London hallmark strewn with remembrance flowers, writes BEN CHACKO
Disability activists poured into London's Parliament Square on Saturday to demand that the government ends its vicious attacks on their communities.
The "10,000 cuts and counting" event saw thousands of white flowers strewn across the grass.
They were placed there in memory of those who died within six weeks of being forced through punitive work capability assessments conducted by disgraced privateer Atos.
Speakers warned that the cost in lives was much higher as the 10,600 deaths recorded only covered the period January-November 2011.
Dean of St Paul's Cathedral Dr David Ison led the crowd as they turned to face four pillars of the British Establishment surrounding the square - Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Supreme Court and the Treasury - to stand in solidarity with people under attack from austerity policies.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) spokeswoman Ellen Clifford called austerity "an excuse" for the Tories' savage vilification of disabled people as "shirkers."
"We're here to remember people who didn't deserve to end up as collateral damage in a greedy quest for profit," she said.
And Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn noted that since so many win appeals against Atos rulings, the policy didn't even save money.
"It costs more to humiliate people and make them poor," he said.
Michael Meacher MP said the assessments do "not help people into work.
"But it does make money for big corporations to devise tests which set people up to fail."
Mr Meacher joined activists from DPAC, Black Triangle and other groups at 10 Downing Street to present the War on Welfare Petition demanding an end to attacks on disabled people.
Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell was late for the meeting having come straight from a Samaritans stall following "five austerity suicides in Hayes."
Many mourners wept as they laid flowers for friends and relatives who died in misery and fear after DWP threats to cut off their benefits.
Campaigners vowed: "This is a fight we can win" since judges have ruled disabled people can appeal against the discriminatory bedroom tax.