Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN)
Public statement refuting accusation of anti-Semitism and racism
On 5th December 2018 a post appeared on Twitter of a photograph of a former member of Mental Health Resistance Network making a Nazi salute. This was presented as evidence of anti-Semitism and racism within MHRN. However the post was intended to mislead.
The photograph was taken by Peter Marshall, who is a well-respected photographer, on 9th December 2015, just prior to a protest by MHRN against forced back to work mental health ‘treatment’ under the threat of benefit sanctions. Below the image a caption reads:
Roy Bard of MHRN makes a Nazi salute to show his opinion of forced back to work treatment for mental health sufferers to be given in the new Southwark ‘hub’ at Thames Reach Employment Academy.
However this image has been posted widely on social media with the caption that explains the context having been removed. We believe that it was removed deliberately in order to create confusion and doubt about the nature of MHRN and the wider disability movement.
It is clear that the Nazi salute in the image was not in support of Nazism but in condemnation of government initiatives that echo the Nazi persecution of people who live with mental distress. It was clearly meant to highlight – not promote – injustice and persecution of minorities. Thousands of disabled people, including people with mental health problems, were persecuted and killed during the Nazi era of the 1930s/40s. We mourn and remember them alongside their millions of Jewish brothers and sisters, and the many others who suffered at the Nazis’ hands.
The use of Nazi imagery has been widely used by the disability movement as the present Conservative government has created a hostile environment for us. Much of this hostility focuses on our ‘lack of productivity’ and claims that we are a ‘burden’ on the social security system. This hostility began with a vigorous media propaganda campaign against us by preceding governments. The consequences have been extreme, resulting in deaths, including many suicides.
MHRN does not promote or tolerate racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, classism, fascism and discrimination against LGBT+ people or any other form of discrimination.
The posts on Twitter claim that Roy Bard, who left MHRN in 2016, is an anti-Semite. If this is the case (and we have seen no evidence that it is), it has no connection whatsoever with his involvement with MHRN. We campaign solely on domestic issues that impact on people who live with mental distress. Nobody at MHRN is aware of Roy Bard having expressed any anti-Semitic views or acted with any anti-Semitic intent. MHRN has never had any complaints of anti-Semitism before, whether about Roy Bard or anyone else.
It is deeply regrettable that, in the name of the legitimate and necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, attempts are being made to defame disabled people who are simply fighting for the financial support and mental health services we desperately need. MHRN exists to end discrimination against people with mental health problems. We oppose all prejudice and bigotry, and are proud to work with all members of the community to achieve our goals. We will oppose any attempt to divide us with false accusations.
For more on the persecution of disabled people: https://www.ushmm.org/learn/students/learning-materials-and-resources/mentally-and-physically-handicapped-victims-of-the-nazi-era/euthanasia-killings