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Stay Alert! Archive of Human Rights Issues in times of COVID-19

Police Brutality: 

(Representative Photo: The Wire)

As India goes into an extended lockdown till 3rd May 2020, a range of police excesses have been reported. Instead of helping distraught citizens cope with these frustrating and hungry times, various accounts of police brutality has demonstrated an aggressive face of the government.

While public messaging has spoken essentially to the needs of middle and upper classes, the poor are running from pillar to post in search of food and socio-economic security, whilst getting beaten by the police. Several are walking hundreds of miles to the perceived safety of their village homes.

There have also been several reports from across India of targeting certain communities, and distressingly this include specific messages to boycott trade with them and also to ostracise them.

In this section we update news of police brutality and highly condemnable actions communalising the situation. 

Featured Article(s): Licensed to beat, abuse and kill: Police brutality, a colonial legacy, has tenaciously clung on to the mantle of law enforcement personnel.

In Parallel With the COVID 19 Pandemic, We Now Have a Pandemic of Arrests: Lockdown – the word that best describes our present physical and mental state – has now acquired a vicious new meaning. As if in parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have a pandemic of arrests, with prison gates clanging shut on those marked by the state as anti-nationals.

Pandemic Politics:

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, governments across the globe are faced with tough decisions regarding their economy, public health and safety, international relations, elections, etc. How are the World Leaders making these decisions and what are the factors influencing them? What are their considerations and how does it impact the international and national communities? For instance, yesterday in an attempt to evade responsibility for his mismanagement of COVID19 crisis in America, US President Donald Trump suspended payments to WHO.

In this section we collate such news from India and around the world about the politics of management or malgovernance in times of the pandemic. Read more about pandemic politics here.

Featured Article(s): Data From Cremation, Burial Grounds Contradicts Delhi’s Official COVID-19 Death Toll: Report: The actual death toll from COVID-19 could be four times higher than the official figure.

Clueless captain: As the nation longs for relief from the pandemic and the economic misery caused by an ill-planned lockdown, the government prefers symbolism over substance, exposing its lack of meaningful leadership.

Some Thorny Questions About the Military’s Rose Petal Show for ‘Corona Warriors’: Since there is a new normal and we are no longer told anything of importance, we shall never know whether it was the politicians’ decision or the faujis went solo. Either way, the move is troubling.

Convert World’s Hatred for China Into Economic Opportunity, Advises Gadkari: Interacting with overseas Indian students via video conferencing, the minister for MSME and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said, “All the world now, they have hatred for China. Is it possible for us to convert it into an opportunity for India.”

Vaccine Chief Says He Was Removed After Questioning Drug Trump Promoted: The doctor who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration has put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”

Attack on Democracy:

(Representative Photo: Deccan Herald)

In a world where varying degrees of restriction of civil rights and freedoms have become common place, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic is a cause for worry. According to a report by the CIVICUS monitor, titled, “People power under attack” (published in December 2019) there has been a worldwide decline of important democratic ideals like fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly. According to the same report, shockingly, 40 percent of the world’s population now live in countries that repress fundamental rights of its citizens. The same figure in 2018 stood at 19 percent. The state of affairs is such that only 3 percent of the global population can claim to be living in countries where fundamental rights of the citizens are respected and protected. 

In the context of India the erosion of fundamental rights has been in progress for a while. According to the latest Democracy Index, India stands at the 51st spot after slipping 10 places. The emergence of COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown has enabled to further contain free movement and assembly especially at a time when the country was already in upheaval over the passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

This section comprises select stories from all over the world and from India that reflect this erosion and attack on democracy and human rights.

Today’s featured article(s): Revisiting Hitler in today’s age: Hitler is a creepy reminder that there is no shortage of charismatic, authoritarian-minded political leaders prowling the world stages today.

How the lockdown is triggering a constitutional crisis: We need to ask: Has the Disaster Management Act of 2005 replaced the Constitution of India? Why is our federal structure being undermined? Since the beginning of India’s response to Covid- 19, the government has used a complicated tapestry of legal powers to have its way. 

Would-be autocrats are using covid-19 as an excuse to grab more power: Strong measures are needed to keep the public safe, they insist.

Attack on Free Press: (India and Global):

Coronavirus pandemic is not just taking lives, it is killing truth and impairing free speech. Journalists across the globe are risking their health as well as their lives to cover news and unearth happenings that do make a difference to the world. In this process of bringing news from the frontlines journalists have braved occupational hazard and have exposed loopholes in the way governments have tackled the pandemic; for which they are being harassed, threatened and silenced. Governments around the world are cracking down on journalists covering COVID-19. But, press freedom must not be undermined by measures to counter disinformation about the pandemic. Read more about it here.

Today’s Featured Article(s): When a News Article Vanishes, We Have More Than Just a Pandemic to Worry About: Last week, The New Indian Express, one of India’s major English newspapers, pulled down an article that was heavily critical of the Centre’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The article, entitled ‘Centre’s COVID-19 Communication Plan: hold back data, gag agencies and scientists’, discussed the government’s reluctance to share outbreak-related data and attempts to muzzle scientists.

Turkey’s Erdogan Clamps Down Further on Media Amid Coronavirus Crisis: Fear is mounting among Turkey’s journalists. For many, the current climate is reminiscent of the aftermath of the attempted coup in July 2016, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cracked down on critics and opposition figures in an unprecedented wave of arrests.Just a week ago, Turkish media reports cited the president as saying after a Cabinet meeting that the country had to be rescued not only from the coronavirus but from “all media and political viruses, too,” referring to journalists and critics from opposition parties.

Gulf News editor in Dubai receives threats from BJP’s IT cell and verified accounts: Features Editor at Gulf News, Dubai, who is accused of reporting on Islamophobic social media posts by Indian nationals in UAE and Gulf countries, is receiving threats from Indian social media users.

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