Monday, October 19, 2020
Home Europe Covid: Australian anti-lockdown suspect's arrest draws controversy

Covid: Australian anti-lockdown suspect’s arrest draws controversy

4 hours ago

image copyrightFACEBOOK

image captionPolice arrested Zoe-Lee Buhler in her home for posting about an anti-lockdown protest online

The arrest of a woman in Australia for promoting an anti-lockdown protest online has drawn criticism, after video of the incident went viral.

Footage shows officers handcuffing pregnant woman Zoe-Lee Buhler, 28, in her home in Victoria on Wednesday in front of her partner and children.

She starts crying during the arrest, telling police: “I didn’t realise I was doing anything wrong.”

Authorities have defended the officers, saying they acted appropriately.

Victoria has been in lockdown since July to curb a coronavirus outbreak that has fuelled Australia’s second wave.

Authorities have imposed stay-at-home rules and a curfew in Melbourne, the state capital. The lockdown has closed many businesses and banned gatherings around the state.

Many people support the measures but others oppose them, and they have been targeted by a fringe anti-lockdown movement.

Last week Victoria Police warned it would arrest people for organising protests in breach of the ban on gatherings.

What happened?

The video – which was live-streamed on Facebook and has been viewed over two million times – shows Ms Buhler and her partner speaking to police in their home in the city of Ballarat. The Victoria Police officers are seen with a warrant.

When asked what the arrest is about, one officer says: “It’s in relation to a Facebook post, in relation to a lockdown protest you put on just that day.”

image copyrightFACEBOOK

image captionMs Buhler was arrested in front of her family

Ms Buhler, who is wearing pyjamas, then offers to delete her post.

“My two kids are here – I have an ultrasound in an hour,” she says. “This is ridiculous… I didn’t realise I was doing anything wrong.”

But the officers respond by telling her she has been charged with “incitement” over a planned protest in Ballarat on Saturday. The event is part of wider anti-lockdown rallies.

What’s been the response?

State Premier Daniel Andrews defended the arrest, saying protests undermined public health efforts.

“Now is not the time to protest about anything. Because to do so is not safe,” he said on Thursday.

Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius added: “[I’m] outraged to say there are still people in our community who think it’s a good idea at the time of this deadly pandemic to leave home and protest.”

image copyrightEPA

image captionPolice patrol Melbourne’s streets during lockdown

But the incident has been criticised by human rights activists and opposition lawmakers on the left and right of politics.

“Arresting people pre-emptively for the act of organising peaceful protests or for social media posts is something that happens all too often under authoritarian regimes, and it should not be happening in a democracy like Australia,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.

Critics also warned that it could further stoke anti-lockdown sentiment or conspiracy theories, noting the video had been shared among groups in Australia and the US.

Such groups have alleged, often incorrectly, that lockdown measures infringe human rights.

How tough has Victoria’s lockdown been?

Individuals can face fines of A$1,652 (£910; $1,210) for breaking restrictions, or imprisonment for serious breaches.

The lockdown has worked to slow the virus – Victoria has recorded below 100 cases on most days this week, compared to over 700 during the peak in August.

Supporters say the police enforcement measures have been necessary to this success.

But civil liberties activists have argued Victoria’s restrictions are among the harshest seen in Western democracies.

They have also disproportionately affected poorer and more ethnically diverse communities, advocates say.

media captionMelbourne tower lockdown ‘like being in prison’

Under the current lockdown most residents are only allowed outside for an hour per day.

The state government has warned the lockdown may extend beyond 13 September, its scheduled finish date.

Australia has recorded 678 deaths and more than 26,000 cases.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Ryder Cup 2010

McDowell knew the Twenty Ten course like the back of his hand. He’d won the Wales Open on the course that year and during a period when he lived in Cardiff he used the venue as his practice area.As the match descended into the home stretch McDowell sunk a 15-foot birdie to go 2-up on…

GB’s Evans calls opponents ’embarrassing’

Evans was knocked out in the singles in the first round by Kei Nishikori of JapanBritain's Dan Evans said his doubles opponents were "embarrassing" after becoming involved in an on-court row at the French Open.The British singles number one and Polish partner Hubert Hurkacz beat Dutchman Matwe Middelkoop and Brazilian Marcel Demoliner in the first…

US team walks off after ‘homophobic slur’

Collin Martin (pictured playing for former club Minnesota United) came out as gay in 2018Landon Donovan said his San Diego Loyal "would not stand" for bigotry having left the pitch in protest after an alleged homophobic comment was aimed at openly gay midfielder Collin Martin.An opposition player from Phoenix Rising was accused of making the…

As colleges reopened, many more young people got covid-19, CDC reports – msnNOW

Covid-19 cases surged nationally among 18- to 22-year-olds between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged young adults as well as colleges and universities to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.Weekly cases among the age group jumped 55…