As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, and communities seek to protect themselves however they can, governments are being challenged to respond. While the vast majority of governments have not done well in initial responses, some have been transparent, direct and engaged with their citizens – and the global community. Others, particularly those with authoritarian features or tendencies, are engaged in responding to the crisis that puts political and economic interests out front, crafting policy and decree accordingly. The declaration of emergency rule in too many countries only solidifies what was already there in practice, and leaves many people scared not only of the virus itself, but what may come next when life returns to what we now call normal.
Human rights defenders are responding to these challenges, as they always do – by working hard, reaching out to their communities, identifying those who are struggling or are in need or who have been left out, and trying to help. They are calling out government abuse and excess and finding new ways to communicate with each other and the outside world to challenge power.
Today, Front Line Defenders relaunches its ‘Rights on the Line’ podcast, to offer another platform for the voices, perspectives and experiences of human rights defenders at risk and leading struggles for the health, wellbeing and rights of their communities.
In this episode, Front Line Defenders speaks to Al-Shabaka's Senior Policy Fellow Yara Hawari from Palestine about the consequences of the pandemic for a population under military occupation: