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Identity is a word that has become alien, foreign and it no longer exists for the Muslims of the Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.


As anyone would have it, freedom is a fundamental human right, a need, such that it is not even regarded as one; freedom is an act, a principle, and becomes a way of life. Sadly, Uyghur Muslims are being stripped of something no human being should ever need to fight for, let alone survive.


Since 2014, the Chinese Government has persecuted honest civilians, detaining them against their wills, trying to ‘convert’ their Islamic principles and practices into an indoctrinated totalitarianism dogma, and they spare no mercy or extents to achieve this enslavement.


The world knows what is happening to them. The world is aware. But as usual, because the face of the oppressed are Muslim, nobody cares, and unfortunately, it seems, other Muslim countries are also choosing to turn a blind eye.


Why is it like this? Of course. Fear. Prejudice. Discrimination. Power. Capitalism. These truly are the roots of all evil, and they have infested their ways into the vines of justice and moral, no, rather human integrity. Humanity.


Popularised by Western media, we have become conditioned to view Islam and Muslims in one negative position, so it is a given that changing the narrative of stigmatised terrorists and oppressors to now vulnerable, terrified, and helpless victims is a nuance that modern society is neither comfortable nor do they want to catch up with. Is this a matter of when they are ready? Or simply that they refuse to? Seeing reality in a different narrative, might I say, is at the precipice of all the requiems of our dreams, or, I suppose, our nightmares.




It is important to lose these paradigms because the reality is that as we sit here, comfortably, enjoying our Ramadans, our Eids, our life, there are over one million lost brothers and sisters of humanity, who have disappeared from the lights of earth and are being tormented under the darkness of dictatorship, though they, and other allied nations, will state otherwise. If this is not a form of terrorism and genocide, then what is?


And such double standards and hypocrisies are well-known for the Muslim community. Let us move to Rohingya. Muslims there are being killed and raped, again, for the same claims of cleaning individualism and the freedom from religious beliefs that come with it, by indoctrinating a symmetric-like state, and this is being done by Buddhists of Myanmar, once again, another socially induced perspective of goodness and light, and that is not to say, that peaceful Buddhists and the asceticism of Buddhism are not but goodness, peace, and harmony, in fact, it very much is, but this is the hypocrisy I am talking about. There is no race, no face, no religion, and not even a mind or age to violence, crimes, terrorism, evil, oppression. Negativity, as with positivity, are transparent modes and know no boundaries or bases. They can never have them. This is a societal conditioned matter. Yet, the same idealisms of our societies consciously endeavour to create new realms of yin-yang that simply cannot exist.


The world has yet again chosen to plead the fifth: evoke silence over the injustices that so many Muslim communities are facing, rather than to stand with them in solidarity, condemning inhumanity just as they are so keen to do so when the support seems to be in their honourable and dignified favours. Between Rohingya, Kashmir, Gaza, and Uyghur, the oppression these Muslim people face is of but two variables: ignorance versus discrimination. Especially in the Western world and other parts of the globe that have become influenced by such norms, values, and ideologies. We have become conditioned to see one party as one way and one party as another. As a result, double standards will never cease to poison economic and political legitimacies. We are hushed over the crises happening to Rohingyas because they are Muslim; likewise, we plug bullets into our ears over the education reformation camps in Uyghur, again, because they are Muslim. This constant bias and double standards will continue, something Palestine and the torment of Gaza civilians have known since 1948; had it been a Muslim community usurping another nation, the whole world would be in tears. Words truly do hold such depth; had it not been for such atrocities, I might have pleaded the fifth, just like the rest. Remove ‘Muslim,’ and all that is left are humans. People. Perhaps the oppressed might have a better chance at hope had the whole world been truly blind. Sightless. Leaving the foundations of empathy to pave the way toward genuine unity and compassion.


This article is transparent, as I intend. It is time human beings stripped ego and called a spade a spade when it is blatant. We pick and choose like supermarkets; hence, man is fundamentally the reason for any, if not all, issues in the world, be that poverty, war, homelessness, gentrification, all of it.


Unless we do not endeavour to view the looking glass as transparently as that, clearly, with the way this pandemic and the political darkness this world seems apt to be heading toward, who knows, five years from now, we will see another horror. Maybe this time, it will be presented in an image we wish to accept; maybe it will not. But how many more inhumane crises need to happen for us to revert to our inner state of a child? When you see something bad and dislike it because it is bad, not these illogical, ironically enough, reasoning, we frost onto so many-layered ‘angel’ cakes, trying to justify quantum which cannot be justified?


I ask you when?


Because lest we forget, bad things can happen to us all; imagine it was us, well, I would hate for the rest of the world to play a fool to your problems. The truth?


Well, I guess it is just none of my business. Right?

By Marisa Paulson


Disclaimer: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Identity International.

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Vaccines have never become more controversial than now, with many people, alongside myself, wondering- will they be our saviours or our ruin in this pandemic?


My family in particular have always been conflicted over this issue, with certain members of my family identifying as hardcore anti-vaxxers whilst others are health professionals who get infuriated by these views. I, myself, as one who doesn’t have a particularly medical or scientific background tended to stuff my ears with cotton at the sound of these conversations, blissfully ignorant.


However, over the past year, especially as COVID-19 started to really hit hard in Australia, a huge dichotomy arose in my family where vaccination views now became integral to the country or even the world’s future? Therefore, I decided to plunge myself into understanding more about what it means to be an anti-vaxxer and why this controversy occurred and has lasted so long. Below is my brief and not systematic in any way, literature review for reflection.


In most of the scientific and medical research I came across, one message was pervaded loud and clear:

“Vaccines are one of the most effective measures of public health practice and prevention medicine, in protecting populations from infectious diseases. They have contributed to decreasing the rates of common childhood diseases and infant mortality” (reference here)

And, of course, the golden egg of public health intervention successes- the complete eradication of one of the most ancient and nastiest diseases, smallpox followed by a near-complete eradication of the paralysing disease, polio. You can read more here. Furthermore, sceptic attitudes towards vaccines are also not a novel, 21st century phenomenon, these movements have been around since the (known) invention of the first vaccine by Edward Jenner in 1796. A lot of the initial scepticism, in true Middle Age culture, was out of suspicions of witchcraft and other unholy affiliations. Much of this was because of the unexplained nature of why inoculation of a weak pathogen (infection-causing organism) in a human should give protection against further infections, in a culture reliant on prayers and herbal remedies after manifestation of disease, rather than before.


Since then, modern anti-vaccination sentiments have been related to three significant events;

  1. The Cutter Incident in 1955: Some batches of the Polio vaccine were actually contaminated with the live polio virus and for some reason weren’t quality checked before being distributed to the public, naturally creating an outbreak rather than protecting against one.

  2. The broadcasting of NBC’s “DPT: Vaccine Roulette” in 1982: A pseudo-scientific documentary which propagated anti-vaccination sentiments by discussing the controversy and all the suspected health risks of vaccines

  3. Ex-Dr Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s ‘research’ in 1998: The physician has since been struck off the medical register due to his research claiming unfounded conclusions that the MMR Vaccine was increasing autism in children. This is believed to be the reason behind the re-emergence of measles in the UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere over the past decade.


Since then, some of the main reasons cited for vaccine hesitancy are mercury content, autism association and vaccine danger, surprisingly the sensationalism of COVID-19 hasn’t dampened the surge in anti-vaccine searches. Some argue that anti-vaccination behaviours are a number one global health threat in the 21st century. A very interesting study by Huynh and Senger investigated the role of intellectual humility in vaccination sentiments and behaviours. They found that the level of humility in a person (using a multidimensional measure) significantly predicted their anti-vaccination attitudes in a negative correlation. Meaning that, hypothetically, the more intellectual humility one had, the less of an anti-vaxxer they are likely to be.


Misinformation and the spread of sensationalist fake news is a clear component. Results from a national survey of healthcare workers in Italy found that 7% (125 people) refused the vaccine because of lack of trust in vaccine safety (85%) and receiving little (78%) or conflicting (69%) information about vaccines. They also found that more education and awareness resources need to be spent on non-physician health workers to enable them to counter these hesitations effectively. Research in China highlighted the importance of access to vaccination information, especially from professional sources, as being key in working against vaccine hesitancy. Internal migrants are less likely to have access to this.


A survey conducted in 28 European countries, including the UK, deduced that there are three types of, I guess, vaccine identities;


“the skeptical type (approx. 11% of EU27-UK respondents) is defined by the belief that vaccines are rather ineffective, affected by risks of probable vaccine damage, not well-tested, and useless; the confident type (approx. 59%) is defined by beliefs that vaccines are effective, safe, well-tested, and useful; and the trade-off type (approx. 29%) combines beliefs that vaccines are effective, well-tested and useful, with beliefs of probable vaccine damage. The vaccine-confident and the trade-off types profess having similar vaccination histories, indicating the significant role of other factors besides beliefs in inducing behaviour.”

In light of recent events, conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine have ranged from falsely reporting deaths from the Oxford vaccine clinical trials to propositions that Bill Gates is utilising vaccine developments to microchip the population. Therefore, it doesn’t seem that we have come a long way over the past decade, in terms of trust in vaccinations, which I believe, is more of a reflection of how far we’ve come in terms of trust in our governments to care for our health.


Disclaimer: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Identity International.

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Well, it means to live in constant fear.


With the global spread of the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19), this novel virus has underscored the dire need to re-evaluate our healthcare systems globally. For the United States of America (USA), COVID-19 has not only highlighted the inadequacy of our health systems, but also in the many other systems that have made our country “great”.


Since the start of this public health crisis, the USA has suffered greatly with COVID-19, mainly due to the lack of leadership and transparency from the government. According to data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), the USA has >30,000,000 cases and >555,000 deaths due to COVID-19. (Dong, Du, and Gardner, 2020). With one of the world’s highest burden of this infectious disease, the USA has been made an example of what a country shouldn’t do during a pandemic.


For Black Americans in the USA, COVID-19 has been one of the many issues exacerbated by the structural discrimination we face, creating wider socioeconomic disparities and health inequities in comparison to more privileged populations (Williams and Rucker, 2000). In our enduring battles with racial discrimination, police brutality, redlining, environmental racism and more, being Black in America has always been full of strife and struggle.


With the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in the early months of 2020, it finally occurred to the world that racial bias against Black people is not just some made up concept.

With the demonstrations that took place across 50 states and around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 (a movement that started in 2013), it is as if the COVID-19 pandemic became the cherry on top of the icing to a poorly structured cake, representing the continuous and systematic oppression of Black and Brown communities in the USA. The ecosocial theory, as proposed by Nancy Krieger (2012), best explains how the embodiment of this oppression experienced over the life course adversely affects the health of these marginalized communities through social and economic deprivation.


The reality is that in the USA, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities are 3x times more likely to be exposed to COVID-19, be hospitalized due to COVID-19, and face mortality due to COVID-19 (Morial et al, 2020).


These specific communities of color are at an increased risk because of the socioeconomic deprivation they are faced with as marginalised populations.

As these racial/ethnic minority groups are more likely to leave the house to work as they take on essential worker roles ("frontline", grocery stores, transportation, etc.), live in crowded conditions/multigenerational households, etc., they are inevitably put at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 (Lopez, Hart, and Katz, 2021). Additionally, these groups suffer from higher rates of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease compared to their White counterparts (Graham, 2015). As we have learned from this pandemic, having an existing condition increases a person’s risk for facing serious complications and mortality due to COVID-19 infection.


More recently, a sharp increase in discriminatory behaviours against AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) populations has been seen in the USA and other countries across the globe. For the USA, the probable cause of this spark can be attributed to not only comments made by the popular political leaders, but also as a manifestation of the USA’s long and dark history of discrimination against AAPI populations. By referring to the novel coronavirus as the “China virus”, “Chinese Virus”, “Kung Flu” and other incredibly offensive variations of this ignorant blaming and naming, D*n*ld Tr*mp’s bigotry promoted violence against yet another race of people across the USA.


This pandemic has not only spotlighted the racial bias that is rampant in our communities and the failing healthcare system, it also clarified the priorities in our country:


“What about our economy?!”
“We need to open the country! We can’t live like this forever!”
“People will have to die, and I know that’s a terrible thing to say but…”
“Businesses are losing money, and something needs to be done about it.”
“I need a haircut!”
“Our kids need to go back to school and I need to go back to work.”

These were the types of remarks that were being made by celebrities, politicians, and American citizens on social media/news channels? in their concerns about how we would to keep capitalism and consumerism booming while mass graves were being dug to bury the hundreds of thousands of Americans that have lost their lives to this vicious virus.


Additionally, the global rise in misinformation related to the pandemic seems to have played a key role in how we as a people view and choose to handle the virus:

“Well, the flu kills more people every year....I think we should consider natural herd immunity. We should let it run it’s course and see what happens.”

(Agley and Xiao, 2021)


Above are the types of remarks being made by, in some cases, even medical doctors with no relevant background or expertise, on the severity of this crisis and how we should try to handle the virus. It seems that when people begin to have their “freedom” challenged, they become internet scientists. Obsessively reading and absorbing every word they read online, no matter where the words are coming from.


As postulated by biomedical organizations and institutions globally, COVID-19 is a virus that is likely to remain active in human populations for quite some time and it is important that we work together in our communities to actively decrease its spread. While we leave it up to the experts to continue studying and researching the virus, as well as vaccinating people against and treating people for COVID-19, we as citizens should also do our part by continuing to wear our masks, washing our hands and using hand sanitizers, physically distancing ourselves, and highly considering being vaccinated in order to progress ourselves in the efforts to return back to “normalcy”.


To fight racism, discrimination, and a virus during a public health crisis, means to recognize the shortcomings of our systems to actively re-narrate and re-envision justice, healing, activism, and collectively to promote health equity and social justice in all of our communities. (Iwai, Khan, and DasGupta, 2020).


Contact the author: @nanaa_from_ghana

Disclaimer: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Identity International.

Agley, J., Xiao, Y. Misinformation about COVID-19: evidence for differential latent profiles and a strong association with trust in science. BMC Public Health 21, 89 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-10103-x


Ensheng Dong, Hongru Du, Lauren Gardner, An interactive web-based dashboard to track COVID-19 in real time, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 20, Issue 5, 2020, Pages 533-534, ISSN 1473-3099, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30120-1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1473309920301201


Graham G. (2015). Disparities in cardiovascular disease risk in the United States. Current cardiology reviews, 11(3), 238–245. https://doi.org/10.2174/1573403x11666141122220003


Iwai, Y., Khan, Z. H., & DasGupta, S. (2020). Abolition medicine. Lancet (London, England), 396(10245), 158–159. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31566-X


Krieger N. (2012). Methods for the scientific study of discrimination and health: an ecosocial approach. American journal of public health, 102(5), 936–944. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2011.300544


Lopez L, Hart LH, Katz MH. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Related to COVID-19. JAMA. 2021;325(8):719–720. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.26443


Morial, M. H., Jones, V., Stankey, J., Cooper, L. A., Murphy, T., Aderonmu, F., 2020, State of Black America, Unmasked, National Urban League, https://soba.iamempowered.com/2020-executive-summary


Williams, D. R., & Rucker, T. D. (2000). Understanding and addressing racial disparities in health care. Health care financing review, 21(4), 75–90.




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