European, Australian Protestors Hit Streets to Call for End to Vaccine Passports and Lockdowns

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Protesters gather in front of Parliament House during an anti-lockdown rally on July 24, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Australian police encouraged citizens to report each other and vowed to use all surveillance footage available to punish those who attended the events.
Protesters gather in front of Parliament House during an anti-lockdown rally on July 24, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Australian police encouraged citizens to report each other and vowed to use all surveillance footage available to punish those who attended the events. (Image: Diego Fedele/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the streets in multiple countries, among them France, the UK, Italy, and Australia, to protest the implementation of vaccine passports and extended lockdowns on the weekend of July 25. The actions were widely and strongly denounced by national leaders and local police officials.

On July 24, an estimated 160,000 people attended public protests in France against President Emmanuel Macron’s newly announced vaccine passport requirement, a mandate that will see those who choose not to accept a COVID-19 injection be excluded from nearly every aspect of public society as a clean scan of the country’s Health Pass QR code system will now be required to enter restaurants and bars, theatres, museums, and to use public transit.

The mandate will imprison business owners who do not enforce the rules for up to a year and citizens who circumvent for up to 6 months, in addition to heavy fines.

Videos posted to Twitter show attendees skirmishing with police, while Associated Press reported authorities used water cannons and tear gas against the crowd.

In comments given to the media on July 25 during a visit to French Polynesia, Macron harshly condemned the protesters, saying, “This is not freedom, it is called irresponsibility, egoism,” according to a Google translation of a French-language Ouest France report. 

Macron framed the issue in the context of: “If tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or myself, I am a victim of your freedom when you had the possibility of having something to protect you and me.” 

Demonstrators hold up placards and banners, which read as "Health Passport = Illegal Discrimination; Vaccine, Free today, but pay tomorrow; Apartheid, Freedom; Simple Reminder - no to vaccines" during a protest against vaccine passports, in Toulouse, France, on July 24, 2021.
Demonstrators hold up placards and banners, which read as “Health Passport = Illegal Discrimination; Vaccine, Free today, but pay tomorrow; Apartheid, Freedom; Simple Reminder – no to vaccines” during a protest against vaccine passports, in Toulouse, France, on July 24, 2021. (Image: FRED SCHEIBER/AFP via Getty Images)

“And in the name of your freedom, maybe you’re going to get a serious form (of the virus) and you’re going to come to this hospital. It is all these personnel who will have to take charge of you and perhaps give up taking someone else.”

Brussels Times says an amendment to the passport legislation has removed the requirement for children over the age of 12, replacing it with the word “adults,” in addition to Health Pass only being required for “confined” indoor public spaces.

London, likewise, saw massive protests over the weekend as the Boris Johnson administration announced a similar vaccine passport requirement to participate in public society after subjecting the UK to one of the most protracted lockdowns in the world. 

Coverage of the protests by Breitbart showed extensive crowds with people holding signs with slogans such as “show your papers, comrades,” complete with a hammer and sickle, an homage to the Soviet Union’s system of restrictive “internal passports.”

Protesters blocking the roads shout anti-government slogans at the Houses of Parliament from Parliament Square as part of a freedom protest on July 19, 2021 in London, England. UK citizens fear vaccine passport mandates will create a two-tiered society restricting freedom of movement that will persist long after the pandemic passes.
Protesters blocking the roads shout anti-government slogans at the Houses of Parliament from Parliament Square as part of a freedom protest on July 19, 2021 in London, England. UK citizens fear vaccine passport mandates will create a two-tiered society restricting freedom of movement that will persist long after the pandemic passes. (Image: Martin Pope/Getty Images)

A grey-haired woman told the outlet that she had never once been involved in a protest in her life, but decided to attend because “The vaccine passport system is the final straw, it’s the thin end of the wedge.”

“The funny thing is, is that all the conspiracy theories that exist keep on coming true,” she said.

Another protester said he was in no way an “anti-vaxxer” because he had received his first dose, but opposed vaccine passports on principle. “I will not show my papers when the state asks for them because it has no right to do so.”

Tory MP Tom Tugenhadt voiced concern after the event that vaccine passports would emulate the Chinese Communist Party’s social credit system, “Vaccine passports risk a social credit system of control. If we need a vaccine for events like a party conference or a nightclub — why not to travel by a train, or go to a university lecture or a shop? What other choices will result in denial of service?” he asked in comments on Twitter.

Similar protests occurred on July 24 in Italy, which also will require citizens to scan clean on the Green Pass app in order to maintain basic freedoms in society effective Aug. 3, according to a July 23 translated article by il Giornale.

Ireland, Greece, Amsterdam, Finland, and Japan also hosted to angry citizens dissenting against what is perceived as an erosion of their open societies and individual freedoms, according to videos chronicled in a thread on Twitter

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Chief of Staff, Helge Braun, made comments to a German newspaper foreshadowing what appears to be a certain rollout of vaccine passports in his country as well when he said, “Vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people…the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”

In Australia, state governments and local authorities have taken a markedly negative approach toward similar protests over the weekend in response to the fifth wave of lockdowns in a country that has seen a meager 32,917 positive PCR tests and 918 COVID-19-associated deaths throughout the entirety of the pandemic. 

New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys characterized a protest 50,000 strong in his area as “violent, filthy, risky behaviour,” at a press conference according to a July 25 article by Sky News.

Police issued more than 500 fines as half of Australia is on formal, full stay-at-home lockdown orders.

“Clearly the behaviour was absolutely disgusting. It will not be tolerated, not just by the police, but by the community,” said Worboys, who doubled down as he encouraged the public to submit any photo or video evidence available of the protests to Crime Stoppers so attendees could be tracked by state enforcement and punished.

In Victoria state, which is under the jurisdiction of Belt and Road signatory Premier Daniel Andrews, Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius boasted his department would be utilizing all the CCTV and body camera footage available to track down dissenters, “Your faces are on the front page of our major newspapers. Your faces are on social media. Your faces are being published, wide and far,” he said, according to The Epoch Times.

Cornelius also called on the public to report their fellow citizens for protesting, “I would say that every Victorian who’s outraged by this, if you know who those people are, call Crime Stoppers and let us know who they are and we will take action.”

State of New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined in the universal condemnation of her own citizens, “I am utterly disgusted by the illegal protesters in the City today whose selfish actions have compromised the safety of all of us.”

“This type of activity during lockdown will not be tolerated,” said the Premier, who described protesting as a “type of illegal activity” while putting participants on notice that the “full force of the law” will be brought against them, according to Sky News.

In the United States, former Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, called for the U.S. to install a “reward-punishment system,” which was in no uncertain terms a call for vaccine passports, to force the hesitant to accept vaccination, “The fact is no child can show up at school without showing their immunizations, smallpox and measles. You have to make this familiar to people,” Emanuel said on an ABC talk show. 

“If you want to participate in activities, you have to show you are vaccinated. So it becomes a reward-punishment system. You make your own calculation.”

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.