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Pneumonia epidemic: the abuse of power in countries’ strong anti-epidemic causes concern

The new pneumonia epidemic has spread worldwide, and many governments have introduced mandatory measures, including city blockades, border closures, and isolation. High-tech whereabouts monitoring technology has also become popular in some countries, including China, due to the epidemic, resulting in a significant reduction in personal freedom and personal privacy.

The closure of the country, the lock of the country, the curfew, and isolation are now being staged in various countries around the world. This epidemic also seems to be changing people ’s lives. The anxious people are more tolerant of the abuses that have been rejected in the past, and they are even happy to see it. to make.

Liu Luo, editor of Taiwan Legal Science website “Legal Vernacular”, also explained to the BBC in Chinese that, no matter under authoritarian or democratic systems, people would want the government to expand its power to provide more protection to the people due to fear of large-scale disasters. “Therefore, society generally agrees that extraordinary measures should be taken during extraordinary times.”

But in response to the practice of tracking people’s whereabouts through technology tracking in the epidemic, Samuel Woodhams, the head of the human rights organization Top10VPN, warned, “Although some seem completely legal, they pose a threat to citizens’ privacy and freedom of expression. “

“Hardcore” anti-epidemic measures highly praised
In the early days of the outbreak, the Chinese government was widely criticized for the so-called hard-core measures such as “closing the city” and “forbidden foot”. However, as the epidemic in its territory was gradually controlled, the “Chinese-style” epidemic prevention model was frequently followed by many countries.

In Taiwan, where freedom and democracy are emphasized, in order to prevent the spread of viruses, the authorities ordered that teachers and students below the high school level be prohibited from leaving the country, raising questions that violate the Constitution and guarantee people ’s freedom of residence and migration.

The Taiwan police monitors home quarantines through mobile phones. Under normal circumstances, they will be condemned. However, because it is effective in curbing the quarantine ’s violations of regulations, and because Taiwan has good anti-epidemic measures, it has received widespread support from the community. Similarly, the “intrusive” surveillance system adopted by Singapore and South Korea has also been praised for its successful suppression of the epidemic and its spread.

“Business Insider” (Business Insider) pointed out that many countries monitor their citizens through mobile phones to prevent the spread of the epidemic, and cited the Top10VPN survey, including Taiwan, South Korea, Iran, the United States, Israel, to varying degrees, collect people’s mobile phone data and Research people’s actions more extensively, and even some countries provide personal mobile information.

Japan declared a state of emergency on April 8th, which will give local governments compulsory expropriation of materials and land. In mid-March, the Japanese parliament amended the law on “state of emergency” to allow tougher anti-epidemic measures, which was interpreted by the media as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paving the way for future amendments to the constitution. There are also governments suspected of using the epidemic to suppress dissidents. Thailand entered a state of emergency at the end of March, granting the government to take compulsory measures, including cracking down on online community rumors, and even shutting down the media if necessary.

Hungary, dubbed the “Democratic System Shaky” by the New York Times, recently passed an emergency bill to give the Prime Minister great powers. The government can bypass Congress and issue laws to suppress any opposition. In addition, the report also stated that the US Department of Justice asked Congress to grant it more powers, including the removal of legal protection for asylum seekers and the indefinite detention of people without trial.

The action of the North African country Morocco to arrest violators was affirmed by netizens.

What’s more, according to local media reports, Philippine President Duterte ordered on April 2 that those who violated the closure of the city and put the lives of the military and police in danger were shot directly. Local media reported that four days later, when a 63-year-old man was asked to wear a mask after checking the sound of the post, he tried to attack the police and was shot dead.

The Philippine epidemic was serious, and President Duterte ordered the police and the army to shoot people who violated the isolation measures.
Anti-epidemic and anti-abuse rights
The government’s expansion of power to control the epidemic seems to have become a generally accepted “social norm”.

However, the legal profession and human rights organizations are concerned that in countries with insufficient democratic maturity, this general tolerance will magnify the power of the government indefinitely. The dictatorship and authoritarian government may use the epidemic prevention as an excuse to step up and empower themselves. After the epidemic, they will not give up, and the measures implemented during extraordinary periods such as controlling speech and monitoring the people will become the “new normal.”

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Asian affairs at Human Rights Watch, for example, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Bayu have made it clear that they want to force people to obey them. Robertson told the BBC Chinese that he was worried: “After the epidemic, they may not give up the power they have now.”

Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia since 1985, and it has been more than 30 years. He has long been regarded as an authoritarian and authoritative leader by the outside world. He has stated that Cambodia may enter a state of emergency if the epidemic spreads. On March 26, the Thai military government declared a state of emergency. The authorities have the right to impose a curfew, ban domestic tourism, and close the media.

The new coronavirus epidemic in China continues to spread, and there are a large number of short videos about the epidemic on social media in mainland China. Some were arrested because they did not wear masks, some were sent to the relevant departments for instruction by releasing relevant information about the epidemic, and some police officers locked suspected sick people at home.
Human Rights Watch criticized the Cambodian government for using the epidemic on March 24, imprisoning opposition activists, and other people who expressed concern about the epidemic and the government ’s corresponding actions. In response, government spokesman Phy Siphan confirmed some arrests, but refuted the allegations, saying that other places have taken similar actions to fight the spread of false news about the epidemic.

The Thai Bangkok Post wrote that the emergency order would weaken free speech. His columnist Surasak Glahan wrote that the emergency order should have been a powerful means to stop the spread of the epidemic, but the order is often abused by the ruling authorities to control freedom of speech and information flow.

Liu Luo also pointed out that under normal circumstances, democratic countries must administer according to law, and everything must be based on the law, but because of the ever-changing infectious diseases, which cannot be solved under the existing legal framework, usually the “Special Regulations” or Announce an “emergency order” or “state of emergency”. He said that regardless of the dictatorship, the government of a democratic society cannot do whatever it wants. “The government’s power expansion is under the existing democratic system, through relevant bills such as emergency orders, etc. in exchange for people’s security, but it can not be unlimited, it must be adjusted in response to the new situation,” he said.

Liu Luo also explained that many people want the government to be tough when this disaster occurs, “However, the sovereignty of a democratic country belongs to the people, and it does not belong to anyone. Therefore, it is necessary to hold this point. The responsibility of the state to control the epidemic is everyone. Everyone needs to cooperate with epidemic prevention. If they only hope that the government will expand their power, they are evading their responsibility. “

Robertson said to BBC Chinese: “When the Asian government is eager to expand its power, it has not realized that obtaining the people’s willingness to cooperate is essential to control the epidemic.”

Taking Taiwan as an example, Liu Luo also explained the importance of supervision. He pointed out that the Taiwanese government did expand its power in accordance with the law because of the epidemic situation, but it is unlikely to move toward dictatorship. This is because the administrative unit will promulgate measures that will be supervised by the Legislative Yuan, and will be reviewed by the media and the people. Eventually, the judge may even apply for the constitutional interpretation. “Private power is very strong, and the Taiwanese government will make policies based on the direction of the wind and public opinion,” he said.

The Taiwan Human Rights Promotion Association published an article on the review website “Think Tank”, requesting that the government’s anti-epidemic policy should also take into account law and human rights. The comment reads: “Because it is a long-term war of resistance, it is necessary to review the lawfulness and necessity of the existing means repeatedly, and strive to clarify and improve the rule of law, and reduce the risk of violation of the law and human rights violations by all parties concerned.

Epidemic prevention and free speech
Compared with the anti-epidemic measures of a democratic society, what China has done is more tough and effective, and it is sought after by many countries, but it has also attracted the attention of the international community. Robertson pointed out that the CCP dictatorship concealed the facts when the epidemic occurred, and the response was slow. “Today, while there is still doubt about the transparency of the epidemic information, is it a strategy to shirk responsibility and evade international criticism when declaring successful control of the epidemic?”

The South China Morning Post reported that China had learned of the first confirmed case in Hubei as early as mid-November last year, and then there were new cases every day. Robin Brant, a BBC correspondent in Shanghai, pointed out that the outbreak occurred in China last December and initially concealed the existence, scale and severity of the outbreak. When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan a few weeks ago, the Japanese Kyodo News Agency quoted a local physician as saying that the authorities asked them not to report new cases.

Cedric Alviani, chief executive of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia Office, told BBC Chinese that the Chinese government uses the epidemic to control people ’s freedom of expression and highlight its image of good epidemic control, but no one knows why . He said: “Reporters in China are getting more and more difficult to obtain information. The information released by the Chinese government is based on their preferences. No one can be sure that the number of outbreaks is correct.”

Ai Weiang said to the BBC in Chinese: “The government controls online speech. Under the condition of opaque information, it is difficult for people to know the actual situation and cannot communicate with each other to prevent epidemic prevention measures.

In March, the “Citizen Lab” in Toronto, Canada, published a survey and pointed out that the micro-envelope locks some keywords related to the new crown epidemic and criticism of Xi Jinping. Although China has been reviewing online speech for a number of years, the report said that in the weeks before Chinese officials admitted that the epidemic was serious, China had reviewed the epidemic’s speech.

On January 27 this year, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang gave a public response to the issue of untimely information disclosure for the first time in a live interview with China Central Television. He said that because the new coronavirus pneumonia is an infectious disease, according to China’s “Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Law,” it must be “disclosed according to law.”

“As a local government, I can only disclose information after obtaining information and authorization, which was not understood at the time,” Zhou Xianwang said.

Zhou Xianwang’s remarks were the first time after government officials accused the Wuhan authorities of concealment at the outbreak of the outbreak, and government officials admitted the problem for the first time. But it is obvious that he believes that the Wuhan government should not, or at least should not independently assume that responsibility.

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On March 10, China ’s “People” magazine with an official background released the March article “The Whistle Man”. The protagonist was Ai Fen, director of the emergency department of Wuhan Central Hospital, reviewing her experiences and feelings from the beginning of the epidemic, but The article was deleted shortly after it was issued. Under the CCP’s high-intensity public opinion control, this post deletion encountered an unexpected reaction. Chinese netizens, like Solitaire, used various versions to bring the article back to life again and again, surpassing the powerful censorship behind it.

Ai Weiang emphasized that the authoritarian government will hide real information in order to prevent people from panic and maintain social stability, but this will be counterproductive. He also pointed out that Taiwan is separated from the mainland of China by implementing a democratic system. The epidemic prevention is successful because the government has won the trust of the people, and the Taiwanese believe in the information published by the government.

In February of this year, the number of confirmed cases, suspected cases and deaths officially announced by China were on a downward trend. Officials of the World Health Organization have repeatedly praised the anti-epidemic and anti-epidemic measures taken by China, including praising China for adopting “the bravest, most flexible, and most active prevention and control measures in history.” But while China was proud of these praises, Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy prime minister, met the residents through the window shouting “false, fake, everything is fake” while protesting in Wuhan. Some bad behaviors by the authorities include selling high-priced vegetables to residents through community organizations. Then the official media said that Sun Chunlan immediately asked the provincial and municipal leaders to investigate immediately.

Liu Luo also said: “China seems to be efficient, but data, policies and supervision mechanisms are not visible, whether authoritarianism is effective or not, I have a big question mark.” Taiwan political commentator Jin Hengwei said in the media that the anti-epidemic At that time, the social ligaments of democratic countries were in “trust”, and totalitarian countries only talked about power. Robertson also held the same view. Epidemic prevention gained the support of the people, which is more useful than requiring the people to cooperate in a powerful way. The government must provide correct information, and it must be open and transparent, but he said: “China has not done a good job on the above items.”

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