Nineteen paper cranes – one year on

One year ago last week, 19 disabled people were murdered in Sagamihara in Japan. Their killer had decided this was a mercy killing and that society was better off without these people, because they were disabled.

Vigils and one minute silences are commonplace for those who died in war or in terror attacks, but as this Independent piece quite rightly questions, where is the news coverage of the Sagamihara massacre one year on? Where is the trending hashtag on Twitter?

Only a small amount of people on social media are remembering this massacre one year on, however the majority of these people are disabled and therefore directly impacted by hatecrime like this.

To me the lack of impact this event appears to have had beyond the disabled community speaks volumes about the perceived value of disabled people’s lives to wider society.

An organisation dedicated to improving lives of those with learning difficulties, L’Arche Internationale, have released the following video in remembrance of those who died. It’s a beautiful memorial, so please share this far and wide to remind people of what happened:

However, something important is captured in the name of this video – Nineteen Paper Cranes – which is that the names of the victims were never released. The significance of this elaborated on in the Crippled Scholar blog post, making the point that they remain a homogenised disabled group – rather than being named individuals with their own personalities, quirks and passions.

Robin Meames blog post reveals the reason for this is that the victims’ families did not want to be embarrassed by it being revealed that they were related to disabled people.

There is so much about this awful event, and the attitudes and behaviours that followed, that serves as a warning as to what can happen when disabled people are seen as a drain on society; when people’s worth is only measured by their productivity.

So one year on please remember what happened. Share this blog post, the other posts, the video and your own thoughts on Facebook and Twitter using #Sagamihara. You’ll help to create greater awareness of the danger of dehumanising and devaluing disabled people.

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