The member unions of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles raise our voices against the restriction of liberties that States are pursuing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic through legislation and State propaganda.
The coronavirus pandemic has evidenced the lack of a public health system capable of providing universal care. However, capitalism’s only response, after years of benefiting from the privatisation of health care systems, has been to impose a state of emergency to limit freedom of movement and to militarise the streets.
Another arbitrary measure has been the implementation of further means for social control and population surveillance. That is the case of cyber-patrolling in Argentina, which resorts to data collected from mobile phones and social networks to amplify the State’s repressive capacity. At the same time, homicidal police repression has not stopped, as evidence by the killings of George Floyd in the US and João Pedro in Brasil.
Moreover, States have continued to privilege repression before the exceptional health measures for refugee camps and prisons that the pandemic requires. Today more than 70 million people have been forced to abandon their homes. 29 million of them are refugees, most of them living in overcrowded concentration camps in which their freedom of movement is limited, or are even held in prison, such as the 37.000 people that have been arrested by the US ICE. Entire populations continued to live in open air prisons, such as the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Uyghurs in re-education camps in Xinjian, and the Kashmir population under military occupation.
There are activists in prison, such as the 173 members of Hirak in Argelia, the 2.500 “front-line” fighters of the Chilean revolution, the 4.5000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, the Kurds in Turkish prisons, the activists in prisons in Egypt and Iran. The governments of some of these countries have granted provisional release to prisoners as long as they are not activists and fighters.
Recently, the Uruguayan State arrested the union organiser Sebastián Romero, who together with two Argentinian activists is being processed for taking part in protests against the reform of pensions in December 2017.
We, the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles, denounce the lack of funding for health services and the lack of personnel in public services that are essential for the maintenance of life. If adequate preventive measures against the transmission of coronavirus were adopted, there would be no reasons to limit freedom of movement, implement further social control and curtail fundamental rights such as those of assembly, expression, and protest. Arms manufacturers have continued producing, transporting and selling their weapons during the pandemic. Governments throughout the world, regardless of their political affiliation, have permitted this while at the same time limiting civic liberties and legitimising the presence of the armies in the streets and the repression of their peoples. Governments and media have used the language of war to talk about the pandemic. They have normalised wars and the need for the military, restricting provisional release to activists in prison. What we really need are public services, public research and quality hiring for those services that are essential for life, such as health care, education, and transport.
Similarly, companies have promoted tele-working at the expense of the workers’ own computing resources, thus implementing computerised control systems on our private life. They now want us to install software to control our health and movement, as in Russia and China, referring to the need to prevent a further spread of the pandemic to justify this. What they are really doing is normalising State control on our lives, our private life, our free time.
We, the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles, denounce State repression against the lowest-income sector of the population, those who live on street selling and have had to breach the lockdown in search for food to live due to the states’ inability to guarantee a basic income for them. State repression is classist, racist, and has concentrated on indigenous, black, and marginalised populations, those excluded by the wheel of capitalism.
We stand against State repression !
No pandemic justifies the curtailing of fundamental rights !
We stand for a public universal healthcare system, for a basic income for all, for life.
We stand in solidarity with workers fighting for rights and social justice all over the world