印度疫情成為了全球關注。新冠病毒在這個接近14億人口的國家不受控制地爆發, 每天40萬人受感染, 超過3500人死亡, 實際情況可能更嚴重。全球國家包括澳洲在內, 都極力把醫療資源送往印度去支援那裏的病人。澳洲因為實施防止病毒進入澳洲本土, 一直以來都實施隔離政策, 更特別暫時停止了從印度來的航班。這本來是無可厚非的事, 不過連澳洲公民也不能從印度回來, 甚至要把違反禁令的公民監禁, 追究刑事責任, 引來了不少關注, 因為這政策侵犯了澳洲公民的基本權利。
在去年初新冠疫情爆發最初期, 澳洲也禁止從中國來的旅客航班, 那時大家對新冠病毒不甚瞭解, 不過大部份國民都沒有很強烈的反對聲音。現時澳洲只容許公民回國及獲特殊准許的人入境, 也沒有人覺得是種族歧視。不過現時單單禁止在印度的澳洲公民回來澳洲, 有人會認為這是對大多數印裔澳洲公民的歧視 。
是的, 印度疫情告急, 政府是可以要求從印度回來的國民進行更長時期的隔離檢疫, 確保他們不會影響澳洲本土居民。但以禁止登陸澳洲, 更視為刑事行為, 則明顯是侵犯了這些人的公民權利。我們在這裏呼籲聯邦政府改正這錯誤的政策, 並向印裔公民致歉。
在新冠疫情爆發初期, 不少國家都派出專機或是提供特別安排, 把受困於外地的僑民撤回本國, 澳洲也曾作出相似的安排。現時仍有數萬澳洲人因為機位昂貴及需要自費進行隔離檢疫或暫時無法回國, 但至少一定需要回來的澳洲公民, 都不會被拒絕。是的, 為保護其他在澳洲人, 聯邦政府絕對有權力要求這些要回來的人不能影響別人的安全, 但卻沒有權力拒絕他們的回來。
按人口比例, 巴西、匈牙利、巴林等地每天新增感染個案以百萬人口計算, 都比印度為高, 可以說比從這些國家來人, 比從印度回來人士有更高風險。因此, 現時的政策明顯是不科學及不合理, 沒有仔細想清楚就實施, 討好擔心澳洲會受到影響的人。這一些因著爭取人民支持而侵犯人民權利的政策, 聯邦政府一定要正視並矯正過來。
Federal government to stop irrational policy
Covid outbreak in India has been alarming. The reported daily infection rate in this 1.4-billion nation is 400,000 with a fatality of 3,500. Medical supplies from around the world including Australia are rushing in. Australian policy in containing the virus has been border closure so all flights from India has been halted. But even Australian citizens are denied entry to the extent of prosecuting them to jails is debatable as it violates basic civil right.
In early 2020 when the pandemic began flights from China were also banned, with not much noise from the public on this uncertain disease. When Australia only allowed nationals and people granted with special approval to enter, nobody would see that as racism. But for now if only Australians from India cannot be allowed to come home, then people would say this is unfair to Indian Australians.
The government certainly can impose longer quarantine period for nationals coming back from India in an acute situation. But blocking their entry cited as illegal is against their civil right. We urge the Australian government to quit this inappropriate policy and apologise to the Indian community.
At the beginning of the pandemic many countries including Australia made special arrangement such as charted flights to bring back nationals stranded overseas. There are still tens of thousands Australian nationals who could not come back due to very high costs of airfare and hotel quarantine, but not because they were not allowed to. The government has the right to make sure these returnees would not put other Australians at risk but not the right to deny entry.
In terms of daily infection per million of population there are some countries like Brazil, Hungary, Bahrain higher than India thus with a higher risk. So this policy obviously is unscientific and irrational, not well thought through but just to please those who worry to be affected. This is a unacceptable policy aimed to gain people support by neglecting human right.
Raymond Chow, Publisher