By John Pring Disability News Service 12th October 2017
Disabled activists who carried out a direct action protest in the heart of parliament have been shortlisted for a prestigious human rights award.
The human rights organisation Liberty has named Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) as one of just three nominees for its new Courageous Voices award, which recognises activists who have taken “bold action to stand up to those in power”.
DPAC has been shortlisted for July’s Summer Of Discontent week of action, which included a protest about cuts to social care in parliament’s central lobby.
Linda Burnip, co-founder of DPAC, said she hoped the awards would be “another opportunity to reach people who we do not normally reach”, and might raise DPAC’s profile with MPs.
She said: “Our direct actions are designed to make sure that disabled people do have a voice and aren’t ignored.”
She said parliament was “where decisions about our lives are made so it seemed the most sensible place to take our complaints, and obviously we plan to keep doing it”.
The protest took place near the main Commons chamber, as Theresa May was taking part in prime minister’s questions, and saw police officers barring the path of activists – including several affected by the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund – to prevent them approaching the Commons chamber.
The protest was supported by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Green party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley.
It led to McDonnell calling for disabled people to be given the job of designing the solution to the social care funding crisis.
He told Disability News Service as the protest was taking place that it was “exactly what people have the right to do, to demonstrate, to make sure MPs are aware what they are experiencing, what disabled people are experiencing”.
And he said the direct action was “perfectly justifiable in the light of what is happening, with people’s suffering as a result of austerity”.
Courageous Voices is one of several awards that will be presented at Liberty’s 2017 Human Rights Awards on 24 October at London’s Royal Court Theatre.
Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said: “Disabled People Against Cuts embody the spirit of the Courageous Voices award and, as their Summer of Discontent campaign shows, their work is needed now more than ever.
“Equality and human rights for disabled people aren’t a commodity that [can] be rationed or reduced as a money-saving exercise.
“DPAC have been fearless and creative in getting that message across – standing up to those in power, challenging injustice and getting their voices heard.”