A University of British of Columbia graduate imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for women’s activism has had her case moved to a court specializing in terrorism last week. She could face up 20 years in prison for advocating for women’s rights. She has been in detained for two years and has allegedly faced long periods of solitary confinement and torture.
Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are three million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year. The practice of female circumcision is often done without a medical reason, hygiene procedures or pain killers. While this practice is illegal in most countries, it is still carried out against a girl’s will and is often considered a pre-requisite for marriage and done to enhance male pleasure.
Earlier this year, law enforcement authorities across Russia dramatically escalated the nationwide persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Meanwhile, in China, there is a campaign against Uyghur women, men, and children, and members of other Turkic Muslim minority groups. There have been documented human rights abuses including coercive population control methods, forced labour, arbitrary detention in internment camps, torture, physical and sexual abuse, and repression of cultural and religious expression.
These are acts against someone’s rights and freedoms. These are human rights issues. Being asked to wear a small piece of fabric over your face when entering a store, is not. It pales in comparison.
Yes, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects a number of rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and the right to equality. But when public health officials force you to wear a mask when doing things that you shouldn’t take for granted in the first place, like grocery shopping or banking, pulling the anti-freedom card seems silly.
If the experts are right and wearing a mask may save a life, it is worth it. If the experts are wrong and wearing a mask does nothing, you’ve been slightly inconvenienced by wearing a mask for couple of months in public. Those are odds I’m willing to take.
I’m not calling out those that can’t wear masks. There are medical reasons why someone can’t. We need to be compassionate towards those people. I’m calling out those that can wear one and not only chose not to, but call it a government conspiracy.
All levels of governments have laws to keep us safe. People are required to wear their seat belts, drive a certain speed limit and avoid getting behind the wheel when intoxicated. These laws keep not only individuals safe but the community safe as well. It is the same with wearing a mask.
Our local RCMP members have better things to do than get called into a bank on a Saturday morning and escort someone out for not wearing a mask.
History won’t remember the anti-maskers protesting their rights as freedom fighters. Children today won’t look back when they are adults and thank you for protesting against wearing a mask.
This has been a weird year. We’ve been asked to do things we don’t normally do, or are comfortable with. Many of us have lost loved ones or been hit hard economically and a lot of us have been through the wringer.
But there won’t be some magical switch at the stroke of midnight on the 31st that will make all the bad things about 2020 go away. We are all still in this together. Let’s act like it. Let’s make 2021 a better year. Everyone can do their part to help rid the world of this pandemic.