International media outlets, MPs and protesters have cast the spotlight on Australia in recent times as our fundamental freedoms have been severely curtailed.
“We are a proud liberal democracy,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in a speech during his recent attendance at the UN General Assembly:
We believe in a world order that favours freedom and that supports the dignity and free expression of all people. We believe in human rights … Australia was one of eight countries only in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we continue to strengthen the international human rights system.
Most Australians would agree with the Prime Minister on this, most of the time. But the events of the last month have called our nation’s convictions into question and provided a sober reality check that Australia is not as safe from human rights abuses as we might suppose.
Draconian lockdowns in our two biggest cities, sweeping vaccination mandates rendering hundreds of thousands jobless, and shocking police brutality on the streets of Melbourne have sparked condemnation from international media, foreign MPs and protesters.
When Will Someone Hold Human-Rights Hearings on Australia? the National Review asked last week. Melbourne Police Fire Large Projectiles, Pepper Balls at Protesters on 3rd Day of Demonstrations, reported the Epoch Times after last month’s horrendous crackdown in Victoria. Even the staunchly progressive Atlantic has mourned that Australia Traded Away Too Much Liberty.
More recently, protesters gathered in New York, chanting, “Save Australia!” as they marched from Brooklyn to the Australian consulate in Manhattan. The American pro-freedom demonstrators gave speeches outside the consulate, with one declaring, “We’re holding the line for Australia, we support Australia!”
Last week also saw four Polish MPs give speeches outside the Australian embassy in Warsaw, condemning our island nation for depriving its citizens of their basic freedoms. “What is happening in Australia cannot be called democratic,” warned KoLiber MP Jakub Kulesza, who led the protest. He added:
Australian police oppress, harass and attack peaceful citizens depriving them of their fundamental freedoms … How much freedom has been lost in Australia can be seen in how the police, with great brutality, suppress protests, and aggression against citizens…
We want to warn the people of Poland and prevent it from happening here. [We don’t want to see] our government follow the example of Australian authorities, and here [in front of] the Australian embassy we are protesting against such behaviour.
The level of concern being expressed around the world for our nation will seem like an overreaction for any Australia who has been relying on the corporate press for their news.
Legacy media outlets have almost universally overstated the threat of Covid-19. Mainstream reporters have reserved their harshest interrogations for government officials whose Covid restrictions don’t go “far enough”.
With few exceptions, reporters have framed medically-coerced protesters as uniquely antagonistic. Media outlets uncritically repeated wild claims that the Melbourne protests were either staged or co-opted by “far-right” actors and neo-Nazis, though any proof of this is yet to be produced.
The public was also shielded from the worst of the footage that emerged from that bleak week in Victoria. For an idea of how violent it was, YouTube provides a warning label on one particular video montage: The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
(If you are unable to view the video on YouTube, you can access it on Rumble here).
Writing for the Spectator Australia, decorated academic and former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ramesh Thakur, describes the montage as
a telling video juxtaposing Morrison’s words to the UN with images of police beating up protesters, crash tackling a man engaged in a conversation with officers to the hard pavement, knocking a 74-year old woman to the ground and pepper spraying her and handcuffing a pyjama-clad, pregnant and clearly frightened woman in the presence of her family during a dawn raid.
Thakur, who is based at the Australian National University in Canberra as Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, mourns the lack of leadership shown by Australia’s Prime Minister:
He is the only democratic leader to have imprisoned citizens (but not ministers and celebrities) in the world’s biggest open-air penal colony and to have threatened citizens attempting to come home from Covid-ravaged India with hefty fines and even imprisonment, very likely against international human rights law.
The protests in Melbourne especially should have drawn Scott Morrison’s condemnation. Instead, the Prime Minister reserved his words of judgment for the protesting tradies who were rendered jobless by Premier Dan Andrews’ harsh medical mandates.
The violence was almost entirely instigated by Victoria Police, who were intent on punishing otherwise law-abiding Australian citizens for what amounted to political crimes—that is, holding political opinions that threatened the government’s power and political narrative.
If you disagree with this assessment, consider that when over ten thousand people gathered at last year’s illegal Black Lives Matter protests, Victoria Police not only let the protests go ahead; many officers got down on bended knee to show support for the cause.
Moreover, to this day, there is scant evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted outdoors. It is therefore implausible that virus containment has been the overriding concern of Victoria Police’s partisan leadership. If they had let the tradies protest in peace just like last year, everyone would have gone home in peace.
With parliaments suspended and new rules being dictated daily at press conferences, Australia’s political leaders have deprived its citizens of their freedom of movement, assembly, religion and the right to work. These freedoms are now being traded back to us piecemeal in exchange for medical compliance. But freedom that can be traded for compliance is no freedom at all.
The only just, safe and equitable solution to Australia’s present human rights abuses is a return to the rule of law. Australia’s citizens must demand the repeal of all emergency declarations as soon as is feasibly possible, and the restoration of normal parliamentary democracy. (A safe and sensible roadmap out of lockdowns has been proposed by Ramesh Thakur here).
Until this takes place, our leaders will not act with sufficient accountability, and we can only expect further proof of the age-old proverb that power corrupts.