Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Guterres denounces the pandemic’s use of a ‘pretext’ for repression: …


Today, Monday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, expressed his regret that unnamed countries used the epidemic as a pretext to suppress “dissenting voices” and silence the media.

“The authorities of some countries have taken strict security measures and imposed emergency measures to suppress dissenting voices, abolish basic freedoms, silence independent media, and obstruct the work of non-governmental organizations,” the Secretary-General said in a pre-recorded video recording.

He explained: “Measures related to the epidemic have been invoked to undermine electoral processes, weaken the voice of opponents, and suppress criticism.”

He pointed out that “human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, activists and even workers in the health sector have been subjected to arrest, prosecution, intimidation and surveillance for criticizing the imposition of measures, or lack thereof, to confront the epidemic.”

Also, “vital information was sometimes withheld, and deadly misinformation was exaggerated, including by some leaders,” without mentioning any of them.

The Secretary-General devoted a large part of his annual speech to the Council to the Covid-19 epidemic, noting in particular that it “exacerbated vulnerabilities” and changed the lives of hundreds of millions of families who lost their jobs or had their income reduced.

He said, “The epidemic has affected, to varying degrees, women, minorities, the elderly, people with special needs, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples,” and “extreme poverty has increased.”

“Years of progress in gender equality have evaporated,” he added.

The Secretary-General also denounced the “national” tendencies in vaccination operations, as “ten countries alone received more than three quarters of the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine given so far.”

And he considered that “the inability to ensure equitable access to vaccines represents a new moral bankruptcy that takes us back.”

In his speech, Guterres called for “intensifying efforts against the return of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and terrorism motivated by racism and ethnicity” and for working to coordinate measures on a global scale to curb this “dangerous and growing threat.”

He considered that it “has become a cross-border threat” rather than an internal terrorist threat.



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