It was the image that shocked Australia and soon went global. A pregnant woman, handcuffed in her own kitchen, in front of her children, as police officers seized every computer, tablet and cell phone in the house before frog-marching her off to the station.
It’s the treatment that Australians are used to seeing meted out to drug traffickers, suspected terrorists and child pornography rings. But in Zoe Lee Buhler’s case, her ‘crime’ was a Facebook post.
Zoe had tried to organise a protest against coronavirus restrictions in place in the state of Victoria. For this, she was charged with ‘incitement,’ and now faces a sentence of up to 15 years. She has been released on bail, and will go to court in January.
The most remarkable thing, though, is it’s taken until now for some sort of protest movement to emerge. Melbourne—Victoria’s capital city—has been under some form of lockdown since March. When the coronavirus first hit, the premiers governing Australia’s eight states and territories descended into a kind of unspoken competition to see who could take the ‘toughest action’ against the virus—that is, which leader could close the most businesses, destroy the most jobs, and stifle the most liberties in the name of being seen to be ‘doing something’ about the virus.
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