The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

Human rights

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 4 March 2021, 07:52 Last update: about 2 months ago

One of the claims that have been made since the Covid-19 pandemic struck and which seemed to me to be rather curious went as follows: Measures introduced by governments to keep people at home and not go out have been more than excessive. They amount to an assault on human rights. Such rights emphasize that people have the full liberty to gather in streets, by the seaside or at whichever public place they choose, to participate in disputes, relax, indulge in personal display and socialise freely. Cutting off these activities abruptly is an abuse of the fundamental freedoms.

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In a number of European capitals this claim has been deployed as a reason... or perhaps better as an excuse... for people to incite riots against police squads out to enforce the orders for people to stay at home.

One would have understood these clashes as comprehensible were European states authoritarian... but one can hardly believe that this is so. Moreover it is difficult to have any doubts about the real existence of the pandemic. It does not form part of the repressive apparatus of any European state.

Clearly, claims based on human rights considerations are simply abusive.

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SARKOZY

The news that in Paris the courts have found former President Nicholas Sarkozy guilty of abuse of power and corruption by the courts shocked many. Sarkozy was sentenced to at least a year in prison... though apparently he was given the option of spending it under house arrest.

His predecessors too had their trouble with police investigators... ex-President Chirac was also hauled before the courts and found guilty... though over infractions committed before he became French president. This time, guilt was attached to actions undertaken from the French Presidency.

Not so long ago, another scandal revolved around ex-Prime Minister Francois Fillon who, it was discovered, had been for many years, extracting hundreds of thousands of euros from the French Treasury in order to pay his wife and other relatives for fictitious jobs they were supposedly doing.

Naturally, this kind of scandal serves to undermine the trust that citizens may have had in their government and its leadershhip.

Still the fact that abuses are investigated down to the bitter end, even if years would have passed by then, might serve to give citizens the trust they would have lost.

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ROCK OPERAS

Many years ago, so-called rock operas used to be popular, in an imported format as well as when they were Malta-based and indeed produced in Maltese.

I remember the shows that my comrades and I used to launch at the Argotti Gardens in Floriana, in Maltese works that would mainly be based on “historical” Maltese themes, but not only.

I do not know what has since replaced that kind of entertainment. It used to attract – perhaps best be quite clear about this – mainly middleaged or older people even if then by contrast, young people would be competing with each other for a role on or backstage. The audience would be largely working class.

Where have those audiences gone? How are they finding space for their  kind of recreation in the circumstances that prevail now?

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