December 10 is Human Rights Day, observing this year the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This milestone celebration comes just a week after the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. On this double occasion, we are happy to announce that the records of the International Federation of Persons with Physical Disability have been included in the Blinken OSA Archivum’s holdings, marking a significant expansion in our collection focus.
“Archives are morally bound to be hospitable to victims of injustice and include records and voices of those oppressed, dominated, and silenced,” noted Chief Archivist Csaba Szilágyi, when outlining critical and inclusive archiving for social justice and solidarity. Besides preserving “documents of human pain,” which can serve as basis for truth-finding and guarantees of non-recurrence and reparation, archives also “become spaces of political and social struggle for ‘self-representation, narrative plurality, and rights seeking and promotion.’”
On the grounds of the above convictions, the Blinken OSA Archivum has, for example, initiated projects experimenting with participatory archiving, and also invited affected communities to uncover their histories within our holdings. A recent acquisition signifies a next step in these efforts, demonstrating an expansion in our collection focus toward records concerning the disempowered and vulnerable—whether refugees, LGBTQI+ people, ethnic minorities, or people with disabilities—and especially the activities of their advocacy groups.
The historical records of the International Federation of Persons with Physical Disability (Fédération International des Mutilés, des Invalides du Travail et des Invalides Civiles, FIMITIC) arrived at the Archivum through an intermediary, a postdoctoral fellow at CEU’s Democracy Institute. FIMITIC is an umbrella federation of more than 30 organizations advocating for people with disabilities across the world. Since its foundation in 1953, in Switzerland, FIMITIC has compiled overarching comparisons of related legislations, called for and counselled about the development of policies facilitating the equalization of opportunities, and promoted media campaigns fighting prejudices. The organization reached out not only to national governments but also to international agencies like the World Health Organization, the United Nations, or the Council of Europe. Endorsing the active involvement of persons with disabilities, FIMITIC has always been under the guidance of the disabled themselves.
The Hungarian National Federation of Disabled Persons’ Associations (Mozgáskorlátozottak Egyesületeinek Országos Szövetsége, MEOSZ) joined the FIMITIC in 1985, finding in the international network not only an extensive source of professional information, be it rights advocacy or assistive equipment, but also a supportive community. On the initiative of FIMITIC Vice-President Dr. Csaba Chikán, the Central Secretariat of FIMITIC moved from Bonn to Vác in 2008. Dr. Chikán passed away in 2019; in the meantime, the unit relocated to Spain, leaving the historical records behind. From an open-air storage facility, the documents were transported to the Blinken OSA Archivum just days before the start of the rainy season.