People with disabilities call for constitutional amendments to be inclusive

A symbolic campaign by the Alliance for Inclusive Society Movement (Allism) on 6 September 2020 called for any constitutional amendment to also benefit people with disabilities.

The Allisms performance before the statement reading.

The campaign was launched at the Pathum Wan Skywalk, Bangkok, in the form of a pantomime where a man in a wheelchair tried to reach a golden phan (traditional sacred plate) and a student uniform at the top of a set of stairs, reflecting the inaccessibility of public welfare and participation.

Auttapon Srichitsanuwaranon, the performer and Allism representative, then read a statement that the 2017 Constitution did not clearly ensure the right of children with disability to access free compulsory education, unlike the 2007 version. This may lead the state ignoring people with disabilities.

The lack of access to education may spill over to deprive the disabled of opportunities and a better quality of life later on, which leave them behind and unable to contribute to the country's development.

The Allism statement contains 3 demands:

  1. Drafting a new constitution. Sections relating to education should consider the diversity of people. The state must provide disabled people with the means to access education, such as assistance, instructional media and an environment for learning.
  2. The Constitution must require that all educational institutions, according to ministerial rules, wholly and retroactively provide facilities for disabled and elderly people.
  3. The Constitution should protect the rights to access and to participate in social activities by providing allowances in line with the national average poverty standard. This will support access to education for the disabled, as long as Thailand still does not have public transportation that helps to lower living costs for all.

The statement also has 2 standpoints:

  1. All demands must be based on the principle of Independent Living (IL), which is important in establishing and returning the power of decision-making to disabled people.
  2. All demands must be established in a democratic environment where the supreme power is with the people, without coups d’état ripping up the constitution. The principles of democracy will ensure that the people’s voice is heard and will lead to decentralization, helping to build engagement in decision-making at all levels.

“We agree with and support the demands of the students and their allies that are established following a democratic approach because we believe that seeing all people as equal, accepting diversity and valuing all voices will turn the country into a society in peace,” the statement said.

Auttapon said his performance reflects 4 obstacles that children with disabilities face: environment, attitude, public participation and public policies, which contribute to exclusion from education, a means to raise one’s quality of life.

He also wants to voice support for constitutional amendments.

“Seen in terms of economics, the problems of work for disabled people during Covid-19  is affected. When normal people are fired, the quota for employing disabled people is decreased. In terms of making a living, the impact is a higher cost of living. Severely disabled people have a high cost of living.

“If politics is good, welfare for the disabled will also be better. There will be rights of access, education in a dimension where people can study together. They will find perspectives that they themselves are not limited. They will have friends from many groups, and access to opportunities through many channels,” said Auttapon.

Source: Prachatai, ThisAble.me