Blind SA rejects with contempt the insinuations by Professor Sadulla Karjiker in his article published in Daily Maverick on 8 June. Blind SA operates as a pressure group, and had been, and continues to be, assertive on defending the rights of blind people, and had done this without any external influence.
Blind SA and the Broader Blindness Community have been negotiating with the DTI, the Portfolio Committee, and the Copyright Reform Commission at public hearings and with other interested stakeholders in South Africa over the past decade. In addition, we participated in negotiations on the copyright regime with Aripo, African Union and Wipo. At all these negotiations we were represented by blind persons.
The brief to our legal team that served the papers on the president and others at the Constitutional Court was provided by Blind SA, which is a national disabled people’s organisation. Our membership is made up of over 1,200 blind and partially sighted persons. Karjiker’s statement clearly indicates that we as blind people do not have the intellectual and cognitive ability and capacity to decide for ourselves. We categorically deny his assertions that we were manipulated and used as scapegoats.
Furthermore, we demand that Kajiker provides the public with proof of organisations that are fronting Blind SA in calling on the president to do what is required by the Constitution.
It is embarrassing that a person of Kajiker’s stature can stoop so low as to make claims of Blind SA being used, but could not substantiate these ludicrous assertions.
Karjiker is fortunate that he is able to have access to printed works, unlike blind people who only have access to 0.5% in an accessible format (Braille and Large Print). So, he is unable to appreciate deprivation and the book famine.
By his utterances, it is clear that he does not want blind people to be empowered and to participate actively in the social, cultural, political, civic and economic life of South Africa. He wants to deny our basic human rights as contained in the Constitution of South Africa and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He is fortunate that he has these basic human rights and we do not. His comments border on blatant discrimination and “hate speech”.
It is likely that Karjiker may not have read our Founding Affidavit. Further, his opinion on the Copyright Amendment Bill falling short of the Marrakesh Treaty is not true – in fact, the treaty provides the minimum standards and the Copyright Amendment Bill, Section 19D, incorporates the fundamental principles of the treaty.
Karjiker owes Blind SA and blind people an apology for the humiliation and discrimination of our rights by his unfair and unjustified criticism and his assertions that we cannot think for ourselves and do not have the ability to take our own decisions. May we remind him, “Nothing about us without us”. DM
Jace Nair is CEO of Blind SA.
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