present. This land is, was, and always will be Aboriginal land.
Please join us on March 1st to remember our dead, and to be reminded that our lives are worth living, and that disability is never a justification for violence.
– This event will contain discussion of filicide, violence, and ableism. Please exercise care & compassion with regard to yourself and others.
– This event is fragrance free. Please avoid the use of strong scents (e.g. perfume or scented lotion) to accommodate the needs of people with hypersensory issues or allergic reactions. If this is a concern or you have any questions please contact the event organisers.
– The Red Rattler is wheelchair accessible (with a slight bump at the doorway) and has a wheelchair accessible toilet on the ground floor. The venue is a large room that will have seating and will likely be dimly lit. If the temperature on the day is high we will try to mitigate this with the use of fans and will have drinking water available. We are currently trying to source an Auslan interpreter (the event speakers/organisers know the alphabet). Unfortunately we are unable to produce materials in Braille. All visual material will endeavour to use large, clear fonts and subtitles. There will be a low sensory space upstairs (without lift access) reserved for anyone who needs to take a break.
– Feel free to bring signs/posters, battery operated candles (some will be supplied at the event), or just come as you are. There will be photos taken of the event but we will not photograph anyone who does not want to be photographed.
– We ask that attendants please consider a 50c eco-tax donation to support the venue.
– There will likely be online events for those who cannot attend in person; further details will be released as soon as possible.
– If you have any queries about accessibility, or if you would like to get involved, please feel free to contact the event organisers. You can reach Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Facebook event can be found here.
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!