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Xi, Tedros should be tried for crime against humanity

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Xi Jinping

It is widely known and well documented that the coronavirus spread all over the globe because China deliberately didn’t inform other countries and the World Health Organization, whose Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, unquestioningly accepted Beijing’s version about the pandemic.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro’s recent suggestion that China should pay “compensatory damages” should be welcomed by the entire world. It will not be easy, for China has blatantly denied its culpability, but the process should begin. “I think there needs to be a national discussion—has to be bipartisan—about compensatory damages by a country that inflicted this pandemic on the world,” Navarro told Fox Business Network. “I’m simply suggesting to you that this crisis, and China’s role in virtually manufacturing this whole crisis—we need to have a national discussion.”

While the Trump administration is seeking a nationwide debate over the subject, the state of Missouri already filed a lawsuit against the Chinese government over the coronavirus. “The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of Covid-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease,” Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a written statement.

A lawyers’ association in India too has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a legislative amendment so that citizens could sue a foreign government, the target of the letter being China. I think that the world should demand not just damages from China; it should joined hands to put Chinese President Xi Jinping and Tedros on trial for crime against humanity. It is also time to make China pay for its acts of omission and commission.

The website of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect says, “The 1998 Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) is the document that reflects the latest consensus among the international community on this matter. It is also the treaty that offers the most extensive list of specific acts that may constitute the crime.”

In this context, ‘crime against humanity’ could mean any of the 11 acts which included murder, extermination, enslavement, and deportation or forcible transfer of population. The eleventh item on the list is: “Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

Now, Xi can certainly be accused of such inhumane acts. In China, 4,634 fatalities were reported till May 18, out of which 4,512 were in Hubei province, including 3,869 in Wuhan. While over 97 per cent fatalities occurred in one province, the rest of the country remained practically unaffected. Beijing reported just nine deaths. Another major city, Shanghai, also had fatalities in single digit.

Both cities are a few hundred miles from Wuhan. However, thousands of miles from Wuhan, in Italy, the UK, Spain, the US, etc., thousands have perished because of the virus that originated from the Chinese city. It is obvious that Xi and those in charge in China knew about Covid-19 danger; and yet they, while protecting its own cities and provinces, let the deadly novel coronavirus travel all over the world.

We hope that the demand for action against China gains momentum. The demand should be upgraded; it must include criminal prosecution of Xi and Tedros. With China being a global power, as mentioned earlier, it may be difficult to bring Xi or even Tedros to book; but an effort should be made nonetheless. As a deterrence against international rogues.