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Crowd-control weapons: "These weapons should not be interpreted as less than lethal"

We need a structured debate about the lethality of crowd-control weapons, as well as a broader discussion on the core of the problem, which is the inability of states to respond peacefully to peaceful protest.

An interview with Homer Venters from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), discussing the health implications of crowd-control weapons, and how states choose to use them.

 This video interview is part of Right to Protest, a partnership project with human rights organisations CELS and INCLO, with support from the ACLU, examining the power of protest and its fundamental role in democratic society

Interview transcript

"Something that's assumed to be rather innocuous, such as tear gas, can cause burns, and not just external burns to the skin and the face, but actually can cause long-lasting scarring of the lungs. The kinetic impact projects, rubber bullets, things of that nature, they can cause permanent damage to bones and muscles. They are often fired at people at such close range that they cause death. They simply cause death. 

"These weapons should not be interpreted as less than lethal. They should be interpreted as lethal weapons and they are often deployed against peaceful protesters. 

"Manufacturers of these weapons are engaged in a highly profitable and growing trade and as companies that are seeking primarily to amass more profit through the sale of these weapons, their motives are actually rather transparent. What is most concerning is that the purchasers of these weapons – governments, security forces – often take most or all of their counsel from the companies that are seeking to sell them, that there's not a broad discussion about the broad responses to peaceful protest, and certainly there is not a structured discussion about the lethality of these weapons. 

"These are often violent responses to peaceful protest and that is the core element of how people come to be injured and killed in these situations. The mechanism is through these weapons that we've been deceived into accepting as non-lethal, but the core of the problem is the inability of governments and security forces to respond peacefully to peaceful protest."

 


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