The Guardian: Armenian government unable to provide adequate facilities for disabled people
The Armenian government is unable to provide adequate facilities for people with disabilities, The Guardian reported Aug. 11 describing the problems of disabled people in Armenia.
“61-year-old Radif Shamoyan has been unable to walk since an accident when she was 19, but says she would be able to get around in her wheelchair perfectly well – if only she could get it out of the flat,” says the article. “The problem is that her neighbours have built a storage room near the entrance to the building, blocking the space where Shamoyan had hoped to install a ramp for her chair.”
She tried to take her neighbours to court to force them to remove the store room, but the case failed because she was unable to afford a lawyer. The court ruled that she had not provided sufficient evidence to support her case.
“I have to ask someone to do all the shopping for me,” she said. “It is not easy to ask people every time. [But] I could do everything for myself, if I could just leave home.”
Shamoyan tried to appeal against the court’s decision, but the case was dismissed because it had not been lodged by a licensed advocate.
Despite this lack of care from authorities, Shamoyan has not given up. When her appeal was refused she applied to the European Court of Human Rights to have her neighbour’s store room declared illegal.
Last year the court ruled that her right to a fair trial had been violated, but Armenian authorities have yet to respond. The local municipality said it had no knowledge of the ECHR’s ruling and refused to comment on the case, according to the article.
“Shamoyan’s particular problem may be unique, but the Armenian government’s failure to provide adequate facilities is a frustration she shares with almost 200,000 people with disabilities in the country,” says the article. “According to a recent survey by the advocacy group Agat, eight percent of Armenian women with disabilities are not able to leave their homes more than a few times a year.”
A UNICEF report in 2012 found that up to 200 girls with disabilities have never left home, or only go out when visiting the doctor, according to the article.
“The authorities of Armenia don’t think that the provision of facilities is their responsibility,” said Zaruhi Batoyan, the president of Armenia’s National Disability Advocacy Coalition. “They say they cannot afford it because of financial problems, but they always find resources for buying new government cars or upgrading officials’ offices.”
“In the meantime Shamoyan’s health has deteriorated, but she says she will keep on fighting. She believes that a new government is needed to improve facilities for people with disabilities, and is determined to vote during next year’s election,” says the article.
“As is customary in Armenia, where there is no postal voting, she will have to rely on political parties to take her to the polling station.”