No, we don’t need a pandemic amnesty – but how about some accountability?

The unvaccinated were treated with a pathological level of cruelty.

A few days ago an article appeared in The Atlantic calling for a pandemic amnesty claiming those that went along with the hysteria and discrimination of that period only did so because they ‘didn’t know any better at the time’. 

The proposed amnesty is supposed to call for a ceasefire of sorts for the wounds inflicted – let’s face it – on those of us who refused to be swept up in the hysteria of it all. 

We all now know that covid 19 in most cases is manageable for those of us who do not have serious underlying conditions. In my own experience, it was like a cold of moderate severity. 

With that said, I think two years was more than enough time for anyone willing to pull their eyes and ears away from RTE, or whatever other relevant media outlet,  for long enough to realise pretty early on that covid never was a ‘deadly pandemic’.

The purpose of this article is not to examine the virulence of the virus, but nevertheless I thought it necessary to give that brief summary. 

I think it’s beyond cheeky – scandalous in fact – for anyone who was on the giving end of the abuses inflicted on many of us – be it because we didn’t want to wear masks,go along with ridiculous standards of social distancing, or get a covid vaccine – to ask for an amnesty. 

The facts of the matter are that the unvaccinated were treated like a subclass of humanity. 

The thought that people were denied access to basic goods and services, and in some cases physically and verbally abused, based on a medical decision is nightmarish to think back on. 

I am not a person who bends easily to social pressure, I have little desire to be liked or accepted if that acceptance is based on some predetermined conditions I need to meet, even so, being treated like a biohazard when I am perfectly healthy was horrific.  

Last November I received a phone call from a close family member informing me that my father had been diagnosed with stage four bone cancer and that – best case scenario – he had about 2 years left. 

I was living in South Korea at the time and immediately promised to make the necessary arrangements to visit my father who was living in Karachi, Pakistan – his native country. 

My employment contract hadn’t long left so I considered visiting Pakistan over the Christmas break first, and later staying for a longer period to spend time with him. 

Before his cancer diagnosis one of my cousins told me he would be so happy to see me that he might just get better. She didn’t understand how sick he was of course. 

Although the child of a Pakistani national, as a foreign passport holder I need a visa to enter Pakistan. As I was arranging to apply for one I realised that the Pakistani government had just banned all unvaccinated people from entering the country. 

I assumed this would not apply to me as I had recently recovered from covid 19 and had a certificate from the Korean Government confirming my status of natural immunity. 

Like in the United States, the Pakistani authorities refused to acknowledge my immunity.

During a phone call with the Pakistani embassy in Seoul – in which I explained that my father was terminally ill, I was simply told to take the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as it was ‘only one’ shot. 

Why would I take an inoculation for something I was already certifiably immune to? 

At this stage I felt that the authorities cared more about people getting vaccinated than the actual science of viral spread. 

The subsequent revelations about the poor effectiveness of the vaccines is something I don’t want to think about too much as it compounds on the irreversible injury that was inflicted on me and – as I am all too keenly aware – many others. 

I decided to apply for a Pakistani passport knowing I could not be refused entry as a citizen- I did after all want to stay with dad for a longer time – so it made sense. 

While my cousins were preparing the necessary documents from their end Christmas rolled around. On Christmas Eve around 11pm I received a video call from my cousin Siraj. 

When I saw his face I already knew what he would say. My dad has just passed away. 

I would have been there with him had I been allowed to enter the country. 

I don’t know if those who participated in the inhumane treatment of unvaccinated people – in my case regardless of immunity status – realise what their actions, or their acceptance and silence cost so many of us. 

I doubt many of them will ever realise what it feels like to be needlessly prevented from holding the hand of a dying loved one, and experiencing those last precious moments with them. 

No amnesty or apology (which hasn’t been offered) will ever make what we suffered go away. 

As far as I’m concerned they’ll have to find another way to feel better about what they’ve caused. 

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