“The Brussels Diary with Yana Toom”: Abolished Human Rights


The world is heading towards a complete quarantine. The UK, the US and Russia are already surrendering. The adoption of stringent restrictions in Estonia is only a matter of days.

We know that coronavirus kills more people than the common flu, and this on an average. The prospects of the elderly, poor and ill are a lot worse. Therefore, no one is protected – and often we learn too late about our afflictions.

This is the reason for the extremely strict measures. Any measures. According to China᾿s Red Cross, even the steps taken in Italy are too soft to stop the epidemic. In China, the measures were simple and scary: the police stormed into your house, measured your temperature and if a person had temperature, the whole family was forcefully taken to a hospital, despite their screaming and tears. Nobody was interested in protecting human rights. I dread to think what the Chinese would have done to those of us who continued going to parties.

However, when the same Italy is losing one life every two minutes, human rights are put on the back burner. In the words of the Prime Minister of Greece: ‘I will not allow a careless minority threaten the safety of the majority’.

Greece introduced a lockdown on Monday: people may leave their homes only to go to work, to a shop or to visit a doctor; they may also walk their dog or go for a run, but only a maximum two people together. Keep in mind that the number of identified cases in Greece is four times smaller compared to our numbers. The rate at which this virus is spreading is such that the only hope is on restrictions. In Italy, thanks to these measures, the fatality rate is already decreasing.

In order not to cause more trouble, we have to stay home, if possible. Otherwise, we risk contracting this virus, dying and becoming murderers. The UK government was late with their response and the experts say that the country will lose from 35,000 to 70,000 people this year. Think about these numbers.

A massive upheaval like the current crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. The Hungarian Prime Minister is using the situation to gain unlimited powers. While the Chinese gift Italy masks and medical equipment, the Czechs confiscate all. Then they apologise and send a shipment of masks, but the bitter aftertaste remains. To say that this situation is a test on the solidarity in the European Union is an understatement. The truth is that today everyone is fighting for oneself, although the EU is doing what it can. There is not much that the EU can do, as for many years we have forbidden the EU to do more than simply safeguard our sovereignty.

I repeat that any extreme measure is justified. If you want to live, you will do anything it takes. Restricted rights must be reversible. Once the epidemic is over, human rights must be restored. What I am afraid of is that in the months of fear we will get used to and began liking firm policy. Strict political regulation is always easier and more convenient than a reasonable economy. Strict measures only alleviate the symptoms of a disease and we need a medicine.

Please, stay well, and we will meet again next week.