Disabled hold independence rally in Strasbourg

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About 300 disabled people from across Europe paraded through Strasbourg Wednesday with the aid of wheelchairs, crutches and guide dogs to seek European Parliament help in living independent lives.

Carrying posters reading: "Full citizenship, against exclusion", the protesters from some 20 countries decried the use of European funds for building handicapped centres, saying the focus should be on home care.

"The money should rather be spent on care assistants who support the disabled on a daily basis and allow them to have their own homes, to have professional lives, and to live as normal a life as possible," Jamie Bolling, head of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), told AFP.

"Nobody wishes to be placed in an institution and we demand that all such establishments in Europe be closed by 2020," she said.

"It is up to the European Parliament to exert pressure so that European funds are used" in the best way.

Members and supporters of ENIL will on Friday meet European parliamentarians, including members of a committee on disabled people.

© 2011 AFP

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