When COVID-19 triggers human rights violation
In November 2019, there was a report that an outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) took place in Hubei province, China. At that time, the world did not realise how serious the outbreak was until it started spreading worldwide and claimed daily infections up to now. There are very few countries which have not been reported on COVID-19 cases. When the world’s security is being disrupted, fear of the pandemic infectious disease is crawling straight into people’s hearts and leads to horrible incidents.
Fear and detestation of people of other ethnic groups have long been an unresolved social tension. The COVID-19 outbreak even exacerbates the tension as the hated in some areas were confronted by inequality and life-threatening dangers. Jonathan Mok, a 23-year-old Singaporean student of University College London, was yelled at and attacked by a group of British teens who did not want him to stay in the country and said that he was a spreader of the coronavirus. Mok was so badly injured that he needed a surgery just because he has Asian characteristics. Mok’s case is not the only one that has ever happened to people of different races, but a spark of terrible incidents taking place globally.
In the US, black and Hispanic people are usually stigmatised. During the period when surgical face masks were out of stock, everyone was advised to use bandanas or other homemade face coverings instead. However, due to the age-old link between the image of “black and Hispanic people with masks on” and “terrorism or criminality,” these ethnic people are afraid to go out with masks on in fear of physical assault while not wearing one increases a chance of infections. There was a further report from the Economic Policy Institute that black and Hispanic people are less likely to be allowed to work from home by employers. In that case, they are left with no choice.
In addition to the racial tension and the violation of human rights from the COVID-19 outbreak in the Western world, Muslims belonging to a minority group in India were also condemned for spreading the virus. The conflict arose from a fake social media video of an accused Muslim intentionally coughing in public to spread the disease. The video spurs hatred for Muslims since there were mountains of abhorrent posts on social media in India that were out of control. A Hindu politician also joined the public outcry by using the fake video to attack Muslims and satisfy his underlying hatred for them.
Although the spread of COVID-19 has caused distressing impacts on the world’s citizens, the virus knows no religion, race or ethnicity. It is better for everyone to help prevent the risks of infections as much as possible instead of condemning and dividing people of different groups, to rely on factual evidence instead of enmity, to love instead of loathing, and together we will get through this pandemic crisis.