Things you should consider when talking about crimes against disabled people (such as the #Potsdam killings)

A thread
1) There are no such things as „mercy killings“

The idea of killing disabled people to deliver them from their pain is deeply intertwined with the ableist perception that living with a disability is a fate worse than death.
Stressing that the murderer cared selflessly for the victims is playing into the stereotype that disabled people and their needs are a burden. Both arguments grossly undermine the humanity of disabled people.

We don’t need pity, we need human rights.
2) Be aware of disability history

Keep in mind that the idea of „mercy killings“ and the devaluation of disabled lives are closely linked to #eugenics, a set of beliefs and practices that marks disabled people as inferior and therefore unworthy of life.
This is specifically true in Germany, where the phrase „life unworthy of life“ was employed to justify the organized killings of disabled people during the Nazi regime, also known as Aktion #T4.
After the Second World War, disabled people were denied recognition as victims of the Nazis and instead many of them continued to experience discrimination, violence and segregation in all aspects of their lives (such as education and living).
At least two of the victims of the Potsdam killings have been institutionalized since their childhood.
3) Stop making up excuses

When reporting about the killings of disabled people, the media often focuses on the murderer. This often goes hand in hand with using certain stereotypes as an excuse for the commitment of the crime.
Common stereotypes are the overworked, selfless carer and the mentally ill individual. These stereotypes are employed to either empathize with the situation of the perpetrator (the selfless carer) or to distance oneself from the crimes (committed by the mentally ill other).
4) Be aware of structural ableism

Reports about crimes against disabled people should investigate the ableist structures that enable violence, such as power structures and interdependence.
Instead of treating each crime as an isolated incident, it is important to highlight the parallels to similar cases.

Here are a few examples:
- The investigation against 145(!) employees of a care home for disabled people in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, concerning the suspicion of deprivation of liberty and bodily harm in January 2021.
- The Sagamihara stabbings in 2016, committed by a former employee of a care facility of disabled people in Japan, causing the deaths of 19 disabled people.
- The case of Nils Högel, a former nurse convicted for killing at least 85 people in two different German clinics between 1999 and 2005.
5) Acknowledge the impact of austerity politics

Even though it is well researched that disabled people living in care homes are at a much higher risk of experiencing physical, sexual and psychological violence, austerity politics force even more disabled people into care homes.
During the pandemic, the German minister of health, Jens Spahn, promoted a new law for intensive care (#IPReG) that specifically targets disabled people who depend on a ventilator for breathing.
While many of them live their lives independently with the support of personal assistance, making them move into a care home would be the cheaper alternative for the state.
Protests against this law (#IPReG) in front of the German parliament as well as online on social media were almost exclusively supported by disabled people and their closest friends and family.
6) Center the voices of disabled people

Media reports are not only promoting ableist stereotypes, they also miss out on including the perspectives of disabled people in their coverage.
If you want to show your solidarity with the disabled community in these times, center the voices of disabled people when engaging with the crimes committed against members of their community.


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Yesterday, four disabled people got murdered, another one severely injured in a care home in #Potsdam (Germany) – and almost all people engaging with this on social media are other disabled people.
Dear activists, dear fellow human beings, where is your solidarity with disabled people? Especially in a country that has a history of systematically killing disabled people, especially those of us being institutionalized?
Dear politicians, dear fellow human beings, where is your solidarity with disabled people? Especially in a country that has a history of systematically killing disabled people, especially those of us being institutionalized?
@BMG_Bund @BMAS_Bund @RegSprecher
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