Tokyo was horror but as a disabled man I will fight for equality

By Sean O’Kelly  @SeanOKelly92

Last night Ireland and the world heard of the mass killing of 19 innocent people with mental and physical disabilities – Tonight, as a disability campaigner and man with physical disability – I condemn this barbarity.

In recent weeks and months, we have been increasingly hearing the words “attack” “terror” and “killed” far too often – but for me, as a person living with a physical disability, I have to say the horror we have seen unfold near Tokyo at a care centre, was almost too much to bear.

Japanese media have reported the 26-year-old former care worker, Satoshi Uematsu, has told the police:  “It’s better that the disabled disappear.”

This is a very senseless statement – and though, of course we have to question the sanity behind such words, nonetheless, the fact this has been said – that these murders have been committed, hurts a great deal.

As people living with disabilities, we all have rights, just as anyone else.  Those rights include freedom to live, to love and to work.  We should not be victims or marginalised in any way.  We ought be treated as equal.  The fact these killings took place may have created fear among some people with disabilities.  I am here to say DO NOT BE AFRAID.  Keep your head up.  Continue to be strong.

This was the biggest atrocity that Japan has ever witnessed – and it was indeed a very sad day for that nation and the wider society of people with disabilities here in Ireland and across the globe.  Some of us sadly do feel marginalised, like we do not have a place – and this was the last thing those people needed to see or hear.

But the face of hatred will not win – we are strong as a community – and I am thankful that there have been no other significant cases of hatred against people with disabilities in the world in recent times.

Here in Ireland today, we do not have all the rights we should have been given at birth.  I have started a campaign which you can support here on Facebook or here @adayinmywheels to start the change.

I want to see equality for all disabled people in Ireland.  I also want to raise awareness of the challenges we face everyday as people with disabilities.

Let’s all side-by-side come together to fight hatred with positive action – with change.  #Fighthatewithlove

Sean O’Kelly is a disability campaigner who has started the A Day in My Wheels campaign to help raise issues of equality for the disabled in Ireland today.


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