The coronavirus pandemic was an extremely unexpected issue that has caused a lot of chaos in a variety of countries. Due to the citizens’ heavy reliance on government,the powers of democratic regimes further expanded their authority over the situation and settled the panic. However, some countries took advantage of the difficult circumstances and used this pandemic to further entrench their power and reduce the freedom of their citizens. Many leaders worldwide have fallen back to authoritarian methods to seize control of their country, through limiting the freedom of speech and press. Some countries that have proven to take full advantage of challenging times are the Philippines and Hungary.
In the Philippines, the government has been accused by the Human Rights Watch of committing abuses to citizen rights while the country was in a national lockdown. Citizens of the Philippines have been subject to inhumane methods of punishment when it came to rebelling or breaking national lockdown rules (Keating, 2020). Instances of these atrocious accidents include youths being caged in dog cages because of violating the curfew and being killed by police for attempting to avoid a checkpoint. Although these human rights violations occurred before the virus had struck, this pandemic has only strengthened the corrupt government’s authority. According to Aljazeera, the Philippine president, Duterte, warned citizens when they attempted to protest because of the lack of food during the coronavirus crisis. Duterte strictly told his military to “shoot them dead” if they cause “trouble” and backed up with an excuse, the coronavirus pandemic. It may seem logical, especially because the country is attempting to combat the spread of this virus, however the only reason this protest was taking place was because people who were not “well-off” were not receiving food packages to last them through lockdown. "We are here to call for help because of hunger. We have not been given food, rice, groceries or cash. We have no work. Who do we turn to," Jocy Lopez said before being arrested. The virus has just provided another excuse for the Philippine government to use when arresting or killing innocent people.
Another example of a country in which the government has taken full advantage of the pandemic is in Hungary. In Hungary, the ultranationalist president, Viktor Orbán, has taken the extreme measure to submit a law to Parliament that allowed him to rule by decree, which allows him to arbitrarily edit law, without approval by a legislative assembly, under the name of “public health”. Any activity that could be seen as creating “confusion, harm, or unrest” in society could cause the person to be sentenced to three to five years in jail (Keating, 2020). However, this wasn’t the first time the Hungarian president took measures to be able to have full control of the country. According to BBC News, he also did this during the European refugee crisis, which was a period of time when an immense number of people arrived in Europe overseas lasting until March 2019. During times of difficulty, this president has proven that he takes advantage in order to fully be able to have control over this regime.
Since so many different countries had governments who have been taking advantage of this pandemic to be able to extend their authority to extreme extents, including punishments of citizens for rebelling and removing freedom of speech and press. Since many countries have been resorting to authoritarian methods to be able to further gain control of their country. Although people are attempting to combat the COVID-19 virus, it seems as though we have a political “virus” or obstacle that we will have to continue to overcome, even far past the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
Keating, Joshua. "Strongman Medicine: Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus Crisis?" Slate, 27 Mar.
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"Migrant Crisis: Migration to Europe Explained in Seven Charts." BBC News, 4 Mar. 2016,
www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911. Accessed 15 June 2020.
"'Shoot Them Dead': Duterte Warns against Violating Lockdown." Aljazeera, 1 Apr. 2020,
200401164531160.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links. Accessed 15 June 2020.