After decades of exposés, it has become rather obvious to most people that warehousing human beings in archaic, decrepit institutions—still prolific across Central and Eastern Europe—is a grave violation of their human rights. So why do government leaders continue to ignore the plight of thousands of children and adults who have intellectual or mental health disabilities? Why do these institutions still exist?
In “Humans Null and Void,” the latest heartwrenching exposé by investigative journalist Yana Buhrer Tavanier, we get a simple, yet bleak, answer: it is because the people wasting away in these institutions don’t really count. They are null and void as far as governments are concerned, and the ugly truth is that they deteriorate in institutions from the mind-numbing boredom, the loneliness, and the lack of love.
As Yana so powerfully illustrates, the Macedonian government is failing its citizens. Hundreds of people are locked away in institutions across the country. Many people spend their entire lives in institutions because Macedonia offers no support to families and communities.
These are places, as Yana writes, “where the holes in the corroded walls are in fact dug by human fingers”; where a resident’s “daily route [is] between the filthy bedroom, the filthy bathroom, the filthy canteen and the filthy, empty day room; the stench being their constant companion, following them everywhere.”
Watch the video. Read the website. But how many more horror stories do we need to hear before governments take action?