Quartz Africa editor Yinka Adegoke recently penned an astute little essay on the universality of pandemics. “I’m getting messages from friends in London, Madrid, Lagos and other places, who are reading news reports and asking if we’re okay because we’re in New York,” he said. “But I’m thinking the same about them. It’s something about the psychology of fear and how we transfer it onto others.”
Quartz editorialised that it is indeed riveting “how a pandemic both cements and renders moot our physical distance from one another. Friends in New York and London, Lagos and Madrid can be stuck thousands of miles apart, but are going through variations of the same experience. The fear is global, but so is the community. It’s an unfortunate but not entirely unpleasant camaraderie, like being trapped in a broken elevator with the whole planet.”
In this issue of India Legal, we devote an entire package, written and compiled by some of the best in the business, of the multi-faceted elements of this scourge as it descends on the huddled multitudes of India.
There is still debate on whether the miasma permeating the subcontinent is the malodorous stench of a community spread yet to manifest its true diabolical spread. Every second, across the globe, we are losing people we love to COVID-19 —from New York to Milan to Tehran.
I mention Tehran with the deepest sorrow because in this hour of humanity’s collective grief, when countless thousands of jobless working class Indians are being turned into hungry refugees in their own land as they trek hundreds of miles to find succour and shelter as the more affluent cities shut them out, Iran too, suffers egregiously.
India and Iran are civilisational countries with a richly shared past, heritage and culture. Today our sister nation, suffering the worst ravages of the shared pandemic, and in need of the warmth and friendship of us all, is sought to be isolated by US President Donald Trump politically and economically.
An international effort is now underway through a mass online petition being circulated by “Win Without War” that deserves the support of the world community. The organisation was founded in 2002 in opposition to the impending American invasion of Iraq. The coalition was previously run by former US Representative Thomas Andrews (D-ME), and its current director is grassroots advocate Steven Miles.
The petition says:
- While people everywhere scramble to self-isolate, patch together emergency medical supplies, protect workers, and care for our loved ones, 80 MILLION Iranians are facing an even greater barrier to being able to respond: US Sanctions.
- US sanctions on Iran severely restrict life-saving medical supplies, including COVID-19 emergency medical relief like protective gear and ventilators. Even with exemptions for humanitarian aid, companies are not able to navigate complex regulations in order to get the aid in. And it’s predicted that if more is not done to slow the spread of the virus, such as lifting sanctions strangling Iran’s economy, at least 3.5 million people in Iran will die of COVID-19.
- That’s why a group of representatives, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just dropped a bicameral letter in Congress calling on Secretaries Mnuchin and Pompeo to suspend sanctions on Iran for 120 days. They plan to deliver it to Secs. Mnuchin and Pompeo. We don’t have much time—will you urge your members of Congress. Temporary suspension of sanctions on Iran isn’t just an idealistic dream. We’ve already seen it happen before.
- During both the Bush and Obama administrations, sanctions were temporarily suspended to allow emergency relief in after devastating earthquakes. And today’s coronavirus pandemic is likewise an undeniable EMERGENCY. That’s why in response to today’s emergency, we should once again reach across borders, and take care of each other.
- Luckily there are more and more stories in the press on the impacts of US sanctions on the Iranian COVID-19 response. If we can get members of Congress to add their voices to this building momentum today, we can create pressure from all sides to push Secretary Mnuchin to do so.
- Let’s be real, right now things are hard, everywhere. But you are not alone in your fear, or your heartbreak right now. And it’s important, now more than ever, that we continue to come together, to take care of each other across the street, across the country, and across the world. Today let’s reach across borders and say loud and clear: You are not alone in this.
Lead picture: UNI