Akel on Thursday backed the criticisms of people with disabilities over the annual Radiomarathon fund-raising foundation for being condescending towards them.

The left-wing party’s statement was issued after the completion of the annual Radiomarathon fundraiser earlier this week.

People with disabilities and their families should be involved in decisions regarding this institution, which needs to be re-evaluated, Akel said.

Since its inception in the 1990s, the purpose of the Radiomarathon has been to raise awareness about the challenges and harsh marginalisation experienced by people with disabilities. This in the past was successful, the party said.

“However, after several decades, society and the state are called upon to reevaluate the institution, its evolution, the messages it ultimately conveys to society, and the responsibility of the state and the respective governments,” it noted.

Last week, the Cyprus Confederation of Disability Organisations (Kysoa) issued a damning statement over the Radiomarathon, saying it was patronising people with disabilities.

It accused the NGO of “commodifying disability and promoting pity but also exposing Cypriot society internationally as not being a modern democratic state.”

Kysoa added the state tries to play off the fundraising efforts as something to support children with disabilities but in fact “considers them as people of low perception and intelligence”.

Akel on Thursday clarified that “the pure and sincere intentions” of the institution’s volunteers and of the people who contribute to its fundraising are “undeniable”. However, it said both public and private organisations still have a long way to go in fulfilling their legal obligations toward people with disabilities.

“Some [organisations] use the [Radiomarathon] institution to advertise their social awareness. Stereotypes and a sense of pity frequently dominate the rhetoric of these events,” the announcement said.

The party called for transparency in the allocation of funds collected and stressed the need to evaluate the actual impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

“It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy all their human rights fully and without discrimination and have access to all aspects of public life. The action of social organisations, private entities, and citizens can have a complementary role, but always in line with contemporary policies on people with disabilities.”

Akel believes that it is now time for the state and society to listen, first of all, to the organisations of people with disabilities and their families and to make decisions about the future of the Radiomarathon.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the Republic of Cyprus in 2011, is the primary compass and criterion for assessing what the Cypriot state has done or failed to do, Akel added.