Right to Protest tag https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/24661/all cached version 14/07/2018 11:40:46 en Threats to the right to protest in Argentina https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/pension-reform-protests-argentina <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Protests last week in Buenos Aires against pension and welfare reforms were met with a violent police response – reflecting a government rhetoric that seeks to criminalise protesters.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/2017-12-18 reforma laboral represion- ph javier valente-28.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/2017-12-18 reforma laboral represion- ph javier valente-28.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protests in Buenos Aires on 18 December 2017. Image: Javier Valente. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal"><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">Twice in the last ten days, Argentines took to the streets by the tens of thousands to protest against a legislative reform that will hurt millions of people who receive pension, disability and child welfare benefits – exacerbating inequality in an already difficult economic scenario. And twice in the last ten days, the security forces besieged Buenos Aires’ city centre in violent operations that had clear political and judicial backing. These actions seek to intimidate, repress and punish the exercise of the right to protest&nbsp;–&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/six-reasons-why-protest-is-so-important">a fundamental right in any democracy</a>.</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">Argentina’s security forces indiscriminately fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, including at people’s faces and at short distances, and massively employed tear gas and pepper spray on both 14 and 18 December. On Monday alone, the disproportionate and irrational use of these&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/lethal-in-disguise">crowd control weapons</a>&nbsp;(also deceptively referred to as “less lethal” weapons) prompted around 100 injured people to seek care in the city’s hospitals, including at least 21 journalists. Four people lost an eye due to the rubber bullets.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The police and other security forces arbitrarily rounded up people as the protests were winding down&nbsp;</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">Also, the police and other security forces arbitrarily rounded up people as the protests were winding down – including passersby and, again, journalists. At least 106 people were detained on those two tense days, and some of them have yet to be released. Many have been unjustifiably charged with the federal crime of “public intimidation” – for exercising their right to protest, or being in the vicinity of a protest. Also, in an alarming development, a federal judge ordered raids on the homes of a number of detainees last Saturday, with no legal grounds for doing so.</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">Despite the deluge of images documenting the security forces’ violent action, no government official has spoken out against the abuses committed or mentioned the possibility of carrying out internal investigations. On the contrary, they have expressed support for the operations and floated the idea of <a href="http://www.lanacion.com.ar/2094452-el-gobierno-quiere-investigar-a-los-responsables-de-la-violencia-en-el-congreso-bajo-la-figura-de-sedicion">investigating protesters who confronted police with violence&nbsp;for “sedition”</a>.</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">At the same time, the country’s political authorities have provided no information on how these operations were organised, what justification they had for ordering such large and diverse security force deployments, or what instructions the forces received. The actions taken indicate that the operations were aimed at repressing demonstrators and keeping them far from police barricades, while also limiting the work of journalists to prevent them from capturing images of arrests and injuries. All this to create a chilling effect – because there is no other explanation for staging an operation of this kind.</p><p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/2017-12-18 reforma laboral represion- ph javier valente-48.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/2017-12-18 reforma laboral represion- ph javier valente-48.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dozens of people were injured in the protests on 18 December 2017. Image: Javier Valente. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">Although these latest crackdowns are troubling because of their scope and degree of violence, the practices described have become recurrent and form part of the state’s go-to response to social protest. Throughout 2017, numerous police operations in the city of Buenos Aires have included:</p><ul><li>*Police roundups</li><li>*Disproportionate, irregular and illegal use of force</li><li>*Aggressions against press workers and those who record police action</li><li>*Lack of information about where people have been detained</li><li>*Lack of subsequent information on the operation regarding the orders given, the weapons used, the forces involved, the number of officers and the number of detained and injured persons</li></ul><p class="mag-quote-center">The scenario is compounded by government rhetoric that seeks to delegitimise the individuals and organisations involved in protests</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">The judicial response to the repression of protests also follows a repetitive logic: there is no judicial oversight of the security operations, judges validate the arguments that the security forces use to detain people, and demonstrators and passersby are charged with serious offenses – regardless of whether there is any proof they committed them.</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">The scenario is compounded by government rhetoric that seeks to delegitimise the individuals and organisations involved in protests. This combination of political messages against protest, violent police action and a criminalising judicial response constitutes the state’s very own “public intimidation” of demonstrators, aimed at discouraging street mobilisations.</p> <p class="m-222456318524120045gmail-msonormal">Last Monday, a small group of demonstrators threw rocks at the police, causing injuries to officers. But that in no way justifies the state flouting its obligation to guarantee and protect the right to protest – no matter what the Argentine government says.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Gastón Chillier Fri, 22 Dec 2017 11:32:11 +0000 Gastón Chillier 115462 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who owns the land? The extractive industries and indigenous rights in Latin America https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/extractivism-latin-america-video <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Latin America’s human rights record has been challenged by the accelerated growth of the extractive industries in the region over the past few decades.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/auuPCwjSzt8" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><em><em>This video is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p> Latin America’s human rights record has been challenged by the accelerated growth of the extractive industries in the region over the past few decades – ‘traditional’ industries such as mining and agriculture, as well as new technologies for oil extraction. Throughout the continent, resistance movements that campaign for alternatives to this hegemonic model continuously suffer violent repression, through the use of force, intimidation and submission to judicial processes. </p><p> The interviews in this video – with Diego Montón from Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (Argentina), Oscar Ayala Amarilla from CODEHUPY (Paraguay), and Sofía de Robina Castro from Centro Prodh (Mexico) took place at the Right to Protest conference organised by CELS in Buenos Aires in May 2017.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Anna Norman Wed, 20 Dec 2017 11:56:25 +0000 Anna Norman 115413 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How do extractive industries and agribusiness repress rural communities in Latin America? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/extractivism-latin-america-juan-wahren <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Conflicts and resistances involving territories and natural resources have been increasing in Latin America in recent years. Where and how are these conflicts taking place, and who is most affected?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/conga (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/conga (1).jpg" alt="Hillside with 'No a Conga' carved on its side" title="" width="620" height="372" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti Conga mine slogan carved on the hillside above the Peruvian city of Cajamarca. Image: Alan/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>Latin America’s human rights record has been challenged by the accelerated growth of the extractive industries in the region over the past few decades – ‘traditional’ industries such as mining and agriculture, as well as new technologies for oil extraction. Throughout the continent, resistance movements that campaign for alternatives to this hegemonic model continuously suffer violent repression, through the use of force, intimidation and submission to judicial processes.&nbsp;</p> <p>As we will see, contemporary extractive activity usually presents territorial conflicts through the dislodging of the populations that inhabit those territories. The extractive model therefore implicates accumulation by dispossession – a model based on the expansion of capital through the intensive use of the environment, which is interpreted as a commodity. This process of accumulation by dispossession is intertwined with the expanded reproduction of capital by the exploitation of labour and by a system of global capital.</p> <p>Here I’ll present some of the most emblematic conflicts and resistances in Latin America in recent years involving territories and natural resources.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Hydrocarbons</strong></h2> <p>Hydrocarbon exploration has generated huge territorial conflicts from the beginning – unsurprisingly, with a global capitalist system that depends on fossil fuels. Hydrocarbon activity has caused innumerable conflicts between countries as well as civil wars, and has also advanced into ancestral territories of indigenous peoples, peasants and medium-sized producers.</p> <p>Although the advance into these territories in Latin America has occured since the beginning of the 20th century, developments in the oil and gas industry have brought the issue of land to the surface once again in the first decades of the 21st century. New technologies have allowed oil to be extracted from areas that were previously not profitable due to their geological conditions. These are the so-called unconventional hydrocarbons, whose main extraction technique consists of hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking), which makes it possible to obtain hydrocarbons (shale gas and shale oil) trapped in rocks or compact sands (tight gas). Therefore, this century has experienced a growing cycle of conflicts over hydrocarbon activities, whether in the conventional or non-conventional format, that affect various Latin American territories.</p> <p>Argentina is home to the Vaca Muerta deposit – in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro and Mendoza – which is the largest in the continent, just behind the deposits explored in the United States. It is estimated that almost 1,400 unconventional wells have been built in Vaca Muerta so far. There, the progress of the exploration of conventional and unconventional oil and gas is met with resistance from different communities of the Mapuche people in Neuquén (Campo Maripe, Tratayén, Kaxipayiñ, Paynemil, Winkul Newen, among many others), as well as the small producers of cattle, <em>crianceros</em>, of the region and medium-sized fruit producers of the Upper Valley of Rio Negro and Neuquén. The development of hydrocarbons has generated significant environmental and health impacts on populations, from spills and contamination of large areas by drilling, to gas emissions on the surface. This activity has also had a strong impact on the flora and fauna of the region, as perforations are conducted even in protected natural areas, such as Auca Mahuida.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Resistance to fracking has resulted in repressive acts by provincial and federal security forces, mainly against the Mapuche communities</p> <p>Resistance to fracking has resulted in repressive acts by provincial and federal security forces, mainly against the Mapuche communities. For example, the community of Campo Maripe – where more than 200 conventional and unconventional oil wells operate – has experienced three repressive episodes, while the Community of Tratayén was recently evicted from part of its territory where hydrocarbon drilling occurs. Almost all Mapuche community leaders and authorities are prosecuted for participating in different protests (road and route cuts, taking oil installations, demonstrations, etc.) against the advance of hydrocarbons in their ancestral territories. These resistances and demonstrations have managed to pressure authorities to prohibit oil exploration in more than 50 municipalities throughout the country, although both the provincial and national governments continue to advance policies that promote the hydrocarbon industry in general and fracking in particular.</p> <p>In Mexico, extraction and unconventional hydrocarbons have not expanded as much as in Argentina, but you can already see their social and environmental consequences. Almost 30 unconventional wells are estimated to exist in the country. A national organisation, the Allianza Mexicana contra el Fracking (Mexican Alliance Against Fracking), has already been formed to enable communication between indigenous communities, peasants and small and medium-sized towns that are affected by fracking. The organisation now joins other 44 social organisations that have already managed to ban this activity in some municipalities, such as Tanlajás and Xilitla in the State of San Luis Potosí, the municipality of Cuetzalan in the State of Puebla and hundreds of indigenous and peasant communities in zones where oil exploration occurs.</p> <p>Additionally, in the municipality of San Martín in Colombia, there were several demonstrations and popular uprisings in opposition to fracking wells that were being built in their territories. For this, they suffered intimidation, threats and repression by police in 2016. These mobilisations managed to generate empathy in other areas where unconventional hydrocarbons are also being explored, culminating in a unanimous decision by the Department Assembly of Santander to reject the use of fracking in that department that same year.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Mega-mining</strong></h2> <p>Mining is a constitutive activity of the Conquest and ransacking of America. Many of the Latin American countries have a strong mining tradition and these riches have been one of the bases of the domination and dependence of the entire continent. In the last decades, mining activity experienced a new boom through technological innovation that allows more valuable minerals (gold, silver, among others) to be retrieved through the use of leaching, a technique that consists of dynamiting large portions of the deposits in the mountains and then separating the valuable minerals from those remaining using a chemical mixture that contains cyanide and requires large amounts of water. Although mining is also a polluting activity, "open-air mega mining" – as this large-scale mining process is called in Latin America – causes strong social and environmental impacts, even greater than traditional mining.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The inhabitants of the Cajamarca region oppose the Conga Project, an open-pit mega-mining project that has destroyed almost 20 lagoons that were sources of fresh water</p><p>These large mining projects are found all along the Andes, and also in the jungles and forests of the continent, and with them come resistance movements. Here, too, indigenous peoples, peasant movements and small- and medium-urban populations are the protagonists of the resistance – attempting to defend their territories against the intensive use of water, the destruction of mountainous landscapes and the contamination of glaciers, streams, lakes, rivers and other sources of fresh water.</p> <p>A paradigmatic example of these resistances against mega-mining can be observed in Peru. The inhabitants of the Cajamarca region oppose the Conga Project, an open-pit mega-mining project that has destroyed almost 20 lagoons that were sources of fresh water in the area. The same happened with the Yanacocha mega-mining enterprise, also in Cajamarca, the largest gold mining venture in the world, as well as that of Tía María in Arequipa, in the country’s south region.&nbsp;</p> <p>In all cases, thousands of residents – many of them peasants and indigenous – have made numerous protests demanding the cessation or non-implementation of these projects through petitions, referendums, demonstrations and roadblocks. Because of these protests, which began in 2002, the inhabitants of these regions have suffered strong repressions that have killed dozens, and injured and imprisoned hundreds. To this day, resistance to mega-mining is one of the most important reasons behind social protest, and also criminalisation of social protest, in Peru.</p> <p>In Argentina, protests against mega-mining projects also began in 2002, with demonstrations in the southern city of Esquel. Its inhabitants, together with the indigenous communities of the area, opposed the development of a mega gold mining project and managed to stop it after a referendum where more than 80% of the population voted against the mine. In light of this success, no more referendums of this type have been officially accepted in Argentina, preventing local populations from having a say on the extractive projects to be carried out in their regions.</p> <p>Thus, citizen assemblies have emerged in different areas of the mountain range to oppose different mega-mining ventures in the cities of Tinogasta and Andalgalá (Catamarca), Famatina and Chilecito (La Rioja), Jáchal (San Juan), Tupungato, San Martín, Lujan de Cuyo and Maipú (Mendoza), among many other towns in the Andean provinces. In these cases, locals chose demonstrations, assemblies and roadblocks as the tools to give their demands more visibility.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">In all these cases, the&nbsp;modus operandi&nbsp;of the states’ authorities has been judicial persecution and repression of social protests</p><p>Simultaneously in Mexico there have also been strong movements of resistance to mega-mining in different states: Chihuahua has 13 such conflicts, Zacatecas 12, Puebla 8, Oaxaca 7, Chiapas, Michoacán and Baja California Sur 5 each, Sonora, San Luis Potosí, Durango, Guanajuato and Colima 4, Veracruz, Querétaro and Hidalgo 3, Jalisco, Coahuila and State of Mexico 2; and Baja California, Nayarit, Morelos and Aguascalientes 1, respectively. In Mexico, more than 100 conflicts are currently registered against mining projects, which makes it, according to <em>Forbes</em> magazine (2016), the country with the largest number of mining conflicts in Latin America.</p> <p>In all these cases, the <em>modus operandi</em> of the states’ authorities has been judicial persecution and repression of social protests. In the case of Argentina, however, laws were passed banning open-air mega-mining projects in some provinces. Some of these laws were recently repealed, opening again the possibility for mega-mining companies to advance in those provinces, as is the case of La Rioja.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Agribusiness</strong></h2> <p>Since the late 20th century, hegemonic agriculture in Latin America has been marked by so-called ‘agribusiness’, which implies a deepening and intensifying of agroindustrial production oriented to produce for export. The logic of the international commodities market and the monopoly by multinationals determine the prices of products to the detriment of small and medium producers. This has occurred within a context of technological and business innovation that has given rise to the hegemony of transgenic crops in a large part of Latin America’s arable land. These crops, such as soy, corn and African palm, among others, create a uniform landscape of monocultures focused on export and a huge concentration of land in the hands of large establishments. This, in a continent with the highest inequality indexes in the world.</p> <p>Agribusiness-related conflicts take place across all of Latin America; the protests and social movements resisting this territorial advance of agrarian capitalism are numerous. This productive model has the greatest territorial extension in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, but agribusiness also occurs with great intensity in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Central America. Even in countries like Mexico, where land is more fairly distributed, this model has been growing exponentially.</p> <p>The most important responses against agribusiness are carried out by indigenous peoples and various peasant movements that have been resisting evictions since the 1990s, and often occupy lands to work in an alternative way to the dominant model. Brazil has the two best-known cases of peasant movements: The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST, for its Portuguese acronym) and the Movimiento de Pequeños Agricultores (MPA) (Movement of Small Farmers), which have recovered thousands of hectares through their occupations and settlements. After occupying the land, they begin an alternative production process to the hegemonic one, which allows them to consolidate a <em>de facto</em> agrarian reform in their territories, as well as the construction of so-called "food sovereignty".&nbsp;</p> <p>These occupations have received strong reprisals from landowners and their private security guards. The peasants have also suffered strong repression by public security forces. Peasants have been murdered, wounded and imprisoned for protesting, which includes large demonstrations and occupation of public buildings.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Peasant movements resist the exponential process of "<em>sojización</em>" (“soyification”) of the Paraguayan countryside at the cost of repression, imprisonment and killings of dozens of peasants</p><p>Argentina also has several peasant movements – the Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (MNCI), the Frente Nacional Campesino (FNC), the Organización de Trabajadores Rurales de Lavalle (OTRAL) and, more recently, the Unión de Trabajadores de la Tierra (UTT) – that resist evictions and/or have occupied land to implement productive schemes linked to rural logics, with an agro-ecological vision. At least ten peasants, indigenous people and/or activists have been killed for these occupations, eviction resistances and roadblocks in the last ten years – including Javier Chocobar, Miguel Galván, Cristián Ferreyra, Roberto López and Santiago Maldonado [LINK], the young man who disappeared during the repression of a protest of a Mapuche community in Cushamen in Argentine Patagonia, and appeared dead almost three months later.</p> <p>In Paraguay, several peasant movements resist the exponential process of "sojización" (“soyification”) of the Paraguayan countryside at the cost of repression, imprisonment and killings of dozens of peasants in the last ten years. This scheme is replicated in other countries where agribusiness has been strengthened as a model of hegemonic production in rural regions.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Other conflicts around extractivism</strong></h2> <p>In addition to the aforementioned, there are a series of extractive activities and large-scale infrastructure projects that affect the rural areas of the American continent and generate processes of struggle and resistance from different social movements. For example, pine and/or eucalyptus forest enterprises of large paper mills, hydroelectric dams, nuclear plants, large roads, pipelines, gas pipelines, large commercial ports, etc., all cause significant social and environmental impacts.</p> <p>Some of these resistances can be observed among the Mapuche communities in southern Chile who have been resisting pine plantations in their communal territories. These communities have been subjected to heavy repression by the Carabiniers – the Chilean national police force – and the imprisonment of their leaders, in addition to stigmatisation and social racism at the hands of the media, political elites and a large portion of the population. In recent years, hundreds of Mapuches have been taken to court, in addition to another dozen indigenous political prisoners from other communities, while several have been murdered and hundreds injured by repressive forces. Additionally, the increasing implementation of the anti-terrorist law has enabled authorities to persecute the Mapuche communities that protest against these extractive projects and for the recovery of its territory and ancestral culture.</p> <p>Another example is the indigenous communities of the Moxeños, Tsimanaes and Yuracarés Indigenous Territories and Isiboro Secure National Park (TIPNIS) in Bolivia that, since 2011, oppose the construction of a highway that is projected to go through the national park and indigenous territory to connect the regions of Cochabamba and Beni. This highway is part of the planning of the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA) that promotes large-scale infrastructure projects to improve the extraction of natural resources as well as the mobility of goods through "interoceanic corridors" between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.&nbsp;</p> <p>These people have led demonstrations and roadblocks to protest against this project, which is spearheaded by the administration of Evo Morales who supports this project that has divided part of the TIPNIS communities. The project has marked a turning point for his government in relation to the peasant and indigenous social movements: while some continue to support the government, other groups protest that, despite identifying itself as a "government of indigenous and social movements", the Morales’ government promotes extractivism, from activities related to hydrocarbons, mega-mining, agribusiness and large infrastructure projects, such as the TIPNIS highway.</p> <h2><strong>Bottom-up alternatives to the hegemonic model</strong></h2> <p>A series of lifestyles coexist within the extractive hegemonic model, even though they are presented as opposite: mostly indigenous peoples, peasant movements, Afro-descendant populations, artisanal fishermen and other subaltern actors of rural regions. Some of these social movements propose and build lifestyles in their territories that present an alternative to the extractive model.</p> <p>Throughout Latin America, ancestral forms of food production and ways of life coexist – many times subsumed, while many others in frank dispute with the productive logics of hegemonic agrarian capitalism. These ancestral productive forms – which we can call alternative – are predominantly carried out by the indigenous peoples and peasant communities that inhabit a large part of the continent’s territories. In addition to these are the productive activities for self-support in complementarity with the production of food for local and/or national markets.</p> <p>There is also a diverse range of small- and medium-scale producers who are not necessarily indigenous and/or peasants who produce food for the local and/or national market through different systems, although generally incorporated in part or totally in the production, distribution and commercialisation of the agribusiness or agroindustrial model. On the other hand, different currents within the agronomy sector were consolidated in the last few decades, which are linked to the peasant and indigenous struggles, that systematised forms of alternative production to the hegemonic model of agribusiness, thus combining technical and agronomic knowledge with the knowledge associated with peasants, indigenous people and other subaltern rural actors who excel in what is now called agroecology.</p> <p>These experiences present possible alternatives to the mainstream lifestyle and propose new ways to produce healthy and cheap food. They represent, here and now, alternatives to extractive activities such as hydrocarbons, mega-mining and agribusiness that are presented as the bearers of "development" and "progress" but that end up generating greater social inequalities, the destruction of the environment and the disarticulation of other ways of life. These resistances and the alternatives that emerge from peasant, indigenous and rural struggles showcase the hope of social change, which has already begun in the re-existing territories of Latin America, Our America.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Juan Wahren Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:27:38 +0000 Juan Wahren 115338 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ¿Cómo y para qué espían los Estados a las organizaciones sociales? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/surveillance-infographic <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/the-right-to-protestinfo3es (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/the-right-to-protestinfo3es (1).png" alt="" title="" width="989" height="906" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag CELS Y Binomi Fri, 08 Dec 2017 18:15:49 +0000 CELS Y Binomi 115200 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Violence, power and mining in Peru: how has Las Bambas worsened repression? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/las-bambas-mine-peru <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Demonstrations by local communities against the MMG Las Bambas mine have been met by police repression, highlighting a state that prioritises commercial interests over human rights. <em><strong><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/walter-vargas-d-az/violencia-poder-y-miner-en-per-c-mo-las-bambas-ha-agravado-la-r">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/David Gubler-flickr (3).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/David Gubler-flickr (3).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hauling containers for Las Bambas mine. Image: David Gubler/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>Peru has become the country of greatest attraction for mining investment in Latin America, according to a recent study by Frase Institute, which assesses geological aspects, political environment and favorable regulation. However, this growth of investment has unleashed tensions in territories of indigenous communities, creating a powerful private force capable of influencing state decisions and exerting violence on lands, the environment and indigenous activists. Recently, the southern, Andean part of the country has experienced intense conflict at one of the largest copper mines in the world: Las Bambas.</p> <h2><strong>Open-pit mining:&nbsp;</strong><strong>Las Bambas</strong></h2> <p>Las Bambas started commercial production of copper and molybdenum in 2016, 12 years after its international public bidding. The Swiss company Xstrata won the tender in 2004, in 2011 it obtained state approval of its Environmental Impact Study (EIA), in 2013 it was acquired by Glencore International and in 2014 it was sold to the MMG Limited consortium, led by Chinese capital.</p> <p>It is estimated that the mine produced more than two million tons of concentrated copper in its first five years, with direct impact on communities in the provinces of Cotabambas and Grau (Apurímac) and in the mining circuit that extends to the high Andean provinces of Cusco. Although the project has three open pits, no consultation with the affected indigenous communities has been carried out, and no state permit has been granted. State indifference led the communities to direct negotiation attempts and tensions with the mining companies.</p> <p>Successive modifications of the EIA have unleashed a confrontation that reveals how the power of the mining industry has paved the way for repression, criminalisation of communities, and other human rights abuses.</p> <h2><strong>What are the reasons for communal protests?</strong></h2> <p>Between 2013 and 2015, six modifications to the EIA were approved by state authorities in favour of Las Bambas – raising serious questions about the lack of participation and consultation of the affected communities. On 25 September 2015, various peasant organisations and affected communities held a strike in protest of these irregular EIA changes. Protests have been continuous since then, to demand environmental protections in indigenous territories.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The impacts of dust, noise and vibrations are affecting the communities, without effective measures of prevention, mitigation or remediation</p> <p>One of the main changes in the EIA is the relocation of a molybdenum plant and a filter plant to Cotabambas, despite the fact that its construction was initially planned for the Cusco province of Espinar. The proposed construction of a 206-kilometre-long pipeline for the transfer of mineral production has also now been rejected. This means that trucks – around 250 a day – will continue to do the transfers along the unpaved road from Cotabambas to Chumbivilcas and Espinar. The impacts of dust, noise and vibrations are affecting the communities, without effective measures of prevention, mitigation or remediation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The government's response to the demonstrations has prioritised business interests. Police repression, the misuse of the state of emergency and the criminalisation of protesters all reflect a state approach that denies indigenous communities the right to make decisions in their own territories.</p> <p>Virginia Pinares, president of the Committee for the Struggle of the communities of Cotabambas, has publicly denounced the state response:&nbsp;</p> <p>“[Authorities have] said the main changes are auxiliary. Main plants have been transferred to Las Bambas. We were not informed. The plants have been moved without prior consultation of the people. We have demanded that, from the first moment, we are informed about the impacts of the relocation of these plants, but the Peruvian State has not listened to us, nor have representatives from the Apurímac Region or Congress (...) Now they do not want to allow the majority of organisations to participate. They only want three representatives per district, when several organisations are concerned about the environment. We are proposing an environmental insurance and a framework agreement” (September 13, 2016, TV Peru Noticias).&nbsp;</p> <p>In effect, the technical modifications that increase environmental vulnerability have been made behind the backs of the affected peoples, applying a new simplified legal mechanism called Support Technical Report (ITS). The ITS is planned to modify auxiliary components or expand projects with little environmental impact in a period of 15 days, obviously without citizen participation or indigenous consultation.</p> <h2><strong>Lethal repression</strong></h2> <p>After the protests in 2015, the government of Ollanta Humala ordered police intervention that resulted in the death of three peasants from Cotabambas – Exaltación Huamaní, Alberto Chahuallo and Alberto Cárdenas – who were killed by gunshots fired by police during the eviction of <em>comuneros</em> blocking the mining camp. Quintino Cereceda was also killed in similar circumstances. In both cases, the arbitrary use of police force and violence caused numerous injuries of varying severity, both among demonstrators and police officers.</p> <p>This repression has aggravated the already tense conflict, but fiscal investigations have still to identify the police officers responsible for the deaths, while the government of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has defended the actions of the police, insisting that they faced criminal behaviour. The absence of reparation has led the families of the dead peasants to accept a ‘non-compensatory’ fund with money from the MMG and regional government that amounts to the equivalent of a minimum monthly wage (approximately US$265) for 24 months. This donation, presented as ‘humanitarian’, contrasts with the request for civil damages of US$177,000 that MMG intends to charge those community members denounced for protesting against its activities.</p> <p><strong>Public-private policing&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The Ministry of the Interior has admitted that the national police provides private security, protection, custody and other services to the Las Bambas mining sites in Apurímac and Cusco. These services began with an agreement signed in 2012 and is constantly renewed. The agreement provides an economic compensation of 100 or 110 soles per day (about US$30) to each police officer, as well as business logistic support for police work. The ministry has also agreed to the use of force in exceptional cases and has established a confidentiality clause covering company information to which the police have access.&nbsp;</p> <p>The double public-private police function in conflict zones not only seriously alters their role, but also creates an economic interest that distorts their work of protecting the public, even when they are not in private service hours. This reversal of roles has serious consequences. As verified by human rights organizations, 17 people arrested during the protests in September 2015 were deprived of their liberty beyond the legal limit of 24 hours in the mining camp itself.&nbsp;</p> <p>The testimony of Francisco Huanca, member of the <em>Frente de Defensa de Defensa de los Intereses y Desarrollo de Cotabambas</em> (Defense Front for the Interests and Development of Cotabambas), reveals that even when emergency helicopter transfers were arranged, those accused of criminal activity were often transferred instead of the wounded:</p> <p>“During the 2015 conflict, people were injured and killed, but the police preferred to take by helicopter the people they had intercepted and incriminated before the injured. Two of my countrymen died on the way to the city of Cusco. Our question is: is the state on our side or on the side of the company?” (13 October 2017, Testimony in the VI Peruvian Congress of Human Rights.</p> <h2><strong>State of permanent emergency</strong></h2> <p>The standard state measure against communal mobilisation and protest is military intervention. After the 2015 peasant strike, the government ordered the intervention of the armed forces in support of the national police on two occasions, and declared a state of emergency for 30 days in five provinces of the Andean south, many of which had not experienced any clashes. Even so, the rights to personal liberty and security, the inviolability of property and freedom of assembly and transit were suspended in five provinces.</p> <p>Following protests in February and August 2017, the government has issued new ‘state of emergency’ decrees with the same restrictions applied in Cotabambas. These protests demanded the fulfillment of promises made by the company in the Challhuahuacho community, and compensation for the use of the road in the district of Mara. In August 2017, without any protests or security threats, the declaration of a state of emergency was reactivated and renewed every 30 days. A ‘habeas corpus’ lawsuit filed by human rights organisations, community leaders, rural women and young people of Challhuahuacho seeks to reverse this preventive and continued state of emergency, stating it to be totally unjustified.</p> <h2><strong>Criminalisation of indigenous activists</strong></h2> <p>As a result of the conflict, the state and MMG have accused 50 community members – residents of Cotabambas and Grau who have defended their collective rights – of crimes, including of aggravated damage, usurpation, obstruction of transportation, riots, conspiracy to commit a crime, coercion, aggravated robbery and illegal possession of explosives.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The MMG company has been very active in pursuing criminal prosecution of community activists</p> <p>The company has been very active in pursuing criminal prosecution of community activists: it has filed complaints against community members and argued that they are part of a criminal organisation because they have common lawyers. They also requested the payment of US$177,000 as reparation, money that the <em>comuneros</em> supposedly must pay the company.</p> <p>The legal defense of the activists, by the associations FEDEPAZ, APRODEH and DHSF, has called attention to the violations of personal freedom and use of one's own language. In addition to the police arrests, the <em>comuneros</em> Edwar Brandon and Javier Mamani were put in preventive prison for more than six months; while Asunto Huamaní, a Quechua-speaker, was interrogated in Spanish, without an interpreter.</p> <p>&nbsp;Eliana Galindo, a lawyer at APRODEH, expressed her concerns about the case:</p> <p>“It is difficult for villagers to attend the hearings to testify as witnesses. Given the undue criminalisation that exists, they are afraid that the prosecutors will put them under investigation for taking part in the protests. It is also an obstacle that the authorities in charge of the investigation have not guaranteed the presence of interpreters; this is a population whose original and predominant language is Quechua. Both problems damage the right of defense, while the company has a large team of lawyers dedicated to promoting complaints" (November 17, 2017, Personal interview)</p> <p>The criminalisation of the resistance of local communities is an articulation of business and state interests, and undoubtedly also deepens the power disadvantage of the communities affected by the mine.</p> <h2><strong>The right to decide</strong></h2> <p>Tensions in the territories affected by the Las Bambas mine uncover a deep conflict. The local people and communities are denied the right to decide the viability of extractive megaprojects and even to decide the environmental and social conditions in which projects can operate.</p> <p>According to information from the Munden project, 40% of Peru's territory has been concessioned to extractive industries. In the provinces under direct influence of Las Bambas, the trend is greater: 89% of the territory of Cotabambas and 72% of the Grau territory have been concessioned to mining, without information, participation or consultation with the people who live there.</p> <p>Commercial interests have stamped on human rights and the sovereignty of local people. The struggle continues for the right to make decisions about our way of life in our own territories.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Walter Vargas Díaz Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:10:13 +0000 Walter Vargas Díaz 115164 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why does Canada spy on its own indigenous communities? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/surveillance-indigenous-groups-canada <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Indigenous nations have emerged as vocal defenders of land and water, but state surveillance of these groups is disproportionate, and speaks of the broad criminalisation of Indigenous peoples.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Joel Angel Juarez:Zuma Press:PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Joel Angel Juarez:Zuma Press:PA Images.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Woodland Cree Tribe Walk protest, January 2017. Image: Joel Angel Juarez/Zuma Press/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p class="Body"><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p> <p class="Body">Researchers and journalists have begun to reveal the extent to which Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada are subject to surveillance by police, military, national security intelligence agencies and other government bodies. While security agencies have long looked beyond ‘traditional’ national security threats and set their sights on activists – even in the absence of evidence linking these individuals or organisations to any violent criminal activity – this reality is increasingly the subject of media and public scrutiny. As Jeffrey Monaghan and Kevin Walby <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10439463.2011.605131">have written</a>, the language of <a href="https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/security-services-deem-environmental-animal-rights-groups-extremist-threats/article533559/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&amp;">“aboriginal and multi-issue extremists”</a> in security discourse blurs the line between threats to national security, matters of ordinary law enforcement, and lawful, democratic advocacy.</p><p class="Body"> In this piece, we summarise some of what is known about the surveillance practices employed to keep tabs on Indigenous leaders and activists, and describe their impact on <em>Charter</em>-protected and internationally recognised human rights and freedoms.</p> <p class="Body">Indigenous nations and peoples have emerged, worldwide, as vocal defenders of land and water, organising to protect ancestral territories and ways of life. In Canada, while aboriginal and treaty rights are <a href="http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/page-16.html#h-52">constitutionally recognised and affirmed</a>, the interpretation of those rights is highly contested and a matter frequently before the country’s highest court. Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada have led popular resistance to the development of new oil and gas pipelines, hydroelectric dams, mining operations, and other extractive industries that have significant environmental impact and which frequently encroach on Indigenous territories. </p><p class="Body">This resistance – with tactics ranging from peaceful protest and strategic litigation to the establishment of creative action camps and blockades – has frequently been met with a forceful police response. Through diligent research and investigative reporting, a pattern of extensive surveillance of these activities has also emerged – implicating law enforcement, intelligence agencies and numerous other government bodies.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The pattern of surveillance against Indigenous activists and organisations… can be characterised as disproportionate and alienating</p><p class="Body">Both freedom of expression and assembly are guaranteed under the <em>Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, </em>which forms part of the Canadian constitution. The freedom from unreasonable search and seizure –&nbsp;which provides constitutional protection for privacy – is also guaranteed. The law recognises certain limits to these rights, provided they further a compelling government objective and are proportionate to that objective. However, the pattern of surveillance against Indigenous activists and organisations that has emerged in Canada is one that can clearly be characterised as disproportionate and alienating, with no evidence that it is necessary. Though these operations are inherently covert, Indigenous activists, researchers and human rights advocates have begun – largely through access-to-information requests – to piece together a clearer picture of the ways in which this surveillance takes place. Below, we discuss surveillance of individual leaders, surveillance of communities and movements, and how the agencies and departments that gather information use and share it.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Daniela Kantorova_flickr.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Daniela Kantorova_flickr.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Idle No More protest. Image: Daniela Kantorova/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2><strong>Surveillance of Indigenous leaders</strong></h2> <p class="Body">Government agencies have engaged in surveillance and information-gathering activities focused on Indigenous leaders and activists. Take for example the case of Dr. Cindy Blackstock, who is a Gitksan activist for child welfare, the Executive Director of the <a href="https://fncaringsociety.com/">First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada</a>, and a Professor of Social Work at McGill University. Dr. Blackstock’s organisation (along with the <a href="http://www.afn.ca/home/">Assembly of First Nations</a>) had sought justice at Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal regarding the federal government’s <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/canada-discriminates-against-children-on-reserves-tribunal-rules-1.3419480">failure to provide equal funding</a> for services for First Nations children, youth and families living on First Nations reserves. Access to information requests revealed that between 2009 and 2011, Dr. Blackstock was subject to extensive monitoring by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) – the government department responsible for Indigenous issues — and the Department of Justice. Officials monitored her personal and professional activities on Facebook and attended <a href="http://voices-voix.ca/en/facts/profile/cindy-blackstock">between 75 and 100</a> of her public speaking engagements, taking detailed notes and widely distributing reports on her activities. In 2013, Canada’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-actions-and-decisions/investigations/investigations-into-federal-institutions/2012-13/pa_201213_01/">Privacy Commissioner found</a> that by engaging in this personal monitoring – which was unrelated to her professional activities or her organisation’s case against the government – the Department of Justice and INAC had violated Dr. Blackstock’s privacy rights.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Similarly, Dr. Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaq lawyer, member of the Eel River Bar First Nation, and an Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. Following public revelations that Dr. Cindy Blackstock was being monitored by the government, Dr. Palmater <a href="http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2012/01/csis-and-me-what-first-nation-activities-are-not-considered-p">made access to information requests</a> to INAC, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS - Canada’s national spy agency), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP – Canada’s national police force), and the federal Department of National Defence (DND). While many of the records sought were legally exempt from disclosure, Dr. Palmater <a href="http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2012/01/csis-and-me-what-first-nation-activities-are-not-considered-p">noted</a> that some portions of her request to CSIS were exempt under section 15(1)(c) of the <a href="http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/a-1/page-3.html#h-10">Access to Information Act</a> as relating “to the efforts of Canada towards detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities.” In a statement <a href="https://openparliament.ca/committees/public-safety/41-2/57/dr-pamela-palmater-1/">to the Public Safety Committee</a> of the House of Commons related to its study of Bill C-51 (<em>Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015</em>) Dr. Palmater stated that INAC also admitted to having 750 pages of documentation on her activities and whereabouts, but had destroyed the files before they had the opportunity to give them to her.</p> <p class="Body">Clayton Thomas-Muller’s case provides another example. Mr. Thomas-Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and a former <a href="http://www.idlenomore.ca/">Idle No More</a> organiser. The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) National News <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/10/17/rcmp-tracked-movements-indigenous-activist-extremist-group-documents/">obtained documents</a> from criminology professor Dr. Jeffrey Monaghan demonstrating that in 2010 and 2011, information about Thomas-Muller (who was at the time a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)) had made its way into the RCMP’s<a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/10/21/former-idle-organizer-unfazed-rcmp-surveillance/"> Suspicious Incidents Report (SIR)</a> despite acknowledgement that there was no specific criminal threat at issue: Thomas-Muller was simply planning a trip to the Wet’suwet’en action camp against the Northern Gateway pipeline. The report was referred for inclusion in the SIR on the basis that IEN was an ‘extremist’ group, although the basis for this characterisation, or how the group was designated as such, is not known.</p> <h2><strong>Surveillance of communities and movements</strong></h2> <p class="Body">The records detailing monitoring of individual activists and leaders speak to a larger pattern of surveillance against non-violent dissent, Indigenous-led social movements and their allies. As <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/10/21/former-idle-organizer-unfazed-rcmp-surveillance/">APTN reported</a> in relation to the documents referring to Thomas-Muller, RCMP records also listed a number of groups as “involved persons,” <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/10/21/former-idle-organizer-unfazed-rcmp-surveillance/">including</a> “the Defenders of the Land, Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice, Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Ruckus Society, Global Justice Ecology Project, Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, the Indigenous Action Movement and the Wet’suwet’en Direct Action Camp.” In 2014, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed complaints against both the RCMP and CSIS, alleging unlawful surveillance against opponents of Northern Gateway that included many of the same organisations. While the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP <a href="http://www.cjfe.org/the_pulse_of_free_expression_in_b_c">launched an independent investigation</a>, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) (the body responsible for CSIS oversight) instead held a series of secret hearings. They issued a decision in 2015, but barred the BCCLA <a href="https://bccla.org/dont-spy-on-me/">from speaking about the outcome</a>. The BCCLA has since applied for judicial review of this decision.</p> <p class="Body">Just last month, documents obtained by <a href="https://news.vice.com/story/canadian-police-spied-on-indigenous-protesters-on-parliament-hill">VICE News</a> demonstrate that the RCMP surveilled Indigenous activists who constructed a Tipi on Parliament Hill as part of Idle No More’s <a href="http://unsettling150.ca/">Unsettling Canada 150</a>, a campaign coinciding with 150 years since Canadian confederation. Idle No More has come under government scrutiny on other occasions: in 2015 documents <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2015/03/18/aboriginal-affairs-shared-wide-range-information-spy-agency-bolster-idle-surveillance-documents/">obtained by APTN</a> confirmed that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND, now INAC) shared information about peaceful protests led by the group with Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and passed on information about meetings between government and First Nations leaders to the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and others.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The Government Operations Centre (GOC) called an emergency teleconference… and widely circulated a spreadsheet detailing these solidarity events</p><p class="Body">In 2013, an RCMP raid on a Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick triggered a heated confrontation and dozens of arrests. Documents revealed that the Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/05/30/militarys-counter-intelligence-unit-monitored-elsipogtog-anti-fracking-protests-documents/">was also involved</a> in monitoring the situation at Elsipogtog. In response to the raid, activists took to social media, calling for peaceful solidarity actions to take place in the following days. <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/01/08/ottawa-prepared-nation-wide-protests-following-rcmp-elsipogtog-raid-documents/">APTN revealed</a> that the Government Operations Centre (GOC) called an emergency teleconference with a long list of federal departments and widely circulated a spreadsheet detailing these solidarity events. It included <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/01/08/ottawa-prepared-nation-wide-protests-following-rcmp-elsipogtog-raid-documents/">such events as</a> “a jingle-dress healing dance in Kenora, Ont., a prayer ceremony in Edmonton and an Idle No More ‘taco fundraiser, raffle and jam session’ planned at the Native Friendship Centre in Barrie.”</p><p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Brendan Bombaci_flickr_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Brendan Bombaci_flickr_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Brendan Bombaci/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Sharing and using the fruits of surveillance</strong></h2> <p class="Body">The surveillance and monitoring of Indigenous communities and movements is in no way confined to the examples noted above. In 2011, the <a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/12/04/mounties_spied_on_native_protest_groups.html">Toronto Star</a> reported that a distinct Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) of the RCMP was formed specifically to monitor the activities of Aboriginal groups in 2007. While the unit was “dismantled” in 2010, the RCMP <a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/12/04/mounties_spied_on_native_protest_groups.html">would not confirm</a> whether the same activities were taking place under another name or program. <a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/12/04/mounties_spied_on_native_protest_groups.html">Documents revealed</a> that as of 2009, their activities focused on 18 “communities of concern,” flagged largely for their opposition to logging, mining or pipeline projects.</p> <p class="Body">Journalists noted that the JIG reported on a weekly basis to <a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/12/04/mounties_spied_on_native_protest_groups.html">approximately 450 recipients</a>, including “unnamed ‘industry partners’ in the energy and private sector,” highlighting a potentially troubling information-sharing relationship between government and private corporations. <a href="http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/4640">The Dominion</a> and a summary of these issues by <a href="http://voices-voix.ca/en/facts/profile/aboriginal-communities-and-environmental-groups">Voices-Voix</a> reported that intelligence sharing between government and private sector actors has regularly taken place through classified briefings, raising concern among Indigenous and environmental activists. As Clayton Thomas-Muller reflected in an interview with <a href="http://aptnnews.ca/2014/10/21/former-idle-organizer-unfazed-rcmp-surveillance/">APTN National News</a> following revelations that he had been under surveillance:</p> <p class="Body">“We are challenging the most powerful corporate entities on the planet … What we have on our side is endless human resources. We have the power of our ancestors and traditions fueling us. We are intimately aware of the domestic surveillance that is happening as well as the agenda to criminalise Indigenous dissent.”</p> <p class="Body">VICE News <a href="https://news.vice.com/story/canadas-spy-agency-has-been-watching-standing-rock-and-thinks-it-has-canadian-implications">has also obtained documents</a> demonstrating that Canada’s spy agency has taken a keen interest in the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at the <a href="http://standwithstandingrock.net">Oceti Sakowin Camp</a>. In a 2016 CSIS document, <a href="https://news.vice.com/story/canadas-spy-agency-has-been-watching-standing-rock-and-thinks-it-has-canadian-implications">the spy agency noted that</a> “there is strong Canadian Aboriginal support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as many see similarities to their own struggles against proposed pipeline construction in Canada (Northern Gateway, Pacific Trails, Energy East, etc.).”</p> <p class="Body">In 2015, the federal government passed legislation (Bill C-51, the <em>Anti-Terrorism Act 2015</em>) that enabled even greater information-sharing practices amongst government agencies about “threats to critical infrastructure” or “the economic and financial stability of Canada”, both of which may provide an excuse to share information in a manner that chills and thereby threatens the constitutionally recognised right to protest. The same legislation afforded dramatic new “disruption” powers to CSIS. <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1678018-open-letter-on-bill-c-51.html">Over 100 Canadian legal academics</a> wrote a lengthy analysis in opposition to the bill. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/melina-loubicanmassimo/awaiting-justice-%25E2%2580%2593-indigenous-resistance-to-tar-sand-development-in-cana">Melina Laboucan-Massimo</a> described the chilling effects of the legislation for openDemocracy in 2015:</p> <p class="Body">“It is legislation like this that makes it difficult for people to not be scared into silence, and for people like me who believe that we need a just transition to renewable energy and engage in peaceful protests that may be seen as criminal in the eyes of the Canadian government. But this history is not new for us as Indigenous peoples here in Canada. It is the continuation of neo colonialism seen now in the form of resource extraction, environmental and cultural genocide.”</p> <p class="Body">Bill C-51 is currently subject to a <a href="https://ccla.org/campaigns/c51-on-trial/">constitutional challenge</a> led by the <a href="https://ccla.org/">Canadian Civil Liberties Association</a> (CCLA) and <a href="https://cjfe.org/">Canadian Journalists for Free Expression</a>. Despite promises to correct the unconstitutional aspects of Bill C-51, the current government’s proposed reform to national security law (Bill C-59) fails to address many of the concerns raised in that <em>Charter</em> challenge. The notion that peaceful resistance – such as opposition to pipeline projects or other private development – constitutes a meaningful threat to “critical infrastructure” encourages the profiling of Indigenous groups by Canada’s national security bodies.</p> <h2><strong>The consequences of criminalisation</strong></h2> <p class="Body">The Canadian government is only beginning to confront its history of violence and colonialism against Indigenous peoples. As <a href="https://openparliament.ca/committees/public-safety/41-2/57/dr-pamela-palmater-1/">Pam Palmater</a> testified to the House of Commons in 2015:</p> <p class="Body">“Every aspect of our identity has been criminalised, both historically and into the present day. In every single instance, we've had to resist all of these laws, keeping in mind that these were all validly enacted laws. It was legal to take Mi'kmaq scalps; it was legal to confine us to reserves; it was legal to deny us legal representation. All of these things were law in Canada. We had to be criminals, in that we had to break the law in order to preserve our lives, our physical security, and our identities.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">A systemic pattern of over-policing and over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples by the Canadian government remains a core feature of our legal system</p> <p class="Body">Sixty percent of First Nations children on reserve continue to <a href="https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/shameful-neglect">live in poverty</a> and there are <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/first-nations-drinking-water-advisories-1.3982999">over 70 First Nations communities </a>where drinking water advisories have been in effect for one year or more. A systemic pattern of over-policing and over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples by the Canadian government remains a core feature of our legal system. Though First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples comprise about 4% of the Canadian population, they make up <a href="http://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/cnt/rpt/oth-aut/oth-aut20121022info-eng.aspx">over 23%</a> of the federal inmate population, leading commentators to describe Canada’s prisons as “<a href="http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/canadas-prisons-are-the-new-residential-schools/">the new residential schools</a>.” This pattern of criminalisation means that Indigenous people in Canada are more likely to be disproportionately subject to the kinds of “everyday surveillance” associated with poverty, urbanisation and incarceration, alongside the enhanced surveillance threats faced by those who are active on issues of land and water. The surveillance of Indigenous activists and organisations in Canada must be understood as part of this larger context.</p> <p class="Body">The CCLA is concerned about the long-term impacts of government surveillance of individuals and communities in Canada generally, and of Indigenous activists in particular. While surveillance is most often discussed in terms of privacy rights – and while it is doubtlessly true that many forms of state surveillance are deeply invasive intrusions into the private lives of individuals and communities – privacy is not the only right at stake. In fact, the kind of government surveillance that Indigenous activists and groups have been subject to has the potential to affect a wide range of rights and freedoms protected by the Charter, as well as jeopardise many of our most deeply held democratic values. Pervasive surveillance creates a climate of insecurity, with the potential to discourage legitimate democratic participation, curtail peaceful assembly, and chill freedom of speech, of religious expression and of the press. When these consequences are disproportionately aimed at those engaged with the democratic process through their activism and political work, democracy, and the public interest as a whole, suffer.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Lex Gill and Cara Zwibel Wed, 06 Dec 2017 16:52:28 +0000 Lex Gill and Cara Zwibel 115123 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Encroachment of public space in the UK: how does it restrict our right to protest? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/josie-appleton/protest-and-public-space <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both the increase in privately owned public spaces (POPS) and new state regulations are limiting opportunities to exercise one of our basic rights: the right to protest.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/granary square_Bex Walton.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/granary square_Bex Walton.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="465" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Granary Square in King's Cross – one of London's POPS (privately owned public spaces). Image: Bex Walton/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>There has always been a battleground over the question of protests in public space. In the 19th century, there were a series of demonstrations in Hyde Park, which was the only space capable of holding mass rallies, but which was land privately held by the crown. In 1855, working men gathered to protest against the Sunday Trading bill that would close shops on Sundays: they mocked the wealthy floating by in their carriages and jossled and fought with police. In 1866, the Reform League called a rally in Hyde Park calling for the extension of suffrage: when the demonstrators found that the park had been closed against them, they tore off hundreds of yards of railings to enter the park. Eventually, the 1872 Parks Regulation Act granted the right to speak and meet freely in the park, within certain bounds. The right to protest in public space was not given, but won.</p><p>The conflict has generally been between elites wishing to restrict protest in public spaces, and the less well off seeking to extend it. The urban design of cities has often been informed by an attempt to restrict public protests. The boulevards of Paris, for example, were designed in part to provide easy access for troops, and to restrict the erection of barricades in backstreets. London’s Trafalgar Square has an absurd area taken up by two enormous fountains, which, along with Nelson’s Column, greatly reduces the surface area of the square, bisecting the available space into three different sections. This design – supervised by Robert Peel's Conservative administration – was not only for ornamentation, but also a deliberate attempt to make the square unusable for demonstrations ofsignificant size.</p><p>Therefore, historically, it is both the public state and private landholders that have sought to restrict protest in public spaces. This remains the case today.</p><h2>Privately owned public spaces (POPS)</h2><p>Over the past two decades, there has been a growth of privately owned public spaces, or POPS, a trend that has been highlighted by writers such as Anna Minton and the urban geographer Bradley Garrett. There areas now include many squares and shopping streets in British cities, and were often connected with redevelopment – such as Liverpool One, owned by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Group, which redeveloped 42 acres of land in Liverpool city centre. In London, these areas now include More London, the area around City Hall, and the recently developed Granary Square, north of King’s Cross. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Ultimately, it is the landowner who sets the terms for public use, which it can do as a matter of ‘policy’</p><p>These areas are all governed by private regulations (which are often kept secret) and are guarded by private security guards in florescent jackets, who stop not only demonstrations, but also ball games, skateboarding, homeless people and street drinkers. POPS are growing fast, in what Garrett calls ‘the largest sell-off of common space since the enclosures of the 17th and 18th century’, with London as the ‘epicentre of the firesale’. POPS look like any other public space, and are available for people to gather and use, but they exist outside the normal law of the land: people can use them but these are not their spaces. Ultimately, it is the landowner who sets the terms for public use, which it can do as a matter of ‘policy’, simply by issuing a statement or writing an internal document. </p><h2>The growth in state regulation&nbsp;&nbsp;</h2><p>Yet at the same time as POPS, there has also been a massive growth in state regulation over publicly owned spaces in the UK. Indeed, in some cases the local authority has acted in a not dissimilar manner to a private landowner. When I investigated local councils’ restrictions on local people handing out leaflets, one council said that as the ‘freeholder’ of the space, it had decided to restrict leafleting as a matter of ‘policy’. Woking Council had a ‘Public Realm Usage Policy’, which orchestrated every possible use of public space, specifying exactly where activities such as leafleting and charity collection could be carried out, and how often and under what conditions. Members of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign were prevented from handing out leaflets in Woking town centre: they were told that they must get approval from the council for their leaflets, and also to gain public liability insurance. Like More London, the council was merely establishing ‘policy’ for a public space, which it appeared to consider as its own.</p><h2 class="mag-quote-center">Dispersal powers have been used against protesters to bar them from certain public spaces</h2><p>The legal powers that allow the restriction of protest are now many and various. Councils have the power to limit leafleting under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005: though political leafleting is supposed to be exempt, a number of protestors have been stopped from handing out leaflets under these powers. Dispersal powers have been used against protesters to bar them from certain public spaces. <a href="https://liverpooliww.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/liverpool-iww- condemns-police- use-of-dispersal-notices- against-activists/">Merseyside Police using the powerson consecutive weekends in 2014</a>, including against activists who were chatting and deciding which pub to go to for a drink. <a href="https://netpol.org/2015/02/19/dispersal-orders-aylesbury-estate/">Police used dispersal powers to remove protesters against the redevelopment of a Southwark estate in 2015</a>. Westminster Police dispersed street drinkers and rough sleepers from Trafalgar Square in the same year, <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/police-launch- two-day- crackdown-on- trafalgar-square-squatters-9989664.html)">along with activists who were preparing to hand out meals to the homeless</a>. </p><h2>Restrictions across the political spectrum</h2><p>Protesters of all political camps are being targeted. Christian anti-abortion protesters in Ealing have been threatened with a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), banning them from holding a vigil outside an abortion clinic. Some of these protesters appear to have been guilty of harassment and obstruction of women visiting the clinic, and they should legally be held to account for these offences. However, other protesters have just held a silent vigil on the grass opposite the clinic, offering women a leaflet that – as well as criticising abortion – offers help with accommodation and other financial support. They say they are particularly targeting women, such as illegal immigrants, who may only be having an abortion because they cannot afford to have a child. In any case, the concept of a ‘buffer zone’ on a public street is an extremely concerning development, which could in principle lead to similar zones around all kinds of public or private buildings. In a sense, a charity is asserting a private interest over a public space, seeking to dictate what may and may not occur in it, beyond the ordinary obedience to the laws of the land.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The pattern now is that of a general encroachment on public spaces by state and non-state bodies</p><p>So while POPS are important, they are only half the story. The pattern now is that of a general encroachment on public spaces by state and non-state bodies, with the restriction on the rights of protest or gathering of all political and ethical camps. We should stand firmly against these restrictions. While times have changed since the Hyde Park rallies, the principleat stake is the same as the one for which they broke the railings in 1866: that public spaces should be for free public use, including, or especially, for protest.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Josie Appleton Wed, 06 Dec 2017 16:12:52 +0000 Josie Appleton 115092 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How is private security in Hungary threatening the right to protest? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/private-security-hungary <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The practice of private security aggressively policing public events is a new reality in Hungary – even though it was found to be unlawful in spring 2017.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HnOix0EqYpk" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p> <p>In recent years, employees of private security agencies have been deployed by the Hungarian state during public events, alongside official law enforcement.</p> <p>Not restricted by the regulations that bind the Hungarian police force, these private actors have total impunity, and often resort to verbal and physical abuse to stifle protests.&nbsp;</p> <p>2016 was a busy year for these private actors. In July, civilians gathered in Budapest to protest against plans to transform a green space into a museum complex. Private security forces linked to the governing party confronted the peaceful protesters with pepper spray, and left some with broken bones. Earlier in the year, on 23 February, muscle-bound men prevented István Nyakó, a politician from the main opposition party, from being the first to submit a referendum question on the government’s Sunday shopping ban. Nyakó’s application was annulled as a result (new electoral law states that only one referendum question can be examined at a time). On a public holiday in October, employees of a private security company denied many protesters access to a public gathering. They also confiscated whistles from civilians who wanted to use them to express their grievances during the official speeches.</p> <p>On the initiative of the HCLU, on 22 March 2017, the ombudsman found the practice of private companies policing state events to be unlawful. However, the situation has not changed.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag INCLO and HCLU Wed, 06 Dec 2017 14:56:13 +0000 INCLO and HCLU 115114 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Arpad Schilling: social protest and individual responsibility in Hungary https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/arpad-schilling-protest-in-hungary <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite the huge demonstration in support of the Central European University in April 2017, Hungarian theatre director Arpad Schilling feels isolated in his dissent.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-30788961_Photo by Xinhua:Sipa USA:PA images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-30788961_Photo by Xinhua:Sipa USA:PA images.jpg" alt="thousands marching in support of the Central European University in Budapest, hungary" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The huge protest in Budapest in April 2017 in support of the Soros-funded Central European University was one of the biggest anti-government protests of the past few years. Image: Xinhua/Sipa USA/PA images. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p dir="ltr">In April 2017, Hungarian theatre director Arpad Schilling staged a one-man protest against 'Stop Brussels!', a nationwide survey launched by the Hungarian government in advance of the next general election in 2018. The survey consisted of six questions that were all overtly anti-EU and anti-immigration in tone, and bore the signature of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. It was posted to all eligible voters in the country.</p><p dir="ltr">Schilling, a well-known independent theatre director and social activist, answered the questionnaire in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRWMQNJeSG8&amp;t=133s">video recording</a>, as if talking directly to Orban. In a symbolic gesture of defiance, he wore no trousers to highlight the vulnerability of being a lone protester. And, just like his Prime Minister, who is known for his verbal battering of the representatives in the EU parliament, he pulled no punches. Sporting just underpants, a T-shirt, socks and slippers, the 43-year-old frequently stopped to point at the camera to ask: “Are you listening, Viktor? Listen, because I am talking to you!”</p><h2 dir="ltr">The context: the Hungarian government’s ‘consultations’</h2><p dir="ltr">Since it came to power with a two-thirds majority in 2010, the Hungarian government has rolled out a series of seven ‘consultations’, on topics ranging from the contents of a new constitution to pension schemes, education, immigration and non-governmental organisations.</p><p dir="ltr">When an entirely new constitution was finally adopted by the governing FIDESZ (The Hungarian Civic Alliance party) in April 2011, the government invoked popular support to carry through all the changes. Opponents decried that the document removed many checks and balances, affecting the civil liberties and centralising power.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Critics also claim that the results of the consultations help the governing party update its database of supporters, while the loaded tone of the questionnaire promotes FIDESZ’s&nbsp;<span>illiberal agenda&nbsp;</span>ahead of the spring elections in 2018.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><h2 dir="ltr">George Soros and educational freedoms</h2><p dir="ltr">More recently, the government’s official public discourse vilified the work of non-governmental organisations that received financial support from foreign sources, singling out the Hungarian-born billionaire and philanthropist George Soros. It claimed that these actors are undermining Hungary’s sovereignty, security and national and cultural identity.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">A FIDESZ politician publicly referred to Soros as Satan, associating his name with abortion, same-sex marriages and a general hatred of Europe’s Christian traditions</p><p dir="ltr">As a result, Soros’s <a href="https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rebuilding-refugee-asylum-system-by-george-soros-2015-09">proposal</a> for a more humane policy towards people who came to Europe fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands, was met in Hungary with another national survey launched in October this year. The government’s communication framed the recommendations as a threat and misinterpreted them, as part of the Soros-EU conspiracy to resettle migrants across Europe against the will of the member states. A FIDESZ politician publicly referred to Soros as Satan, associating his name with abortion, same-sex marriages and a general hatred of Europe’s Christian traditions.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier in the year, the Soros-funded Central European University (CEU), known for its emphasis on teaching subjects that promote democracy and human rights, became the main target of higher education regulations violating academic freedom, which continues to keep the university in limbo about whether it will be forced out of the country. The move brought tens of thousands of staff, students and supporters of academic freedom onto the streets in April 2017 – one of the biggest public expressions of civic grievance in recent years.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Schilling_Arpad 2_Nov2017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Schilling_Arpad 2_Nov2017.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arpad Schilling in November 2017. Image: Andreea Anca. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2>Protest and personal responsibility</h2><p dir="ltr">Schilling’s ten-minute film did go viral on social media, attracting a wave of sympathy. But the fierce criticism and vicious insults it provoked also emphasised his isolation. And despite the huge demonstration in support of the Central European University, he feels that there is a reluctance of many Hungarians when it comes to taking a public stand on issues such as corruption, racism and inequality.</p><p dir="ltr">Schilling’s feeling of isolation is heightened by the lack of open solidarity from his artist peers who, he thinks, should assume public responsibility and make better use of their public role, helping society to develop. “There seems to be no understanding that being able to think freely in everyday life, as a regular citizen, and expressing that, is in some ways more important than your profession.”</p><p dir="ltr">The director of a cultural institution that serves “as a medium of access to culture and new ideas” should feel, Schilling believes, greater social responsibility. For the father of two, the question of personal responsibility is central to both work and everyday life. ”I feel that Hungary’s actions are also affecting me and I am responsible for what is going on,” Schilling said in a recent interview with INCLO. “Look at what happened with the migrants; I carry my own guilt for the decisions made by the politicians.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“I feel that art in itself is not enough to achieve a meaningful social change. It is a useful tool but an insufficient one”</p><p dir="ltr">Schilling’s sense of social responsibility has been expressed over the years by his theatre productions, which have often put a spotlight on the ills of Hungarian society, zooming on issues of poverty, the national health system and corruption. But he also expresses discontent beyond the realms of the theatre, and insists that art is just a medium he uses to help with his social message: “I feel that art in itself is not enough to achieve a meaningful social change. It is a useful tool but an insufficient one.”</p><p dir="ltr">He also makes a clear distinction between his theatrical profession and his social mission: “In theatre, even Hitler is right. It is important to understand the motivation of people,” he says, referring to drama's power to show things in all their complexity and from different – and even abhorrent – perspectives. “This is where I need to differentiate and not create propaganda pieces.”</p><p dir="ltr">”As an activist, I can take to the streets to protest against the fact that people with refugee status are harassed on the streets, for instance. There are no 'two sides' there.”</p><p dir="ltr">In Schilling’s view, most Hungarian artists make only indirect references to politics in their performances, however, thereby keeping alive the 1980s tradition of quiet dissent. He traces the roots of this public “silence” further back in history, however, to the compromise reached by Hungarian society after its brave but unsuccessful uprising against the Soviet regime in 1956. In exchange for the most liberal system behind the Iron Curtain, he says, a tacit agreement was reached between the communist leadership and the people, whereby the people withheld public criticism, and the revolution was not mentioned in public for almost three more decades.</p><p dir="ltr">“This attitude is not helping the art world to develop into an emancipated and mature community. Then for those few hundred of us who make theatre, that message of responsible citizenship will not come through,” Schilling says. “Instead, the message is: 'Don’t speak out and don’t assume responsibility, just wink in secret agreement.'”</p><h2 dir="ltr">Hungarian youth and political engagement</h2><p dir="ltr">Hungary’s theatre community has for the time being lost the opportunity of seeing Schilling’s effervescent and raw plays; he has decided to currently work only in theatres outside Hungary, in a form of protest at the lack of solidarity in Hungary’s artistic circles and at the political situation of the country. He has instead been working on an experimental play at a theatre in Sankt Pölten, Austria, that reflects on how the rise of the far right is related to the “irresponsibility of the intellectual left and their inability to have a realistic understanding of their context.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Someone could spend 20 years in school without understanding basic concepts such as what is democracy, what does it mean to be civic and why do I have to vote?"&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">He remains related to Hungarian politics through his <a href="http://kretakor.eu/en/about/">Kréta Kör Foundation</a>, which runs educational projects for young people aged 14-21, focusing on fundamental questions related to democracy, society and our environment that the Hungarian school system currently fails to address. “Someone could spend 20 years in school without understanding basic concepts such as what is democracy, what does it mean to be civic, why do I have to vote and what is a political party anyway?" Schilling says.</p><p dir="ltr">Schilling and his fellow activists will have to think of ingenious ways to attract the first of generation of participants, as collaboration between schools and Kréta Kör was halted a few years ago by an official ban preventing schools from cooperating with blacklisted organisations.</p><h3 dir="ltr">Liberal democracy on hold</h3><p dir="ltr">Despite Schilling’s enthusiasm for his new social project, he fears that the battle he is fighting might be lost in the coming decades to growing illiberalism in Hungary, the region and beyond. The more he travels, he says, the more he understands that Europe might slide deeper into “demagogy, nationalism, racism and wall building,” referring to the growing popularity of nationalist and xenophobic politics not only in Hungary but also in countries such as Austria and Poland.</p><p dir="ltr">“This kind of thinking seems to be spreading like a pest all over Europe. In order to change things in the long run, the thinking masses need a new explosion of thought, and to take a new stand.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag INCLO and HCLU Tue, 05 Dec 2017 14:33:57 +0000 INCLO and HCLU 115091 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Australia: how Bob Brown challenged Tasmania's anti-protest laws https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/tasmania-anti-protest-laws <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, and Jessica Hoyt made history when they won a High Court challenge to Tasmania's anti-protest laws in October 2017 – a clear articulation of how protest is protected by the Constitution.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="aaHRLCHeadingB"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Rainforest action network_Flickr.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Rainforest action network_Flickr.jpg" alt="Policeman in Tasmania approaching a protest with banners in the forest" title="" width="620" height="412" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Rainforest Action Network/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="aaHRLCHeadingB"><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p class="aaHRLCHeadingB">It was not Bob Brown’s first arrest, but it’s probably the one he’ll remember best.</p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">In January last year, the 71-year-old former Australian Senator and leader of the Australian Greens was walking in a small group through the Lapoinya Forest, in the north-west of the island state of Tasmania. The year before, to the dismay of local residents and environmentalists, Forestry Tasmania had announced a plan to clear-fell 49 hectares of the forest, and the machinery had rolled in that month. Brown was there to object to the logging and draw attention to the natural beauty and wildlife that would be lost. After the group came upon the first Forestry Tasmania bulldozer, two police officers approached and told them to leave the area. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">“I thought of the Tasmanian devils and quolls which will die in the operation,” Brown later <a href="https://newmatilda.com/2016/01/27/bob-brown-why-risked-jail-protecting-lapoinya/">wrote</a>. “I also thought of the potential penalty of five years in jail. But at what stage do we human beings get out of our comfort zone for the planet’s beleaguered wildlife, which is now going extinct at the greatest rate in human history?” </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Brown refused to leave. <a href="https://twitter.com/BobBrownFndn/status/691545549410062337?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fnewmatilda.com%2F2016%2F01%2F27%2Fbob-brown-why-risked-jail-protecting-lapoinya%2F">Footage</a> from the day shows him being told he is under arrest, and quietly agreeing to accompany the officer to his car so he could be charged at a local police station.</p><p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Five days earlier, another Tasmanian had been arrested and charged while engaging in peaceful protest in the Lapoinya. Jessica Hoyt, a 35-year-old nurse and mother who grew up in the Lapoinya area and now lives in Tasmania’s capital, had been part of a group that had entered the forestry area and then been escorted away. When Hoyt returned to the logging area the next day, she was arrested.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Brown and Hoyt were among the first to be charged under laws that significantly clamped down on environmental protest&nbsp;</p><p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Brown and Hoyt were among the first people to be charged under laws that significantly clamped down on environmental protest in Tasmania, introducing harsh penalties for peaceful protesters. A year and a half on, they would end up making constitutional history when they successfully challenged those laws in Australia’s High Court.</p> <h2>Tasmania’s anti-protest laws </h2> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">The controversial laws passed by Tasmania’s Parliament just over a year earlier were not subtle in their targeting of protest. It was right there in the legislation’s name: the ‘Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act’. The government argued that it needed to protect businesses operating in Tasmania’s forests from the inconvenience visited on them by protesters. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Importantly, the laws did not only target protesters – they <em>only</em> applied to protesters. The restrictions on movement the law provided for applied only to people engaged in any activity that promoted “awareness of or support for … an opinion, or belief, in respect of a political, environmental, social, cultural or economic issue” taking place on business premises. Despite the government’s <a href="http://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/talking-point-protest-hallmark-of-open-society/news-story/fb28e4ebf28640f4c2f5007df62d777a">promises</a> that “mum and dad-type protesters” would not be captured by the law, there was no carve-out for peaceful protesters. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Of particular concern were the law’s heavy penalties and apparent arbitrariness. For causing or threatening damage to a business, an activist could go to prison for five years. For refusing to leave an area when directed to by police, a protester might have to pay AUD 10,000 (around £5,650). When directing a person to leave an area, a police officer could also ban them from returning for the next three months. Most curiously, a person would not contravene that three-month exclusion order if they took part in a procession that passed through the area “at a reasonable speed, once on any day.” The statute provided no guidance for police or protesters to work out what a ‘reasonable speed’ might be. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Ahead of the legislation’s passage, United Nations experts urged the Tasmanian Parliament to reconsider. “The bill would have the chilling effect of silencing dissenters and outlawing speech protected by international human rights law,” <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15002&amp;LangID=E">said</a> the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye. Those international voices joined those of domestic civil society groups rejecting the law as a disproportionate burden on freedom of expression. </p> <h2>A “business premises”: the Lapoinya Forest</h2> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Consistently with the Tasmanian government’s pro-business rationale, the law applied to protest activities on “business premises” and “business access areas”. As the High Court would later observe, “the term ‘business premises’ does not evoke images of forest lands”. But the term was defined to include “forestry land” where work like logging or planting is being carried out, and “business access areas” was defined to mean land, like a road, that enabled access to a premises. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Brown and Hoyt did not see the Lapoinya as a “business premises”. For them, the Lapoinya was a unique ecosystem, home to the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world, the endangered Giant Tasmanian Freshwater Crayfish, a lobster that – remarkably – can live for 60 years and grow to the size of medium dog. Also lurking in the Lapoinya is a disease-free population of Tasmanian devils, a marsupial which was totally wiped out on mainland Australia. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">That wildlife and the forest’s beauty motivated residents, including Jessica Hoyt and her parents, to form the Forests of Lapoinya Action Group after Forestry Tasmania announced its plan to start logging. Hoyt’s journey into Lapoinya that Monday was her first ever protest. But, she later said, she was “left with no other choice.” </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Environmental activism has become an integral part of Tasmanian politics</p><p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">The Action Group was just the latest iteration of a strong legacy of environmental activism in Tasmania. Bob Brown, a seasoned activist, shot to prominence after he was arrested for blockading the damming of Tasmania’s wild Franklin River in the 1980s. The huge social movement opposing the dam led the river to be declared a world heritage area and for the federal government to intervene and prevent the construction of the dam, over the objection of the Tasmanian government. Ten years ago, environmentalists (including Brown) successfully mobilised against a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley that was supported by both major parties in the Tasmanian Parliament. On several occasions thousands of people marched in Tasmania to protest the mill, and the government withdrew its support. Environmental activism has become an integral part of Tasmanian politics, and a celebrated part of Australia’s history.&nbsp; <strong></strong></p> <h2>Environmentalism under attack</h2> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Alongside this history of environmentalism, a new and disturbing trend is emerging Australia-wide: at the urging of big business, governments are seeking to clamp down on environmental activism. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Tasmania’s anti-protest laws were not a standalone development. In response to protests against coal seam gas, the New South Wales state parliament fulfilled a <a href="http://www.nswmining.com.au/menu/media/news/2014/november/premier-s-address-at-nsw-mining-industry-suppliers">promise</a> made by the Premier to the mining industry and passed similar laws in 2016, beefing up police powers and penalties for people who interrupted mining operations. Along similar lines, in early 2015 the Western Australian government proposed anti-protest laws to stop what they described as “extreme protest movements”. However, the United Nations Human Rights Office said the Western Australian bill would “result in criminalising lawful protests and silencing environmentalists and human rights defenders.” The law was abandoned after the conservative government lost office in 2017. <strong></strong></p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Gag clauses and conditional funding have been used to prevent civil society groups from speaking out against government policy</p><p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">And the assault on environmental activism is not just coming from Australian state governments. Developments at the national level have also made it harder for civil society organisations to advocate for positive change in Australian society. Governments have used funding agreements with community organisations to deter or wholesale prevent them from engaging in public debate. Since 2015, community legal centres have been prohibited from using Australian government funding to do law reform, policy or advocacy work. Similar gag clauses and conditional funding have been used by other government and in other contexts to prevent civil society groups from speaking out against government policy. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">Tax law is another vehicle that the government is threatening to use to shrink the space for civil society advocacy. <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/george-christensen-apologises-but-environment-groups-fear-tax-witchhunt-could-cost-them-millions-20150716-gidk15.html">Politicians</a> <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/environmental-groups-face-tax-deductibility-loss/6385246">and</a> industry bodies like the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/01/mining-lobby-calls-for-controls-on-environmental-charities-spending-on-advocacyhttps:/theconversation.com/why-has-bhp-distanced-itself-from-legal-threat-to-environment-groups-87093">Minerals Council of Australia</a> have <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-has-bhp-distanced-itself-from-legal-threat-to-environment-groups-87093">argued</a> that charities with ‘Deductible Gift Recipient’ tax status, a vital tool to attract donations, should only&nbsp; conduct limited advocacy. Somewhat arbitrarily, a majority of a parliamentary environment committee recommended last year that DGR status only be available to environmental organisations that spend 25 per cent of their annual expenditure on remediation work, <a href="http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22publications%2Ftabledpapers%2F97336308-f022-4883-bbc8-b6a4f569e57c%22">like</a> planting trees. A more recent Treasury paper has <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/tax-deductible-gift-recipient-reform-opportunities/">suggested</a> increasing that to 50 per cent. The Australian government has also <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/07/limiting-foreign-donation-ban-to-political-parties-creates-activist-loophole">suggested</a> that non-government organisations engaging in advocacy be banned from accepting international donations. </p> <h2>To the High Court</h2> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">After Brown and Hoyt were arrested under the Tasmanian anti-protest laws, they were supposed to face their charges in the local court in Tasmania. Instead, they decided to go to Australia’s highest court and challenge the law under the Australian Constitution.&nbsp;The attacks on civil society by government and business were a motivating factor. “The Tasmanian anti-protest laws are part of the global purchase of democracy by corporations. Corporations lobby weak politicians to legislate against the time-honoured rights of the people,” Bob Brown later <a href="https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjg0IHB17_XAhWEI5QKHenqAiwQFggoMAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bobbrown.org.au%2Fhighcourtruley_18102017&amp;usg=AOvVaw2Nsuod3A41qPzrsn7s1jKV">said</a>. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">It was to be an uphill battle: unlike other Western democracies, Australia does not have comprehensive human rights protection at the national level. Instead of a Bill of Rights, constitutional rights protection can be described as patchwork at best. Brown and Hoyt had to rely on something called the implied freedom of political communication: the idea developed by the High Court that Australia’s political system of representative government requires voters to be able to express and hear ideas. Accordingly, governments and laws can’t disproportionately restrict communication on political matters. However, it is a freedom, rather than a freestanding right; it is doctrinally complicated; and compared to other constitutional courts, the High Court has traditionally been reluctant to intervene and overrule policy decisions of elected politicians. On top of that legal background, Brown and Hoyt were opposed not just by Tasmania, but also by the Australian government and all but one state. (The Human Rights Law Centre filed an <em>amicus curiae</em> brief supporting Brown and Hoyt.) </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">But the principle was too important. Speaking outside court in May this year, Brown said: “Had these laws been in place a couple of decades ago the Franklin River would be dammed. The tropical rainforest of Queensland would be largely cut up … We’re here to defend the right of all Australians into the future to be able to show environmental destruction where it takes place.”</p> <h2>A constitutional right to protest</h2> <p>In October 2017, the seven judges of the High Court announced their verdict: it was a victory for Bob Brown and Jessica Hoyt, and for protesters throughout the country. &nbsp;</p> <p>Three judges, including Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, found that the ambiguity of the law would deter protesters. They found that it would be difficult for protesters and police officers alike to work out whether a particular area was a “business premises” or a “business access area”, and therefore whether the law applied or not. That difficulty was aptly demonstrated by the fact that the charges against Brown and Hoyt were dropped in June because prosecutors determined that, at the time of their arrests, neither of them were in an area to which the law applied. Those judges accepted that protecting forest operations from disruption from protest was a legitimate legislative purpose, but several of the law’s measures had nothing to do with preventing damage and disruption, and the rest were unnecessary in light of existing, less draconian law.&nbsp; <strong></strong></p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">The other four judges said their piece in solo judgments. Justice Stephen Gageler agreed with the result, but for different reasons. He was particularly concerned that <em>protesters</em>, and a particular political viewpoint, were singled out. For example, if a protest group entered an area of forest operations, they would be treated differently to a school group walking through the exact same place, even if the disruption to the logging were the same. (Other judges did not think that the element of discrimination was so important.) The breadth of discretion awarded to police created a substantial burden on political communication, and was not necessary to protect against conduct that interfered with forest operations. </p> <p>Justice Geoffrey Nettle agreed that the extent of the powers granted to police meant the freedom was burdened, and that preventing obstruction of business activities was a legitimate purpose. However, the measures were not adequately balanced to that purpose. </p> <p>Justices Michelle Gordon and James Edelman departed from the majority in finding the law mostly and completely constitutional, respectively. Justice Gordon found one aspect of the law irrational – the ban on entering a “business access area” for four days after being directed to leave it. However, the rest of the law only made unlawful what was already unlawful under a different Tasmanian law. Justice Edelman similarly wrote that the law only applied to conduct that was already illegal.&nbsp; </p> <h2>Where to from here?</h2> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal"><a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/HCA/2017/43.html"><em>Brown v Tasmania</em></a><em> </em>is a landmark decision for the right to protest in Australia. The court’s decision is the clearest articulation ever of how protest is protected by the Constitution. Themes across the judgments will probably prove important in future cases and when governments are contemplating introducing protest-restricting legislation. Brown and Hoyt argued that it was necessary that they be on site for their protest to be effective – so they could broadcast images of the environmental destruction they opposed. As Justice Nettle put it: “Media coverage, including social media coverage, of on-site protests enables images of the threatened environment to be broadcast and disseminated widely, and the public is more likely to take an interest in an environmental issue when it can see the environment sought to be protected.” That meant that legislation, like the anti-protest laws before the court, which prevented them from going near logging posed a bigger challenge to the right to protest. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">The justices also took into account the significant history of political protests in Tasmania in bringing about the change needed to protect now treasured wilderness areas. The fact that protest had been an important tool to creating that change added to the burden that these laws placed on political communication.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The project promises to turn environmental direct action into a major battle ground in Australia in the near future</p> <p>Another notable theme across the judgments was the general acceptance that protecting business interests was a legitimate purpose for the law to pursue. Where other governments have sought to justify laws that restrict protest by citing safety, the Tasmanian government was more forthright in its rhetoric, talking about the rights of business to be free of interference.&nbsp; </p> <p>In the immediate future, the High Court’s decision could lead to a challenge to New South Wales’ anti-protest laws. The Environmental Defenders Organisation has <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/call-to-scrap-nsw-antiprotest-laws-after-high-court-decision-20171018-gz3g7e.html">stated</a> that it’s seeking advice on how the <em>Brown </em>decision affects prospects of success. </p> <p>In the longer term, the court’s decision will be a boon to activists. A flashpoint for the fight against climate change in Australia is the controversial Carmichael coal mine, which the company Adani is pursuing in the state of Queensland. So far, legal and financial hurdles have stalled the construction of the mine, which critics <a href="http://www.stopadani.com/why_stop_adani">say</a> will drive climate change, threaten groundwater systems, and disregard the rights of Indigenous Australians to their traditional lands. The project promises to turn environmental direct action into a major battle ground in Australia in the near future. With strong incentives for politicians and business to try to stifle environmentalists’ dissent, the High Court’s ruling will give protesters some protection from overreach. &nbsp;</p> <p>Bob Brown thought as much in the wake of the judgment. “Today is a great day for the forests, wildlife and all of nature in Tasmania and around Australia and a great day for the fundamental right of Australians to peaceful protest,” he <a href="http://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/high-court-strikes-down-tasmanias-antiprotest-laws/news-story/f8e228d57fda09d11def57599530d1d5">told</a> the media. “Those calling for harsh penalties against peaceful citizens protesting Adani mine have been put back in their place by the High Court.”</p> <p>Jessica Hoyt said that she planned to marry her partner of 11 years in the forest the following week. </p> <p class="aaHRLCBodytextakaNormal">“I take some comfort that even though we lost our beautiful forest, Lapoinya meant something,” Hoyt said. “It meant that this law could be challenged. It is not OK to create legislation that only serves corporate business interests and it’s time for politicians to start listening to the people, to community. Never let fear stand in the way of what is right. Lapoinya, this was for you.”</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Hannah Ryan and Emily Howie Mon, 04 Dec 2017 17:59:18 +0000 Hannah Ryan and Emily Howie 115066 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Six reasons why protest is so important for democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/six-reasons-why-protest-is-so-important <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="color: #434343;">Why is protest so fundamental for human rights and democratic society? Here are six basic reasons why we need to protect and exercise the right to protest.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/International Women&#039;s Day March 29 June 2017, Los Angles. Molly Adams:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/International Women&#039;s Day March 29 June 2017, Los Angles. Molly Adams:Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="large demonstration of women protesting with placards" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>International Women’s Day March, 29 June 2017, Los Angeles. Image: Molly Adams/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>This listicle is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a><span>, a partnership&nbsp;</span><em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></p><h2><strong>1. People realise that they are not alone</strong></h2><p><strong></strong>One way in which the establishment maintains its power is by creating a dominant discourse from which dissidents’ views are excluded. If people think differently, they may feel isolated, marginalised and powerless. Public demonstrations and marches empower people by showing them that there are thousands of people who think the same things.</p> <h2><strong>2. By protesting, we alter the agenda and start a debate</strong></h2><p><strong></strong>Those in power may try to ignore us, but if there are enough protesters then they will feel the need to come up with reasons why all of the protesters are wrong. That is when the debate begins and argument becomes possible.</p> <h2><strong>3. In an electoral democracy, protest provides an essential voice for minority groups</strong></h2><p><strong></strong>The classic theorists of representational government recognised that universal suffrage and majority voting threaten to impose the ‘tyranny of the majority’ and override the rights of minorities. Protests are a vital corrective to majority rule.</p> <h2><strong>4. Sometimes we win!</strong></h2><p><strong></strong>If there are enough protesters, the policies of those in power may become unworkable. When the UK government introduce the flat-rate Poll Tax in 1990, huge numbers of people protested and refused to pay the tax. It became clear that prosecuting everyone who refused would be impossible, chaos threatened, and the government abolished the tax.</p> <h2><strong>5. Sometimes we win in ways we had not intended or planned</strong></h2><p><strong></strong>Political events are unpredictable. The protests against nuclear cruise missiles at Greenham Common in the UK in the 1980s appeared to have failed when the missiles were installed, but the protests had forced the US and UK governments into saying that they had to deploy the missiles only because the Soviet Union was doing the same. When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union and said that he was willing to make an agreement to withdraw all the missiles, the Western governments could not go back on what they had said. The missiles were withdrawn, and Greenham Common is now public parkland.</p> <h2><strong>6. Sometimes we win but it takes a generation or more</strong></h2><p><strong></strong>At the time it may feel that it's going nowhere; that those in power are stuck in a certain mindset and cannot change their thinking. But then a new generation may come along, unencumbered by past thinking, and see that the views of the protesters were just common sense. Think of the huge turnaround in attitudes to gay people over a couple of generations.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Richard Norman Mon, 04 Dec 2017 17:02:43 +0000 Richard Norman 115064 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Interview with Donatella della Porta: the growing criminalisation of protest https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest-donatella-della-porta-interview <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How and where is criminalisation of protest a growing trend? Who are the actors at play? And what are the dangers signs we should be looking out for?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-31969869_ David Young:DPA:PA Images_JUly 2017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-31969869_ David Young:DPA:PA Images_JUly 2017.jpg" alt="Two protesters in Hamburg are aggressively led away by a group of riot police" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-G20 protesters in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017. Image: David Young/DPA/PA Images.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>INTERVIEW: ANNA NORMAN</p><h2><strong>Anna Norman (AN): Is criminalisation of protest a growing trend in Europe and around the world? Can you talk about ways that protest is being repressed by different states.</strong></h2> <p>Donatella della Porta (DP): I think it is a growing trend. I don't have quantitative data to show this, but there are many signals. There is a growing criminalisation of protest in ‘hybrid’ regimes, but also in democratic countries. In the hybrid regimes, some countries are going more and more in the direction of repression. Turkey is one example. Hungary is another – the criminalisation of protest has been developing very quickly there, with the invention of new types of crimes and also the implementation of very old provisions in the legal system. In Turkey, the attempted coup d’état [in 2016] is being used as an excuse to implement a lot of repression, on the basis of claimed contacts with the golpistas; and [repressive powers] have been used very broadly against journalists and activists. We have been doing some research on groups that support refugees; these types of groups are actually quite moderate in their claims, yet charities in countries like Turkey are less and less able to do voluntary work. There is less open repression in Hungary, where it’s more about public stigmatisation, with NGOs being accused of being Soros-financed, and acting against Hungary and so on. </p> <p>What is striking is that this increasing criminalisation of even voluntary types of work is developing very quickly, even in democratic systems. In the UK, ‘crimes’ such as sleeping rough have been used against migrants to expel them. And data collected by NGOs has been misused. In Mediterranean countries, NGOs such as Jugend Rettet and also Save the Children, have been accused of helping migrants and of helping the clandestine traffic of human beings; some activists have been put on trial. And types of legal provisions that were conceived for very different types of crimes are now being used against peaceful protesters, or against political activities.</p> <p>Take also the response to the recent civil disobedience in Catalonia, where people who were acting peacefully have been put in prison. The government has tried to justify the violent response by the police against Catalans who went to vote in their referendum on 1 October through accusations of sedition and rebellion.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There are always tendencies by police to ask for more power, and by law and order coalitions to see solutions to problems in increasing repression</p> <p>In the United States at the moment there is also enormous use of coercive power against opposition, with recent movements like Black Lives Matter subject to brutal forms of repression. What’s more, terrorism and other forms of political violence are used to justify the massive use of state surveillance against activists and citizens. The powers of border police to control your phones and your computers – even if you haven’t been accused of anything – have increased dramatically.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>AN: Anti-terrorism laws and the refugee crisis have been used by states as a way of repressing protest and social movements. Is this an ideological strategy by some states?&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>DP: I think that there is, from a certain point of view, a strategy. There are always tendencies by police to ask for more power, and by law and order coalitions to see solutions to problems in increasing repression. There is instrumentality by some; others believe that we are in situations in which the challenges are so big that you have to reduce civil liberties. It’s certainly the case that laws and practices that were originally developed to combat terrorism are now used very broadly against political activism and social movements. Take the example of the anti-G20 protests in Hamburg [in July 2017], where the police intervened in a very violent way, using force to disperse peaceful demonstrators. And how responsibility has been put on these demonstrators and even on NGOs for the violence carried out by small groups of protesters. Police are more and more armed, Robocop-style, and coercive actions are more and more widespread and are being used more and more in non-appropriate ways to persecute legal, peaceful, non-violent protest.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The tendency by institutions has been to deny the existence of problems, and to shut down the channels that were open for talking with protesters</p> <p>When the legitimacy of governments is challenged, rather than reacting by trying to understand what is at stake and trying to devise strategies to talk with the protesters, there is to the contrary less and less possibility of opening up channels of negotiation. This was very clear during the G20 summit, which presented a strong challenge to the very legitimacy of power of the 20 leaders in Hamburg. And their response was to deny any rights to criticise. So I think also in situations of broad crisis of legitimacy, the tendency by institutions – rather than reflecting on how to solve problems – has been to deny the existence of problems, and to shut down the channels that were open for talking with protesters. </p> <p>This is a tendency that has increased since the financial crisis of 2008. What has developed further with the refugee wave is also a push to the right, which has convinced centre-right parties, and even centre-left parties that they need more and more of these repressive types of policies. So, in Germany, there was no political party, with the exception of Die Linke, that wanted to understand what went wrong in the interactions between police and the demonstrators in Hamburg. And in Spain, the Socialist party is voting with the centre-right parties to trigger Article 155, which entails also repressing peaceful movements. And in the United States, since 9/11, a growing spectrum of laws and legal provisions have been developed that actually prove to be of very little help in the struggle against terrorism, and are instead broadly used to repress activism.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-33122814_Photo by Alain Pitton_NurPhoto_Sipa USA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-33122814_Photo by Alain Pitton_NurPhoto_Sipa USA.jpg" alt="A crowd of people being pushed back by a row of riot police in Barcelona" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Police preventing people from voting in the Catalan referendum, 1 October 2017, Barcelona. Image: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA Images.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>AN: Who are the different actors at play in this increasing repression of protest, particularly through the use of anti-terrorism laws? And what role does the judiciary play?</strong></h2> <p>DP: There are many new laws concerned with crimes related to terrorism and there are more laws and regulations that give more powers – more arbitrary powers – to the police. These have also been used a lot during anti-austerity protests, such as the Occupy movements. Old laws –&nbsp;for instance, laws concerning the use of fire in public space, or against vagabonds –&nbsp;are also being reinstated. Maybe you remember during Occupy Wall Street, in New York, the laws that were used to prohibit people putting their bags down in public parks? All of these things have also been done in a very aggressive way; states have created a situated whereby use of public spaces, of squares, of parks, and so on, has become more and more controlled, less and less free. </p> <p>Judiciaries have intervened in different ways. In some cases, the judiciary has defended the right to demonstrate, while in others they have also used these types of provisions against demonstrators. You may have followed the situation in Catalonia, with the presence of two different courts with two different types of policies. The Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) is more independent from the political power, while the Audencia Nacional, which is an adaptation of the Franco-era special tribunals, has been the one that has been particularly repressive against the independence movement. This situation, of division within the judiciary, is also played out in other nations. </p> <p>In some countries there are associations of democratic judges that are struggling for laws that can be used as checks and balances on the brutality of the police. In Italy, in a few weeks time, I have been invited by judges to join a discussion on torture by the police, which has been practically relevant in Italy recently. So [as well as being an agent for repression], judiciaries have also in some cases introduced checks on repression. However, the criminalisation process doesn’t necessarily depend on the judiciary, as a typical pattern is that the police will make arrests that the judges do not agree with, and then the judges free the protesters. But in the meanwhile the demonstrations have been disrupted, escalations have been produced, people have been arrested, and so on.</p> <h2><strong>AN: Can you tell me more about the issue of state surveillance of protest, and how this contributes to increasing repression and criminalisation. And what about the role of private security forces?</strong></h2> <p>DP: This is another issue that is also of increasing relevance, and there have recently been scandals in the UK, a re-enacting of scandals, relating to the massive use of secret police infiltrations, with no political accountability. </p> <p>There are different types of private/secret police forces in different countries. Very often they're part of the secret services, and so are often directly controlled by the government, and you’ll usually have secret services for foreign affairs and secret services for internal affairs. The secret services for internal affairs –&nbsp;as well as the secret bodies within the police force – have often developed infiltration strategies, including the infiltration of peaceful groups. (There was some debate in the UK some time ago surrounding a secret police agent who infiltrated an environmentalist group.) And this is something that has been developing a lot. </p> <p>Private security is also a big concern because there are more and more, including in democratic countries, semi-private and completely privatised spaces. So, malls, airports, schools, universities… these are all spaces in which law and order types of controls are often outsourced to private police. The same can happen in factories and in shops, and so on. And in these cases, accountability is lower than it is for state police. Private police are accountable to private firms. This is not something new, it always used to be the case in the past. I remember the repression of the labour movement in Italy &nbsp;Fiat, for instance, had an internal private police force, which functioned as an anti-union force. This was heavily criticised and in some cases this type of private policing declined, but I think now it is increasing again. </p> <p>In most cases, these private and sometimes violent forces are being used against people who have very few possibilities to defend themselves – especially refugees, and migrants without papers. So this goes beyond the repression of political activism.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>AN: What are the big danger signs that we should be looking out for?</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>DP: The criminalisation of protest may have two types of effects, which are both dangerous for the political system. </p> <p>Firstly, criminalisation could be successful, creating fear in people. And when people are scared by a regime, this usually radicalises protest, because people correctly think that there is no more space for peaceful resistance. At the same time, the process of criminalisation reduces the capacity of governments to collect information about problems and from finding alliances to solve problems. The act of protest very often produces positive ideas, leading to proposals; protests make people aggregate, and this brings about mutual help, solidarity and so on. So protest brings about positive side effects in terms of solidarity, which a repressive approach would not allow to develop.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">At a certain point you need interactions between those who control coercive powers and the movements</p> <p>If criminalisation of protest is not effective – think about the Arab Spring in 2011 – then those in power also risk strong radicalisation of the protest aims. And so less and less legitimacy for representative institutions, police, political parties and so on, and they will fuel a sort of growing mis-trust in these institutions and then be something different. This can also be a positive type of development, but as the situation in Catalonia indicates, at a certain point you need interactions between those who control coercive powers and the movements. You need to interact with the outsiders; escalations are not the best way to convince people to prove their points.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>AN: What steps can we take to try to reverse the trend for criminalisation of protest and repressive state responses?</strong></h2> <p>DP: Well, I think that to stop it one needs to build broad coalitions, because the different agencies that are involved in the criminalisation are also not homogenous. So from the point of view of the legal system, I think one needs to put pressures at different levels –on national levels but also at the level of the European Union – to develop specific denunciations of these forms of repression, and to use all of the instruments that can bring about support and alliances from within these institutions. So there is a tendency in the police to align with the right, but there are also democratic unions within the police and there are units and policeman who are less keen on repression. There have been denunciations from inside the police, which are blowing against the use of some forms of legal controls on demonstrators. The judiciary is also divided. So I think one needs to use all these. There is very good knowledge by specialised groups like State Watch, or other groups specifically campaigning for civil liberties. And I think having information and spreading information and using investigative journalism is all very useful. </p> <p>Repression is hitting very hard in universities, particularly in countries considered to be hybrids between democracies and utilitarian regimes. And so there is also inside the universities resistance by academics with information about repression of freedom of teaching, research, and so on. It also makes me think of when civil rights groups mobilised against very repressive attitudes in Chile and Argentina; what was effective was to broaden the range of groups involved through networks of democratic lawyers, democratic journalists, democratic judges, NGOs, and through lobbying the United Nations and so on. And also a lot of media work. These responses were all part of an international campaign oriented to produce a boomerang effect against the dictatorship. </p> <p>We should also use resources available in democratic countries to help countries where repression is hitting hardest at the moment. So, in Turkey and Hungary, we can use resources from outside, transnational campaigns in support; for instance, the campaign that developed in support of the Turkish Academics for Peace or Central European University in Hungary.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Donatella della Porta Mon, 04 Dec 2017 14:32:31 +0000 Donatella della Porta 115058 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo: "We are no longer alone" https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/vera-jarach-interview <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Vera Jarach, one of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo – the protest movement that arose in Argentina in response to the mass disappearance of Argentines during the dictatorship&nbsp; – discusses the search for truth, memory and justice.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hSWmEEDkBdw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><em><em>This interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><div>Vera Jarach was born to a Jewish-Italian family in Milan, but her family fled to Argentina in 1939, when Vera was 10-years-old, to escape fascism. She is one of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a protest movement in Argentina that arose in response to the civic-military dictatorship of 1976–1983. Vera's daughter, Franca Jarach – her only child – was one of around 30,000 Argentines who were 'disappeared' by the dictatorship.</div><div></div><div><p> This interview was carried out in late May 2017 at the Espacio Memoria y Derechos Humanos ex Esma (ESMA) in Buenos Aires – the ex-military building where many of the 'disappeared' were taken to be tortured and later murdered. May 2017 was an important and eventful month for the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and for social justice in Argentina. On 10 May there was a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest/mothers-plaza-de-mayo">huge demonstration in Plaza de Mayo against the Supreme Court's decision to apply the so-called '2-for-1' law to Luis Muiña</a>, who was convicted in 2013 of crimes against humanity during the dictatorship. The Court's decision would have meant a dramatic reduction in Muiña's prison term.&nbsp;</p></div><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Anna Norman Mon, 04 Dec 2017 09:10:06 +0000 Anna Norman 115046 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Protest in Kenya: repressive and brutal policing has become normalised https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/repressive-policing-kenya <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>2017 has seen further violent police responses to protests against corruption and human rights violations. So how are Kenyans exercising their right to protest, and what can be done to protect this right?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-33361374_ Riot police protest in Nairobi_Tabitha Otwori_SOPA via Zuma Press_PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-33361374_ Riot police protest in Nairobi_Tabitha Otwori_SOPA via Zuma Press_PA Images.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Riot police respond to a protest in Nairobi, Kenya. Image: Tabitha Otwori/SOPA via Zuma Press/PA Images </span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>The Kenyan police force has a history of repressive response to peaceful protests, with interventions by police characterised by death, indiscriminate use of force, serious injury, abuse of firearms, unlawful arrests and detention under the pretext of maintaining law and order. These repressive responses came under sharp focus following the violence that ensued after the announcement of the presidential election results in 2007; a<a href="https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/15A00F569813F4D549257607001F459D-Full_Report.pdf">&nbsp;commission of inquiry</a>&nbsp;established to investigate the violence found that police management of the demonstrations was ‘inconsistent in its basic legal provisions, jeopardised the lives of citizens and was in many cases characterised by grossly unjustified use of deadly force.’ (A total of 405 people died of gunshot wounds, while 557 suffered gunshot injuries.)&nbsp;</p> <p>Ten years on, the Kenyan police seem to have learnt nothing, as is evident from their response to peaceful demonstrations organised by citizens, civil society and political parties in 2016 and 2017. The case studies below illustrate how the Kenyan police continue to undermine fundamental human rights and freedoms while failing to investigate a range of abuses that have been a direct result of repressive policing of public protests.</p><h2>Police violence and repression of protest</h2> <strong>1. Anti IEBC demonstrations</strong> <p>The Coalition for Reform and Democracy’s leaders and supporters campaigned to have the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) disbanded, and peaceful demonstrations were organised in different counties in Kenya from 25 April to 6 June 2017. This was after one of the daily newspapers&nbsp;reported that some officials from the commission had allegedly received bribes running into millions of shillings during the procurement of electoral materials.&nbsp;</p><p>Most of the protests began peacefully and in all instances turned violent only after police armed with anti-riot gear, live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas forcefully dispersed demonstrators. The force used by police officers saw many protestors’ sustain serious injuries; some died from gunshot wounds. Some protestors were also unlawfully arrested by police and charged with taking part in an illegal assembly in Nairobi. These protestors were later released on bond of Ksh 100,000 (1,000 USD).</p> <p>According to a report by the <a href="http://www.ipoa.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IPOA-Anti-IEBC-Report-January-2017.pdf">Independent Policing Oversight Authority</a>, 24 protestors in Kisumu County sustained gunshot injuries, while four women sustained gunshot injuries in Homa Bay County.<em> </em>These indiscriminate attacks by the police saw innocent bystanders and people in their homes shot at as police engaged protestors in running battles. A young boy, <a href="https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2016/06/06/six-year-old-boy-shot-by-police-in-kisumu-protests_c1364168">Jeremy Otieno Onyango</a>, aged six, was shot in the back while playing on the balcony of his house in Kasule-Manyatta Estate. In another incident, a one-year old-was critically injured after a tear gas canister was lobbed into their house in Migosi Estate in Kisumu.</p> <p>In Nairobi, opposition supporters clashed with police as they marched towards the IEBC head office at Anniversary Towers in an attempt to force the commissioners out of office. As the protestors approached the gates, police fired tear gas into the crowd, thus forcing protestors to run for safety, with some sustaining serious injuries after being run over by other protestors. In Kisii County, police fired several times in the air and engaged the demonstrators in running battles. This happened barely minutes after the protestors had been addressed by their leaders at the county government headquarters. </p> <strong>2. Protests by civil society organisations</strong> <p><a href="http://www.khrc.or.ke/2015-03-04-10-37-01/press-releases/568-press-statement-by-a-section-of-the-civil-society-on-the-excessive-use-of-force-by-the-police-to-brutally-scuttle-the-anti-corruption-protest-at-freedom-corner.htm">Civil society organisations and human rights defenders</a> have borne the brunt of repressive policing practices during their peaceful protests against systemic human rights violations and corruption. Since independence in 1963, successive regimes, including the current Jubilee administration, have been bedeviled with serious allegations of embezzlement of public funds.</p> <p>In 2016, a series of scandals within the Jubilee administration caused public uproar after it was disclosed that billions of shillings had allegedly been looted by public officers or lost in botched procurement deals. <a href="https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000222121/policedisperse-anti-corruption-protesters-using-live-bullets%20accessed%2024%20May%202017KENYA">On 3 November 2017</a>, a peaceful demonstration by the Kenya Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations to express public indignation about government corruption was viciously scuttled by the police before it had&nbsp;properly started. Dressed in red T-shirts and chanting anti-corruption slogans, the protesters were in Uhuru Park preparing to embark on a procession to Harambee House.&nbsp;However, before they had even left, police surrounded all entrances to the park and used live bullets and tear gas to disperse protestors. At least 13 protesters were unlawfully arrested, while others were severely beaten up as they fled.&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the protestors stated that some police officers had disguised themselves as protestors to feed colleagues with intelligence on what the protestors were planning prior to leaving the park. J<a href="http://nchrdk.org/nchrd-k-press-statement-on-situation-of-human-rights-defenders-and-journalists-during-the-26-october-elections/">ournalists and human rights defenders</a> who have reported or documented violations during protests such as this are subjected to harassment, intimidation or prosecution by the police.</p> <strong>3. 2017 post-election violence</strong> <p>A general election was held in Kenya on 8 August 2017, with millions of Kenyans bracing the long queues to cast their votes. Three days later, the electoral results were announced with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declaring the incumbent, Uhuru Kenya, as the president elect.</p> <p>Opposition supporters from the National Super Alliance (NASA) in Mombasa, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay and Nairobi took to the streets soon after, chanting “Uhuru must go", following allegations that the vote was rigged. The police, armed with anti-riot gear and live ammunition, dispersed the protest by firing tear gas and water canisters. Protestors responded by throwing stones at the police, blocking roads and burning tyres.</p> <p>On 11 and 12 August 2017, police carried out door-to-door operations, beating up or shooting men found in their houses in Kisumu. Where the police were unable to break in they threw tear gas canisters into houses, forcing occupants out, severely beating them and then arresting them on trumped-up charges, whether or not they had taken part in the demonstrations. At least ten people, including a six-month-old baby, were killed. The baby reportedly died from severe head injuries after police violently broke into the house and subjected all its occupants to beatings with gun butts and batons.</p> <p>According to an <a href="https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/kenya1017_web.pdf">Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report</a>, police also clashed with protestors in Nairobi on 12 and 13 August 2017. In Kawangware, Mathare, Babadogo, Kibera and Dandora police actively confronted protesters, breaking up gatherings with tear gas, pepper spray from water cannons, truncheons and live ammunition – sometimes firing into the air but also directly aiming at individuals, and firing randomly into crowds and residential areas. At least 23 people were allegedly shot dead by police, three were beaten to death, three died of asphyxiation from tear gas and pepper spray and two were trampled to death. </p> <p>A<a href="http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Kenya-police-killings-IMLU-report/1056-4165204-y39315/index.html">&nbsp;report released by the Independent Medical Legal Unit</a>&nbsp;in November 2017 recorded 23 deaths following the August presidential elections. Post-mortems on 12 of the victims raised a clear case for an independent inquiry on lethal force by police. In two cases, police had noted on the P23 forms that they were shooting to protest themselves from attackers with machetes; yet the supposed attackers were shot in the back.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-26359768_Xinhua_John Okoyo_SIPA USA:PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-26359768_Xinhua_John Okoyo_SIPA USA:PA Images.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Xinhua/John Okoyo/SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><h2><span>The police response: a complete lack of accountability</span></h2> <p>The above case studies indicate that police used excessive force and brutality, including on women and vulnerable people such as children and people with disabilities. They also subjected protestors to arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention. This repressive response is now normalised and seems to be the accepted state practice on how to manage and police peaceful protests in Kenya.</p><p>However, despite multiple reports by civil society organisations and the media, the national police service in Kenya has never acknowledged or taken responsibility for any deaths by its officers. Protestors have, instead, been warned of further&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nation.co.ke/news/IG-Joseph-Boinnet-now-warns-Nasa-on-anti-IEBC-demos/1056-4139138-g4m3k8z/index.html">serious consequences</a>, while damning reports by civil society organisations have been <a href="http://theinformer.co.ke/9217/boinnet-dismisses-imlu-report-on-pev-deaths/">dismissed</a>. The police have further <a href="https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2017/10/police-havent-used-excessive-force-during-anti-iebc-demos-says-boinett/">denied the use of excessive force</a> during the anti-IEBC demonstrations, and no officer has been held to account for the blatant violation of fundamental rights and freedoms.</p> <p><a href="http://www.ipsa-police.org/images/uploaded/Pdf%20file/WISPI%20Report.pdf">A recent report released by World Internal Security and Police Index</a> ranked Kenya’s police service as the <a href="https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001259931/kenyan-police-ranked-world-s-third-worst-by-world-internal-security-and-police-inde">third worst in the world</a>. This is an indictment on the entire national police service; the general public no longer has faith in their ability to maintain law and order, despite numerous efforts made towards reforms. Kenyans continue to suffer numerous human rights violations as a result of ruthless techniques employed by the police to disperse protestors. Less than a week after the report was released, it was business as usual for the <a href="https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/11/17/why-do-they-want-to-kills-us-railas-supporters-served-tear-gas-bullets_c1671532">Kenyan police, as they violently dispersed opposition supporters</a> as they welcomed back leader of the opposition Raila Odinga from a trip to the United States. News feeds from various media houses reported multiple deaths after the police used live bullets, tear gas and water canisters to disperse protestors.</p> <h2><strong>How do we address gross human rights violations in Kenya?</strong></h2> <p>The right to freedom of expression and assembly are widely considered as cornerstones of any democratic society. These rights, enshrined under Articles 33 and 37 of the <a href="http://www.kenyalaw.org/lex/actview.xql?actid=Const2010">constitution of Kenya</a> and a number of <a href="http://www.un.org/en/udhrbook/pdf/udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf">international legal instruments</a>, have enabled citizens to publicly and legally express their grievances against the state, demand for change and hold the government to account. The role of the police is to provide security and maintain law and order, while ensuring that this is done with due regard to human rights and other fundamental freedoms.</p> <p>The national police service in Kenya is mandated to comply with constitutional standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is also guided by the provisions enshrined in the <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=public+order+management+Act+Kenya&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;client=firefox-b">Public Order Management Act</a>, which requires organisers of public protests to notify the police between 3–14 days in advance.&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite these constitutional and legal provisions, it is evident that law enforcement agencies in Kenya are determined to limit fundamental rights and freedoms at any cost. This repressive practice is not only a claw back on constitutional gains but also a breach of international law. While the acting interior cabinet secretary <a href="http://nairobinews.nation.co.ke/news/matiangi-bans-nasa-demos-nairobi-mombasa-kisumu/">issued a ban on peaceful demonstrations</a> by opposition supporters in the run up to the 26 October repeat presidential election, the High Court issued temporary orders that prevented the <a href="https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/10/17/high-court-temporarily-lifts-matiangi-ban-on-nasa-demos_c165403">police from unlawfully arresting demonstrators</a>, a clear demonstration and commitment by Kenyan courts to uphold fundamental human rights and freedoms. </p> <p>Similarly, people taking advantage of peaceful protests to commit criminal acts and other human rights violations should be held to account through courts of law. Police officers who have been implicated in human rights violations when dealing with public protests should be held to account. This should include both civil and criminal liability at individual level and command responsibility level. In the same vain, <a href="http://www.npsc.go.ke/">the National Police Service Commission</a> should institute disciplinary action against police officers implicated in committing human rights violations in the cause of policing peaceful public demonstrations.</p> <p>More importantly, the police should train all officers on public order management and the use of force as envisioned in the sixth schedule of the <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=National+Police+Service+Act+Kenya&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;client=firefox-b">National Police Service Act</a>. This would go a long way in ensuring that they are able to police protests in a manner that meets internationally accepted standards. A clear chain of command should be established by the police force to deal with situations of crowd control and management. The provision of medical services should be strictly enforced as is provided for in the sixth schedule of the National Police Act.</p> <p>Repressive policing of peaceful protest by Kenya’s police has led to systemic human rights violations; the police remain a grave threat to the human rights of freedom of expression and assembly. The use of often-lethal crowd-control weapons and unlawful use of firearms is now normalised and seem to be the accepted way of dealing with crowd control and management. This has not stopped organisers from convening peaceful demonstrations to express their dissatisfaction with critical issues of national and public importance. But peaceful protestors continue to pay the ultimate price in their quest to freely exercise their constitutional rights.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Martin Mavenjina Sun, 03 Dec 2017 20:43:28 +0000 Martin Mavenjina 115042 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Colombia Peace Agreement: participation and protest https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/colombia-peace-agreement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and FARC includes explicit aims to improve democratic participation and protect the right to protest. But how are these goals being threatened?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-33886557_Colombia_ First anniversary of the Peace Agreement in Bogota_Photo by Daniel Garzon Herazo_NurPhoto_Sipa USA_PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-33886557_Colombia_ First anniversary of the Peace Agreement in Bogota_Photo by Daniel Garzon Herazo_NurPhoto_Sipa USA_PA Images.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in Bogotá on the first anniversary of the Peace Agreement. Image: Daniel Garzon Herazo/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA Images.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>Over the past few weeks, various organisations in Colombia have been protesting about the breach of an agreement that was signed by the government and social organisations at the end of the <a href="http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/paro-agrario-las-dos-caras-de-la-protesta/356110-3">national rural strikes of 2013</a>. This agreement represents a milestone in the recent history of social mobilisation in Colombia, both because of its magnitude and impact, and because it comprised the collective demands of peasants, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian communities.</p> <p>But the protests carry an additional demand: fulfillment of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the former guerilla movement FARC-EP that was signed on 30 November 2016, following an eventful public validation process. The goal of this agreement is to consolidate ‘territorial peace’, meaning that peace benefits should reach the territories and communities that have most suffered the consequences of the war.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.altocomisionadoparalapaz.gov.co/procesos-y-conversaciones/Documentos%20compartidos/24-11-2016NuevoAcuerdoFinal.pdf">Agreement</a> responds to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpJ3O3-itI8">different aspects of the armed conflict</a> and is divided up into sections. Under ‘integral rural reform’ and ‘political participation’, solutions have been proposed for problems that originally caused the conflict. The ‘participation’ section also includes a guarantee for organisations and social movements to protest as a way to exercise the right to assemble and petition the government, as publicly stated in the constitution (Article 37).</p> <p>The agreement under ‘illicit drugs’ seeks to reform the policy against drug trafficking, including the recognition that it was a dynamic element in the conflict; the topic about ‘victims’ is aimed at restoring the rights of those who suffered the consequences of the war, while the section that deals with ‘the end of the conflict’ establishes mechanisms to facilitate the end of confrontations and the reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life.</p> <p>The novelty of the Peace Agreement is that it includes the goal of direct participatory democracy, which has been weakened by the violence of the conflict – for instance, by the existence of armed groups related to drug trafficking – and by the existence of political elites. As participation and protest are so fundamental to democracy, it’s worth exploring these elements of the Agreement in detail.</p> <h2><strong>What does the Agreement determine in relation to participation and protest?</strong></h2> <p>There are three fundamental ideas about participation in the Peace Agreement. The first is that the purpose of promoting greater participation goes beyond the implementation of the Agreement and electoral participation; the challenge is how to deepen local, regional and national democracy in Colombia.</p> <p>Second, participation must consider ethnic, gender and territorial differences, so that the peace process is not detached from the voices of its main beneficiaries: the populations that have mobilised to demand their territorial rights and those who have directly suffered the effects of armed conflict. The third fundamental idea is to promote the expansion of pluralism and guarantees of opposition both in the electoral contest and through the participation of social organisations.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There is a risk that one of the most important elements of territorial peace will lack legal support</p> <p>Regarding protest, the Agreement focuses on defining the minimum guarantees that civil society organisations and movements should have. For example, the freedom to provide alternative information during protest, the presence of dialogue between the government and organisations and the reform of laws that hinder or criminalise the right to protest. However, like the rest of the Peace Agreement, the measures and mechanisms negotiated in the ‘political participation’ section will only have legal effects when they become laws – and, in November 2017, only three regulations relating to participation have been implemented.</p> <p>Thus, despite the fact that multiple civil society organisations participated in the drafting of <a href="http://participando.co/media/docs/leyes/Documento_lineamientos_Final.pdf">guidelines for a statute of guarantees for the participation of organisations and social movements and for mobilisation and social protest</a>, the national government has not sent the respective statutory bill that regulates said issues to Congress. Thus, there is a risk that one of the most important elements of territorial peace will lack legal support.</p> <h2><strong>Threats to participation, protest and the implementation of the Agreement</strong></h2> <p>Implementation of the Agreement has been fraught with problems surrounding the involvement of civil society. For example, the <a href="https://www.dejusticia.org/publication/informe-de-monitoreo-resolucion-1325-de-naciones-unidas-colombia-2017/">gender divide</a> among those involved: only 33 per cent of the posts that have been created to implement the Peace Accord have been filled by women, while only 26 per cent of those involved in signing collective bargaining agreements have been women.</p> <p>Things are not very different when it comes to ethnic representation and involvement. Though the Agreement interprets participation as the guarantee of indigenous peoples’ right to prior consultation, only six of the Agreement’s implementation norms were reached through consultation with indigenous peoples, while Afro-descendant communities were not consulted at all.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There has been a systematic targeting and killing of leaders of social organisations that participate in protests and that support the implementation of the Agreement</p> <p>The safety of the people involved in implementing the Peace Agreement has also deteriorated in the last two years; the current protests taking place are also demanding protection and guarantees of security for rural populations. It is estimated – though there is no consensus on the figures – that there were <a href="http://www.indepaz.org.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/PANORAMA-DE-VIOLACIONES.pdf">126 murders and three forced disappearances</a> in 2016. More conservative sources report <a href="http://pacifista.co/lideres-sociales-asesinados-inicio-implementacion/">56 murders</a> so far in 2017. These attacks have been directed especially against <a href="http://www.indepaz.org.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/PANORAMA-DE-VIOLACIONES.pdf">“leaders and defenders of human rights, and members of social and political organisations, in particular leaders of community action groups, peasant and indigenous organisations, unions and land claimants".</a></p> <p>There has been a systematic targeting and killing of leaders of social organisations that participate in protests and that support the implementation of the Agreement in some departments of the country, such as Nariño, Cauca, Putumayo, César, Antioquia and Chocó. This increase in persecution runs parallel with an increase in social mobilisation <a href="http://cdn.ideaspaz.org/media/website/document/59dc0df5c5cff.pdf">over the last three years</a>.</p> <p>Participation of civil society in the Colombian peace process is vital for strengthening local governments, and for starting new cycles of development by recognising rural identities and guaranteeing citizenship. This process would help to end, or at least alleviate, the institutional exclusion that a large part of the Colombian population has experienced.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, some of the main obstacles that threaten the new democratic opportunities stated in the Agreement are the heterogeneity of the regions and territories that it focuses on, the existence of illegal economies, and the presence of armed groups and political elites that still refuse to give up power.</p> <h2><strong>The <em>cocalero</em> communities of Putumayo</strong></h2> <p>An example of how implementation of the Agreement requires different strategies depending on the context of each territory can be seen in the negotiation of the ‘Collective Agreements for the Substitution of Illegal Crops’ between the government and the ‘<em>cocalero</em>’ (‘coca-growing’) communities of Putumayo.</p> <p>Though the Agreement proposes a link between the Integral Rural Reform and the National Comprehensive Substitution Programme, there are few collective agreements that mention how these programmes will be articulated in the <em>cocalero</em> territories. But the Putumayo Regional Agreement is different, since specific measures were included to advance the establishment of these programmes, while the collective agreements subscribed in other communities are limited to the delivery of the $12,000 that the replacement programme denotes.</p> <p>The difference lies precisely in the degree of organisation that already exists in Putumayo. Negotiating a substitution plan with organisations that have worked in local development for almost five years, such as the PLADIA (Amazon Andean Integral Development Plan), is different from negotiating with fragmented communities. In Putumayo, the existence of PLADIA prior to the peace process has added another level of sophistication to the implementation of the substitution programme.</p> <p>In fact, the recent <a href="https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/pais/razones-del-paro-cocalero-en-putumayo">demonstrations</a> of the Putumayo coca movement show the challenge that institutions face to legitimise the policies that will be developed in that department. It will not be enough for the state to implement the substitution, the eradication or its security policy if it does not take into account the demands that its populations have made for more than 30 years. Even in this repressive scenario, the citizens of the territories must have the guarantees that enable them to be part of the decisions and to demand the fulfillment of the obligations by the state through the substitution programme.</p> <h2><strong>How should the Colombian state move forward with the Peace Agreement?</strong></h2> <p>It is fundamental that the national government makes progress in the legislative implementation of the Peace Agreement, particularly in the norms that advance political participation and the right of protest, as these will help to strengthen trust between the state and rural and indigenous communities.</p> <p>The state needs to understand that there is no way to consolidate its objectives in these territories without adequately assessing the regional contexts, without offering security guarantees for those who participate in the implementation of the agreement or exercise the right to protest and without taking into account what people have to say about its development. Even if it decides to adopt measures without consultation, it will be fundamental in a participatory and deliberative democracy that the communities have the tools to defend their right to protest and to demand the fulfillment of the government’s commitments. Participation, mobilisation and protest are really different sides of the same coin – that of territorial peace.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Hobeth Martínez and Luis Felipe Cruz Sat, 02 Dec 2017 19:12:33 +0000 Hobeth Martínez and Luis Felipe Cruz 115029 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rubber ball grenades and Robocops: can we trust the police to protect our protests? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/lesleyjwood-rubber-ball-grenades-and-robocops <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What is the logic behind increasingly militarised protest policing? What are the costs of this strategy? And in what ways is resistance to aggressive policing growing?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-29806760_ Michael Nigro_SIPA USA_PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-29806760_ Michael Nigro_SIPA USA_PA Images.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Riot police launched flash grenades and sprayed pepper spray during protests at Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017. Image: Michael Nigro/SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>In 2014, tanks rolled down the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, USA, flanked by Robocops clutching oversized weapons. The police wanted to end the protests against the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. But why did they act like an army? And how did they get those weapons? <a href="http://valleyadvocate.com/2017/11/06/paramilitary-policing-infiltrates-western-mass/">The militarisation of the police became front-page news</a>. Authorities scrambled to respond and called into question the US government’s program that distributes military hardware to local police forces. President Obama promised to look into it and asked that .50 caliber guns and weaponised aircraft be cut from the long list of available weaponry. Trump rescinded that directive last September.</p> <p>But the militarisation of the police goes deeper than any single government program. Defense and security industries are powerful players in policing circles, influencing police strategy, including the methods of controlling protest. Since the late 1990s, police have used pepper spray, barricades, riot control helmets, shields, stun grenades, tasers and sound cannons against many protesters. Business is booming. <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/non-lethal-weapons---global-market-outlook-2017-2023-300506362.html">The global less-lethal weapons market was $6.32 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $11.85 billion by 2023</a>. The acquisition of increasing numbers of weapons is happening in Canada, too. Speaking about the purchase of large numbers of high powered rifles, even the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Bob Paulson is <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/rcmp-commissioner-worried-about-police-militarization/">“afraid of the trend in policing for escalating military-style tools being used by law enforcement to conduct police operations.”</a>&nbsp;Indeed, in the spring of 2015, <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/jmkke3/anonymous-quebec-declares-war-on-the-montreal-cop-nicknamed-pepper-spray-man-229">Montreal police used a combination of arrests, tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse anti-austerity protesters</a>. </p> <h2>Why do states see protest as an increasing threat?</h2> <p>The weapons are only part of the problem, however. They are used against protesters partly because of a logic that sees unpredictable protests, and protests that have the potential to disrupt political and economic systems, as ‘threats’ to national security. Anti-terrorism initiatives rest on this intelligence-led logic. A 2016 RCMP intelligence report described anti-pipeline activists as “a criminal and extremist threat, seeking to promote their 'violent anti-petroleum ideology'.” Such a frame justifies infiltration, militarisation and a pre-emptive response to political authorities and police leadership.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Instead of negotiating with movement leaders, police began to combine specialised units, less-lethal weapons, barriers and infiltration</p> <p>Since the early 2000s, police have managed protesters deemed ‘threatening’ with a ‘strategic incapacitation’ approach. In a climate of increasing inequality, the 9/11 attacks, globalising policing networks and defense industry expansion, this strategy was promoted as ‘best practice’ to police forces. Instead of negotiating with movement leaders, police began to combine specialised units, less-lethal weapons, barriers and infiltration to contain, neutralise, pre-emptively arrest and intimidate. This heavy-handed approach first occurred at global justice, environmental and anti-war demonstrations and triggered condemnation by many political authorities and legal advocates, with ensuing class-action suits in the US and inquiries in Canada.&nbsp; </p> <p>The costs associated with this strategy, when combined with longstanding criticisms of racist police brutality, deepened a legitimacy crisis for the police. Since 2014, Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives have shone a spotlight on the police shootings of unarmed black people. Protests against these shootings make the connection between militarised protest policing and day-to-day racist policing inescapable. In this context, <a href="https://www.policefoundation.org/law-enforcement-must-regain-the-publics-trust/">some police leaders are asking how they might regain public trust</a>. A Gallup Poll reported that public trust in the police is at its lowest level in 22 years in the US. <a href="http://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/can-the-police-regain-trust">There is a need for police to move from the dominant ‘warrior’ mentality’ to a ‘guardian mentality’</a>, says Tracy Meares, a member of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing created by the Obama administration. Despite such recommendations, the shootings, and the protests, continue, as the tools and logics of policing remain unchanged. Indeed, in the Trump era, blunt force is celebrated.</p> <h2>Trumping up charges</h2><p>After the settlement of a lengthy class-action lawsuit by protesters in 2015 for $13 million, there now appears to be <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-police-infiltrated-inauguration-protest-group-court-papers-show/2017/04/17/f3739f44-236c-11e7-b503-9d616bd5a305_story.html?utm_term=.75ed197b49b4">a return to militarised protest policing in Washington D.C</a>. For Trump’s inauguration, the local police spent over $300,000, <a href="https://dcnlg.wordpress.com/">including $42,000 on less-lethal munitions</a>, including 140 Stinger Rubber Ball Grenades, 140 Rubber Baton Rounds, 140 Stinger rounds and 20 smoke bombs. <a href="http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a54391/how-the-government-is-turning-protesters-into-felons/">230 protesters were charged with felony and riot,</a> which carries up to a decade in prison and $25,000 fine. Such charges are not typically laid en masse. </p> <p>Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund said that arrests, "simply based on proximity or shared political views at a march" set a troubling precedent for all protests. She explained that "it means at any demonstration," if a participant or a provocateur commits an illegal act, then "the entire demonstration can be subject to indiscriminate force and large groups of people can be suddenly arrested without notice or opportunity to disperse, and face life-altering charges."</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Many states are passing laws that limit the right to protest</p> <p><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41306935">Police in St. Louis, Missouri, chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” as they cleared anti-police brutality activists from the streets</a>. They may be right. Since the 2016 election <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lapd-protest-charges-20171102-story.html">the LAPD have arrested 462 people in anti-Trump protests</a>, criminally charging only three. In St. Louis, at protests against the acquittal of a police officer who shot Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/st-louis-police-arrest-307-protesters-18-days-171005104005733.html">police arrested 307 protesters in 18 days</a>. The police there have also used pepper spray, attempted to prevent filming of police actions and kettled the demonstrators into a small area.” <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/08/donald-trump-anti-protest-bills">Many states are passing laws that limit the right to protest</a>. Resistance is growing to this aggressive policing on the streets and in the courts. <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/st-louis-police-arrest-307-protesters-18-days-171005104005733.html">The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis Missouri Police Department</a> over what it called "unlawful and unconstitutional actions" against demonstrators.</p> <p>This past year the <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/08/29/trump-military-police-equipment-1033-program-obama/">confrontations between racist, anti-immigrant and anti-racist protesters have attracted police attention</a>. Despite their access to tanks and riot teams, police have been unable to stop neo-Nazi protesters firing shots and using cars to kill anti-racist protesters. Indeed, police often arrest the anti-racists. What is to be done? The hunger to keep racist and fascist activists from marching in the streets can push those concerned about rising extremism to rely more on the police, demanding that they ‘do their job properly’ and protect society. Such an approach is shortsighted. The police are not our guardians. They are the guardians of a racist, violent society. Police, especially militarised police, cannot stop the rising tide of racism. The police look like an army because companies like TASER and Lockheed Martin are profiting from, and exacerbating this unstable and exploitative system. To build a more democratic, egalitarian society we need to move towards real security, where we protect demands for equity, and ensure room for dissent, not robocops and racists.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Lesley J. Wood Mon, 27 Nov 2017 11:51:43 +0000 Lesley J. Wood 114923 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Crowd-control weapons: "These weapons should not be interpreted as less than lethal" https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/homer-venters-crowd-control-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EZrpfECcFGs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><span style="font-size: 14px; white-space: pre-wrap; color: #111111; font-family: Roboto, Arial, sans-serif;">An interview with <a href="https://twitter.com/homerventers?lang=en">Homer Venters</a> from <a href="http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/">Physicians for Human Rights</a> (PHR), discussing the health implications of crowd-control weapons, and how states choose to use them. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px; white-space: pre-wrap; color: #111111; font-family: Roboto, Arial, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span><em>This video interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a><span style="font-style: italic;">, a partnership&nbsp;</span><em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></p><h2><span style="font-family: Roboto, Arial, sans-serif; color: #111111;"><span style="font-size: 14px; white-space: pre-wrap;">Interview transcript</span></span></h2><p>"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.&nbsp;</p><p>"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.&nbsp;</p><p>"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.&nbsp;</p><p>"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."</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag ANNA NORMAN and HOMER VENTERS Tue, 21 Nov 2017 17:12:24 +0000 ANNA NORMAN and HOMER VENTERS 114813 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tear gas and protest: 'there’s a vested interest in escalating force' https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/anna-feigenbaum/tear-gas <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How did tear gas became the go-to weapon in riot control, what are its real health implications, and why should we trace the money when it comes to understanding the increase in crowd-control weapons around the world?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/A women&#039;s protest about braid chopping in Kashmir, India, is dispersed by police using tear gas. October 2017. Image Faisal Khan:Zuma Press:PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/A women&#039;s protest about braid chopping in Kashmir, India, is dispersed by police using tear gas. October 2017. Image Faisal Khan:Zuma Press:PA Images.jpg" alt="People in Kashmir, India, running through the streets in a cloud of tear gas" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A women's protest against 'braid-chopping' bandits in Kashmir, India, is dispersed by police using tear gas, October 2017. Image: Faisal Khan/Zuma Press/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>project with human rights organisations <a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/">CELS</a> and <a href="http://www.inclo.net/">INCLO</a>, with support from the <a href="https://www.aclu.org/">ACLU</a>, examining the power of protest and its fundamental role in democratic society</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>INTERVIEW: ANNA NORMAN</p><p>Anna Feigenbaum's new book <span><a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2109-tear-gas">Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today&nbsp;</a></span>is published today, by Verso. Principal Academic in Digital Storytelling at Bournemouth University, Anna Feigenbaum is also behind&nbsp;<a href="http://riotid.com/">RiotID</a>, a civic media project with <a href="https://omegaresearchfoundation.org/">Omega Research Foundation </a>and <a href="http://www.minuteworks.co.uk/">Minute Works</a> that aims to empower protesters by helping them identify different kinds of riot control weapon, while also improving medical care and corporate accountability.&nbsp;</p><h2><span>Anna Norman (AN): Can you give me a short overview of the history of tear gas as riot control</span></h2> <p>Anna Feigenbaum (AF): While tear gas has been around since just after the First World War, it was really during the Civil Rights Movement, and the global unrest of the 1960s, where we saw it become the kind of go-to weapon of choice for riot control, and where we really saw riot control come together as a field under that name. This process is often historicised as the global rise of passive resistance – so, in combination with the rise of Gandhi/independence movement-style tactics. But actually, if we look at the situation more carefully, we see it’s more about what we would now call the rise of the <em>diversity of tactics</em>. So, you had lots of people who were peacefully protesting at this time, but you also had Antifa- and Black bloc-type actions coming into play. And I think it’s actually that mix, as well as more traditional-looking riots in the US at that time, with the race riots, that led to the formation of riot control. And in the European context – France, in particular – you have the rise of a much more militant, union-organising activism at this time, which the police weren’t really prepared for. </p><p>So, you started to have these kind of spectacle situations in which it looked like the police couldn’t control or handle the protests, and they started coming under a lot of pressure by the government for not being able to properly control the situations. My colleague Justin Murphy has actually done <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2017-09-13/quiet-riots">a quantitative&nbsp;look at the rise and fall of militant action</a>, and you see this real peak of what we would define as miltiant activism in the late 60s and 70s, but it's <em>after</em> that that we see a dip, not before.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The police all of a sudden really needed to win this PR battle over the street</p> <p>I think the bigger issue is that you started to have a lot more television crews at protests, and so these scenes were being recorded and fed into people’s homes and the police all of a sudden really needed to win this PR battle over the street. And so the combination of a diverse set of tactics the police don’t know how to control, and also lots of cameras in their faces, lead to this kind of crisis of street policing. </p> <p>So you see this big rise at the end of the 1960s and early 70s in the formalisation of what we now call riot-control tactics – which are in part drawn from military tactics and trainers, and in part from colonial policing, which is always a mix of militarisation, occupation and more traditional law enforcement. So, you have this crystalisation that happens at this time, and a lot of money is put into the development of additional less-lethal weapons. </p> <p>Then, in the 1990s, in part because of NATO funding and the shift to more humanitarian modes of intervention across the military and law enforcement worlds, which are a shared economy, you then see a big search in global players in this marketplace. So, lots of countries that weren’t in the business come into the business, and you start to see tear gas being used as a policing strategy in countries that are sort of modelling their police restructuring after the West. So, the East African countries, South-east Asia… Brazil becomes a really big player and you start to see companies beyond those in the US and Europe developing their own tear gas. </p><p>Right now, Condor Non-lethal Technologies, in Brazil, is one of the biggest manufacturers. And then there’s Rheinmetall Denel Munition, which is a South African and German joint venture. And then you’ve got Korean and Chinese companies that are coming onto the scene, often selling to East Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. And now you have these transnational networks between these companies so that they can cover as much of the world as possible, the same situation as with any kind of international business.&nbsp;They’re finding countries that weren’t using these weapons before.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/RiotID_Guide_Twitter8.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/RiotID_Guide_Twitter8.png" alt="" title="" width="620" height="349" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: RiotID’ — Minute Works, Dr. Anna Feigenbaum and Omega Research Foundation.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>AN: Why is your book particularly focused on tear gas over other crowd-control weapons?</strong></h2> <p>AF: The idea of riot control is really more about regaining control of space than it is about gaining control of individual bodies. And tear gas is the most emblematic of that – it’s about ‘atmosphere governance’. After tear gas, other weapons get developed under the same logic. So, sound weapons: ‘How else can we pollute the area? Let’s make intolerable sound.’ With skunk it’s ‘Let's make intolerable smell’. So this idea that we can actually fill the atmosphere with something that makes it impossible for people to maintain their solidarity, to maintain their collective mass, that forces people to break apart. Some of the archival quotes are very telling in terms of the initial reasons for the development of tear gas. The idea is to make the mob look silly. It’s this big PR move, too; you create the riot by using riot control.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>AN: What are you main concerns when it comes to the use of tear gas as a crowd-control weapon?</strong></h2> <p>AF: My concerns are basically three-fold:</p> <p>First is the medical concern. Like other products that have been pushed by military, government and corporate interests – compare the situation, for example, to the history of cigarettes – there is a really biased science behind it. When tear gas was evaluated in the 1970s, it was following this idea that it should be thought of as a drug and not as a weapon. So they were measuring the human threshold, the dose that you could give someone without killing them. That kind of logic, to be applied to a weapon, to a toxic chemical, is very troubling from a medical perspective. They excluded from this compilation of studies all kinds of incidences where people had died [in real life situations], because they were only using clinical trials to make that assessment, and mostly clinical trials on animals. They weren't taking any epidemiological or sociological factors into consideration, so anytime that somebody had a negative response or got injured they blamed the person for other aspects of their lives e.g. that person was a smoker, that’s why they reacted so badly to tear gas. So you have this really dodgy science, and also few long-term studies –&nbsp;for instance, [no studies] in places like Palestine, where people have been tear-gassed sometimes every week, or at least every few months, for 20 or 30&nbsp;years of their lives.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">All of the human rights groups in countries that are regularly tear-gassed have said that tear gas causes miscarriages</p> <p>There is also very little study into other things that are major concerns, like miscarriage. The most recent study on this was done in Chile after the 2011 protests there, and the government actually paused use for a while because the study suggested that there was this link between miscarriage and tear gas. And anecdotally all of the human rights groups in countries that are regularly tear-gassed have said that tear gas causes miscarriages. But the clinical trials don’t show that. </p><p>The European Respiratory Society has also looked at studies that show that there are long-term respiratory concerns. All these major&nbsp;medical associations around the world have all come out with statements that say we do not know enough about the effects of this. </p> <p>It’s also often the manufacturers that fund the trials that do take place. If we’re going to test tear gas as a drug and not a weapon then it needs to come under the same standards as pharmaceutical testing, which means declaring conflicts of interest, and legal repercussions if you fail to do so.</p> <h2><strong>AN: So the studies refer to tear gas as a drug, but it is still bought and sold under the ‘less-lethal weapon’ label. How does this work?</strong></h2> <p>AF: They play both games; they win that way. The idea that tear gas can be safe is premised on it not being a weapon – at least, not in a traditional way. Less-lethals can only make sense as something somehow benevolent if we believe in the fundamental logic, which is the same logic as torture. We don’t think of torture as being benevolent, but we’re using the same logic: how much pain can we cause somebody without causing whatever point of harm is no longer seen as humanitarian? So, how toxic can this be without making somebody choke to death? How loud can it be without making someone go deaf or bleed from the ears? When you actually look at the studies, especially the ones done on animals where there’s no benevolent language, you just get a list of which animal died, which animal didn’t die but suffered the most, and you’re just reading this and the basis of it. Tear gas is a weapon – it’s sold and traded by the arms industry – but they’re very careful to adopt this kind of technical language that pulls us out of thinking of it as chemical weaponry.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/HV_Gigi Ibrahim_USA made tear gas 2011_Flickr_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/HV_Gigi Ibrahim_USA made tear gas 2011_Flickr_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="465" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Gigi Ibrahim/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The second concern is the corporate perspective linked to this – the fact that we have all these people who are making money. We have this corporate interest, where the corporations are setting the training guidelines, doing the training, profiting off of the weapons they sell. It’s often a package deal: ‘we will give you this big lot of police weapons and the training to go with it’. So you’ve go this huge business where there’s a vested interest in using more and more of these weapons and in escalating force, because the more force escalation we have, the more of these weapons are needed. Police reform is so focused on the relationship between the protester and the police, but we forget that there is this whole for-profit market that is driving that relationship between the protester and the police. And so part of the project for me in the <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2109-tear-gas">book</a> is to make visible the corporate interest in the escalation of force.&nbsp;What we need in terms of activism is to bring the question of profit and the question of who benefits from the escalation of force into our discussion about police reformation. We need to trace the money.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">We have this completely unregulated marketplace and unclear international conventions</p><p>And then the third track is that you have no market regulation. There’s nothing on a national or international level that makes people have to record the use of these weapons, how many people get hurt, how many people die, etc. And there’s no real open regulation of trade. If a government is trading to another government, that has to be openly documented; but you can have a company trading to a government that has a prearranged agreement where it doesn’t need to be in the public eye. You can also have a company trading with another company, and countries or companies or police departments selling stuff to each other. The NGO that I work with, Omega Research Foundation, just found some documentation about Israel reselling some of its old products. So we have this completely unregulated marketplace and unclear international conventions. The only real international guidelines we have are UN guidelines, principles for the use of force – but they’re not backed by anything. It’s a legal mess.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Aug 22, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix police use tear gas on protestors after a rally by President Donald Trump. Mandatory Credit Nick Oza:The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Aug 22, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix police use tear gas on protestors after a rally by President Donald Trump. Mandatory Credit Nick Oza:The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Police in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, use tear gas on protestors after a rally by President Donald Trump in August 2017. Image: Nick Oza/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK/SIPA USA/PA Images.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>AN: Where would we need to start in terms of creating international regulations for crowd-control weapons?</strong></h2> <p>AF: At the moment, we don’t even have enough empirical data to make evaluations. So first we need public disclosure of all trade. We also need a duty for law-enforcement agencies to record all uses of force on civilians. Until we have those two pieces of information, we have no grounds to begin to ask questions such as ‘How much is too much?’ </p> <p>The other thing that needs to be recorded, which is often not recorded, is <em>why</em> these weapons are being used? My research team in 2013 and 2015 used media reports to <a href="http://www.civicmedia.io/projects/tear-gas-maps-2015/">map use of tear gas around the world</a>. In 2013, we were just recording the instances along with little summaries of what happened, but then one of the things we realised was that a lot of times tear gas was being used in situations such as ‘people want water’, ‘people want fuel’, ‘there's an election happening’. So, protests for fundamental human rights, basic tenets of democracy that the police are tear-gassing people for, not riots. The number of instances that actually look like a riot or that have any evidence of civilian violence make up an incredibly small proportion of the times that less-lethals have been used. So, in 2015 we decided to record [a more detailed] reason for why tear gas is being used and it was quite telling&nbsp;in terms of how many of those times law enforcement was turning to weapons when people were making claims for basic human rights, basic tenets of democracy to be met.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">We need more training in conflict negotiation, a greater understanding of mental health conditions, and actual humanitarian responses to many of the issues people protest about</p> <p>Another thing that’s very troubling is the increasing use of less-lethals, and tear gas in particular, as border control, particularly in ad hoc border zones where there are not formal walls or fences and security guards. So we’re seeing this in the migrations through Europe, such as in the camps in Calais, where less-lethals are being used as ad hoc security infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>AN: How can police training be improved when it comes to use of crowd-control weapons?</strong></h2> <p>AF: The question should be what can be fixed without use of less-lethals. I'm quite partial to the argument put out by Alex Vitale in <em><a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2426-the-end-of-policing"><em>The End of Policing</em></a></em> that the problem with policing is policing itself, that the reformist gestures can’t get at the underlying problems. But in the interim of that, I think that the companies providing the weapons should of course not be doing the trainings, and that there needs to be independent and humanitarian bodies that are involved in the training process. We need more training in conflict negotiation, a greater understanding of mental health conditions, and actual humanitarian responses to many of the issues people protest about, particularly when it comes to things like water shortages, flooding, borders, that have clear and well-established protocols for how to respond in an actual humanitarian way. Because we’re not often talking about responding to a protest that is aimed at taking down the government or something where the state actually needs to protect itself – the number of times that that happens is actually very, very small.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag OPEN DEMOCRACY INTERVIEW WITH Anna Feigenbaum Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:46:47 +0000 OPEN DEMOCRACY INTERVIEW WITH Anna Feigenbaum 114490 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Occupy and resist! School occupations in Brazil https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/brazil-school-occupations <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A show of student dissent in 2015 and 2016 highlighted the return of mass mobilisation in Brazil, and paved a path for new forms of youth political engagement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/School occupation in Méier_ Rio de Janeiro_ 27 May 2016. Sofia Leão_ All rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/School occupation in Méier_ Rio de Janeiro_ 27 May 2016. Sofia Leão_ All rights reserved.jpg" alt="School students sleeping on the floor of their school in Meier, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>School occupation in Méier, Rio de Janeiro, May 2016. Image: Sofia Leão. All rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>IMAGES: Sofia Leão</p><p>On 20<span style="font-size: 10.8333px;"> </span>June 2013, a Thursday, an estimated 1.25 million people participated in protests throughout Brazil, in a show of mass popular unrest rarely seen before. Though the initial impetus for the demonstrations had been the <em>Movimento Passe Livre</em> (Free Fare Movement) – an 0.20 cent increase in public transport fares – the agenda widened as the month went on, taking in other, sometimes contradictory grievances, including police violence, the rising cost of living and the impact of the World Cup and Olympic Games. This show of popular dissent over several days came to be known as the ‘<em>Jornadas de Junho</em>’ (literally, ‘June Days’).</p> <p>Further mass protests followed in Brazil in 2015, driven by indignation at corruption scandals involving President Dilma Rousseff and the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) (‘Workers' Party’) that she headed. This led to the April 2016 vote to impeach the first woman to occupy the highest executive position in the country. Members of Congress referred to torturers under the dictatorship, praised the military coup of 1964, and mentioned family and God as a justification for their vote, thus making it obvious that the main accusation, the so-called ‘fiscal pedaling’, was not actually the real reason for Rousseff’s dismissal. Michel Temer assumed the presidency in what was, for many, a ‘coup d’état’. In light of these developments, there are some who think that after June 2013 Brazil took a turn to the right with the emergence of conservative and extremist discourses. </p> <p>This political setting helps to build a set of objective and subjective elements for the history of recent student protests in Brazil. In 2015 and 2016, three waves of students’ occupations in public schools took place throughout the country – even though many of them sought to distance themselves from party rhetoric and political polarisation. Through micropolitics – seen in the way dialogue was conducted, forms of organisation and changes of political behavior of the high school students of São Paulo – these school occupations imprinted a collective-based consciousness on a whole generation of Brazilian students, putting in motion political dynamics that bring up aspects from the experiences of the anti-globalisation movements in the late 1990s.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>The first buds of spring: educational reform and secondary resistance</strong></h2> <p>The so-called <em>Primavera Secundarista</em>, or ‘Student Spring’, started on 23 September 2015, with the disclosure by the governor of the state of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, of his ‘school restructuring’ plan, involving the closure of almost 100 public schools and the transfer to other schools of around one thousand students. The plan sought to break up ‘educational cycles’: schools would have to exclusively accept either Fundamental I cycle pupils (6–10-year-olds), Fundamental II pupils (11–14-year-olds), or Middle cycle pupils (15–17-year-olds).</p><p class="mag-quote-center">They were inspired by&nbsp;La Revolución de los Pingüinos in Chile in 2006 and 2011</p> <p>Brazil’s Secretary of Education claimed that there had been a decrease in the number of pupils in the public school system in recent years, and that, therefore, schools needed to close and merge. The weakness of this argument and the fact that teachers and students were excluded from the discussion on reform generated much discontent.</p> <h2><strong>From Chile to São Paulo: the spread of school occupations as protest</strong></h2> <p>Students organised around 200 demonstrations throughout the state and demanded that the bill be cancelled. In one of these protests, an idea was formed, as one student recalled: ‘One student said that for each school that was closed, we would occupy two.’</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Students barricaded the entrance to Colegio Estadual Central do Brazil in Méir_ Rio de Janeiro_ May 2016. Sofia Leão_ All rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Students barricaded the entrance to Colegio Estadual Central do Brazil in Méir_ Rio de Janeiro_ May 2016. Sofia Leão_ All rights reserved.jpg" alt="Desks and chairs piled up in front of the inside of the school gates, as a barricade" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Students barricaded the entrance to Colegio Estadual Central do Brazil in Méir, Rio de Janeiro, May 2016. Image: Sofia Leão. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>A student from the first occupied school in Diadema, in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, stated that they were inspired by <em>La Revolución de los Pingüinos</em> (‘The Penguins’ Revolution’) in Chile in 2006 and 2011, where hundreds of schools were occupied in a student revolt against the privatisation of education: ‘A student found a news story about the Penguins’ Revolution in Chile,’ he said. ‘Nobody knew what an occupation was. So we learned what occupying meant and we decided to go ahead and do it.’&nbsp;</p> <p>Tired of the authorities' obstinacy and the ineffectiveness of street actions, high-school students took over 200 public schools across the state of São Paulo, forming the first wave of school occupations in the country.</p> <p>After that, the students came up with more alternative and creative ‘direct action’ initiatives to put additional pressure on the government. By making a gesture of appropriation (‘<em>A escola é nossa!</em>’ – ‘The school is ours!’), students challenged disciplinary education, arbitrary hierarchy and the deterioration of teaching conditions.</p> <p>A month or so later, in December 2015, the proposed restructuring of schools in the state of São Paulo was suspended. News of the victory of the São Paulo students spread across Brazil, inspiring a country-wide high school student movement.&nbsp;</p><p> <iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mnSFBGVbPD4" frameborder="0"></iframe> <em>A short version of the documentary film Lute como uma Menina (Fight like a Girl), directed by Flávio Colombini and Beatriz Alonso</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>From São Paulo to the rest of Brazil: the second wave of occupations </strong></h2> <p>In 2016, the seeds of the previous <em>Primavera</em> blossomed again; students began to coordinate actions in different states, and the occupations model rapidly spread around the country.</p> <p>In the state of Goiás, in early 2016, only a few days after the success of their São Paulo peers, high school students organised some 30 occupations to demonstrate against the threat of privatisation of public education, proposed by the state through a model of shared administration between state and private non-profit entities.</p> <p>Between March and April, students from the state of Rio de Janeiro took to the streets to protest against spending cuts and in support of a teachers’ strike. A month later, 70 public schools in the state had been occupied. In the same period, students from the northeastern state of Ceará staged protests against the degradation of public education. In addition to demonstrations, they occupied 12 schools.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, a scandal concerning the misappropriation of resources earmarked for school lunches in municipal and state schools triggered new occupations in the state of São Paulo in April and May in places such as the Paula Souza Center and Sao Paulo’s Legislative Assembly.</p> <p>In May and June, students from Mato Grosso joined the revolt, protesting against the privatisation of 76 schools in the state through public-private agreements, by occupying around 25 public schools. And high school students in Rio Grande do Sul also saw occupation as a powerful resistance tool, mobilising against the lack of investment in the public system, and threats of privatisation, by occupying approximately 120 schools across the state.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Students preparing dinner during an occupation of Colégio Estadual Visconde de Cairu in Méier_ Rio de Janeiro in May 2016.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Students preparing dinner during an occupation of Colégio Estadual Visconde de Cairu in Méier_ Rio de Janeiro in May 2016.jpg" alt="Students cooking with pans in the school kitchen" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Students preparing dinner during an occupation of Colégio Estadual Visconde de Cairu in Méier, Rio de Janeiro, May 2016. Image: Sofia Leão. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>After the two first waves of occupation, some of the local governments responded to the students’ demands. At Goiás, for example, a sentence at the state’s judiciary suspended the call for private organisations to take charge of the administration of public schools, which is considered a punctual victory against the privatization of public education even though this threat is still present in the country as a whole. In Sao Paulo, four days after the occupation of the state’s Legislative Assembly, in May 2016, a Parliamentary Commission was created to investigate the corruption scandal of the provision of school lunches.</p> <p>On the other hand, more than one year after the complaints were made to the Parliamentary Commission, nobody was punished in São Paulo. In states such as Rio de Janeiro and Ceará, the already poor conditions of the public education system only got worse.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>The third wave: national reforms, rapid spread of occupations and repression</strong></h2> <p>Brazil experienced a third wave of occupations – the largest ever recorded in the country’s history – in the second half of 2016. Between October and December, 21 (out of 27) states of the federation saw the occupation of public education institutions. In this third wave, however, the triggers were national, not local.</p> <p>In September 2016, the Ministry of Education published a bill for the reform of public high school education – the ‘Middle Cycle Education Reform’ – proposing changes to the structure of the curriculum. This proposal – which the government again drew up without effective prior consultations with teachers or students – caused a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity. The students quickly mobilised again, organising the first school occupation of Curitiba, the capital city of the state of Paraná.</p> <p>The movement from Paraná grew rapidly, with <a href="http://ocupaparana.org/">850 schools</a> soon being occupied. After this, a third wave of occupations spread around the country, involving almost 1,200 schools. As the protests spread, support for the agenda grew, centering around three main points: (1) resistance to the proposed ‘Middle Cycle Education Reform’; (2) rejection of the constitutional amendment proposal (PEC) 55/2016, limiting public spending for the next 20 years mainly in the sectors of health and education; 3) rejection of the proposed ‘School Without Parties’ law, also known as the ‘<em>ley de la mordaz</em>a’, or ‘gag law’, which sought to control and persecute teachers expressing ideas considered as “leftist” or “Marxist”, the so-called ‘ideological indoctrination’ in classrooms.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The resolute students&nbsp;transformed schools into political laboratories in a way never seen before&nbsp;</p><p>At the same time, each school added local needs to this agenda – such as lack of teachers, precarious facilities, violence in educational institutions, debates on sexual diversity and women’s empowerment and self-defense.</p> <p>A few days after the third wave had gained its full strength, college students occupied state and federal universities throughout the country in solidarity with and support of the school occupations. According to information disclosed by the União Nacional dos Estudantes (National Union of Students) (UNE), 229 institutions of higher education were occupied in approximately 40 days. This served to counterbalance pressure from local communities, the government and the media for the school occupations to end.</p> <p>In the second half of October 2016, the protests began to lose strength due, on the one hand, to the refusal on the part of the federal government to review the reforms, and, on the other, to the actions by the state to evict school occupiers. Intense police violence and repression against the students marked the end of the third, nationwide wave of occupations. Coercion came also from counter-protest movements that were in favour of the educational reforms and budget cuts, such as the Free Brazil Movement (MBL) and other conservative groups.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/A student cleaning the women&#039;s bathroom on the last day of the occupation of Colégio Estadual Visconde de Cairu, Méier, Rio de Janeiro. Sofia Leão, All rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/A student cleaning the women&#039;s bathroom on the last day of the occupation of Colégio Estadual Visconde de Cairu, Méier, Rio de Janeiro. Sofia Leão, All rights reserved.jpg" alt="A female student mopping the floor of the school bathroom" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A student cleaning the women's bathroom on the last day of the occupation of Colégio Estadual Visconde de Cairu, Méier, Rio de Janeiro. Image: Sofia Leão, All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>A positive legacy of the school occupations</strong></h2> <p>As we have seen, the first and second wave of occupations implied some positive gains at the local level such as blocking reforms, obtaining some response to cases of corruption and suspending privatization projects. </p> <p>At the national level, however, two out of three bills that were contested during the second half of 2016 were approved. The ‘Middle Cycle Education Reform’ and the constitutional reform limiting public spending in education have been in force since the beginning of 2017. Despite strong opposition and the fact that it has been declared as unconstitutional by the federal Public Prosecutors’ Office, the third bill, ‘School Without Parties’, is still being studied at the National Congress but also at several states and cities, through local bills inspired by the national one, making it a constant preoccupation for students and educators.&nbsp;</p> <p>In spite of these negative results and the repressive and criminalising state reaction, the Primavera Secundarista movement is to be celebrated: the resolute students, or ‘<em>firmes</em>’ (a label coined during the Paraná occupations), transformed schools into political laboratories in a way never seen before in the history of Brazil. The students acquired knowledge on confrontation formats and built skills of resistance. The occupations heightened the need for them to organise and mobilise in a collective but autonomous way. It also allowed the students to communicate with society and the state, and to exercise their rights to quality public education without their agenda being subsumed by other social and political groups.</p> <p>By exercising their political rights, the students gained confidence. Young Brazilians came out of the occupations more politically conscious and ready to fight for a more questioning and inclusive society and to defend their rights in the face of oppression by the state, society and the media.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Paula Alegria and Marcielly Moresco Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:02:15 +0000 Paula Alegria and Marcielly Moresco 114002 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why is protest fundamental for democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/right-to-protest-video <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We posed this question to delegates attending an international conference on protest in Buenos Aires in May 2017, organised by CELS (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales).</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/noUY42r3Vnw?rel=0&amp;start=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <h2></h2><h2>Interviewees include:</h2><p><strong>Homer Venters</strong>, PHR (Physicians for Human Rights), USA</p><p><strong>Inti Rodriguez</strong>, PROVEA (Programa Venezolano de Educación–Acción en Derechos Humanos), Venezuela</p><p><strong>María Esperanza Casullo</strong>, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina</p><p><strong>Oscar Ayala Amarilla</strong>, CODEHUPY (Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay),&nbsp;Paraguay</p><p><strong>Marta Dillon</strong>, Ni Una Menos, Argentina</p><p><strong>Michael Power</strong>, LRC (Legal Resources Centre), South Africa</p><p><strong>Sofía de Robina Castro</strong>, Centro Prodh, Mexico</p><p><strong>Camila Marquez</strong>, Article 19, Brazil</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Tue, 10 Oct 2017 15:38:49 +0000 openDemocracy 113925 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Resistance and revolt for lives that matter: understanding the black experience https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/brazil-tulio-custodio <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The transformative concepts of "revolt" and "resistance" are at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement, which is now a global force.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Em-Sao-Paulo-ato-pede-o-fim-do-exterminio-do-povo-negro-foto-Oswaldo-Corneti-Fotos-Publicas201408220015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Em-Sao-Paulo-ato-pede-o-fim-do-exterminio-do-povo-negro-foto-Oswaldo-Corneti-Fotos-Publicas201408220015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>""Bullets from the military police ('PM') only kill black people". Protest in São Paulo, 2014. Image: Oswaldo Cornetti/fotos públicas. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><em><em>Brazilian black movements have been organising and protesting against racial violence and injustice for decades. When the Black Lives Matter movement became a global force, activists in Brazil adopted the rallying cry to bolster their own historical fight. In July 2016, the month before the Olympic Games, US delegates from Black Lives Matter travelled to Rio de Janeiro for what became known as 'Julho Negro', or 'Black July' – a conversation between leaders of the movement and local groups working to highlight issues such as escalating police killings and militarisation in Brazil (particularly in the favelas), the continuing incarceration of black youth, and the racist structure of the state, based on centuries of exploitation. Brazil's&nbsp;black movements continued to grow in 2017, with numerous protests&nbsp;in São Paulo, Rio and elsewhere. Here, Brazilian sociologist Tulio Custódio describes the black experience in relation to revolt and resistance. </em></em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></p><p>Abdias do Nascimento (1934-2011) was one of the leading black intellectuals in Brazil. He was active in theatre, art and politics. His life was marked by activism and he managed to reconcile creative activity and political thinking.</p> <p>In 2006, sociologist Antônio Sérgio Guimarães published an article clarifying the notions of revolt and resistance present in his own thinking as an academic. The article showed how revolt and resistance have been fundamental to breaking free from the logic of racial democracy and allowing the development of a questioning perspective in black culture.</p> <p>In what sense are these two notions relevant today as we witness the emergence of movements like Black Lives Matter? What are the effects of racism on the experience of the black diaspora?</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It is necessary to go deeper to find the despair, the burden that's carried, the collapse and the loss of meaning of black life experience</p> <p>We can look at it from two dimensions: material and subjective. From the material, objective perspective, the situation of black people is marked by racism as the basis of political and economic power: the exploitation of black labour, the objectification of black bodies, the trauma and the death of black people. This material situation is what can be seen with the naked eye, in the black bodies lying on the ground, begging, in our big cities, abused by the repressive power of the state and imprisoned in unequal proportions: leading the statistics of violence, vulnerability and mortality.</p> <p>On the other hand, when seen from the subjective perspective the effects of racism are less obvious, but are nevertheless extremely important. As philosopher Cornel West points out, it is necessary to go deeper to find the despair, the burden that's carried, the collapse and the loss of meaning of black life experience. He calls this experience – which includes psychological depression, lack of self-value and social despair found in all black communities – “black nihilism”. Nihilism has to do with the experience of leading a life with no meaning, no hope and no love. It is an experience of living in humiliation and moral devaluation.</p> <p>Integration into the capitalist system did not heal the scars and wounds caused by racism. Market ethics replaced the associative (and protective) traditions of black communities. The beliefs and images of white supremacy assail the intelligence, the skills, the beauty and character of black people daily, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Without hope there is no future, without meaning there is no struggle. Existential anxiety heightened by nihilism is the historical experience of blacks before white supremacy.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">We know that the cumulative effect of wounds and scars is anger and rage. And it is that anger that is captured as a transformative energy for action</p> <p>In so far as it denies hope, black nihilism transforms anxiety into rage, into black-against-black violence, the main victims of which are black women and children. These are the adverse consequences of this process.</p><p>That lived experience is externally stamped on blacks as being NOBODIES, as Marc Lamont Hill explains in his book <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/books/review/nobody-marc-lamont-hill.html"><em>Nobody: </em><em>Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond</em></a>. Being a NOBODY is being vulnerable. It is to be subject to ordinary violence by the state, to daily terrorism and to the injustices of daily life. It is being abandoned by the state and being considered disposable. We know that the cumulative effect of wounds and scars is anger and rage. And it is that anger that is captured as a transformative energy for action.</p> <p>That diagnosis can be called, states Cornel West, <em>Niggerisation </em>– a process that transforms black individuals into <em>Nobodies</em>. Niggerisation is a process that can even be "transferred" to other social groups, for it means "being insecure, unprotected, subject to random violence and hatred" – which are all direct consequences of a continuing process of nihilism and structural racism, which leads to the hopeless acceptance of domination.</p> <p>Thus we come to the relevant concepts of revolt and resistance. Against nihilism and niggerisation there exists a power that turns into revolt. Subjectivities and historical collective memory try to fight back against the process of niggerisation. We know that the cumulative effect of wounds and scars is anger and rage. And it is that rage that is captured as a transformative energy for action.</p> <p>In the tradition of black thought, there is a special place for this rage, as Audre Lorde points out: "My response to racism is rage: rage over exclusion, rage over unquestioned privileges, over racial distortions, over stereotypes, betrayals and cooptation". Lorde, like other black thinkers and leaders, presents us with the challenge of turning rage into transformative energy – so that rage becomes revolt and rises as a form of resistance against oppression and nihilism. Rage becomes power for change, it becomes revolt as a form of transformation and resistance.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The value that a black person invokes when revolting is his value as an individual, his value as black, his value as a citizen</p><p>Abdias do Nascimento incorporates the notion of revolt from the works of Albert Camus: "What is a revolted man? It is a man who says no. But while denying, he however is not renouncing: he is also a man who says yes from his very first move". That move is the organisation of revolt, which allows for protest.</p><p>Let us now go back to the notions of revolt and resistance. The richness of the concept of revolt (or "revolted being") is that, almost as a traumatic shock, it describes a movement that contains the possibility of insurgency for existence, for action. If conscience is born out of revolt, it is from that movement that black revolt arises.</p> <p>By turning rage into energy, the revolt is transformed into the essence of freedom. For black revolt is about liberation. As Abdias says, "the revolt is the result of a lucid, well-informed conscience that does not compromise or make any concession with its identity and its rights". The value that a black person invokes when revolting is his value as an individual, his value as black, his value as a citizen.</p> <p>The Black Lives Matter insurgency against state violence is an ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives are systematically and intentionally considered an object of failure. It is a statement of the black people’s contributions to this society, of our humanity and our resilience to deadly oppression.&nbsp;It is not a "moment", it is a "movement".</p><p>All this can be seen today as we witness the surge of the Black Lives Matter movement.</p> <p>The concepts of revolt and resistance as ways of turning rage into transformative energy and resistance against the genocide of black people are at the core of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is a form of insurgency that is a form of resistance - for life, for a life that matters, for lives that matter.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Tulio Custódio Fri, 06 Oct 2017 15:43:01 +0000 Tulio Custódio 113864 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brazil’s National Indigenous Movement: resolute in times of crisis https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/brazil-national-indigenous-movement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Brazil's indigenous people face mounting threats under President Temer, yet recent collective, high-profile efforts have seen some success in the fight for their lands.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/MNI resized (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/MNI resized (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brazilian indigenous leader S&ocirc;nia Guajajara at a recent Terra Livre gathering. Image: <a href="http://amazonwatch.org/">Amazon Watch</a>. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>When Brazilian indigenous leader Sônia Guajajara gave a fiery speech on environmentalism and human rights at the Rock in Rio music festival in September 2017, alongside Alicia Keys, she captured the power and authority of Brazil’s National Indigenous Movement (<a class="yt-formatted-string style-scope yt-simple-endpoint" href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIDiCgobjud78vGgHsMWmjQ">Mobilização Nacional Indígena</a>, MNI). “This is the mother of all struggles, the struggle for Mother Earth!” exclaimed Sônia to a massive, cheering audience. A lifelong advocate for the rights of the country’s native peoples and the integrity of the ecosystems upon which they depend, Sônia helps to lead one of South America’s most vibrant social movements, rooted firmly in resistance to an unjust government set on slashing fundamental socio-environmental protections.&nbsp;</p> <p>As Brazil lurches through a prolonged period of economic and political crisis, its indigenous peoples and irreplaceable ecosystems are paying a particularly heavy price. Under President Michel Temer, Brazil’s environmental safeguards and human rights standards have fallen under an attack that is unprecedented since the fall of the country’s military dictatorship in 1985. Largely dictated by powerful industry groups, his government’s policies have taken aim at the hard-fought land rights of indigenous peoples, as well as protections to the Amazon’s vast forests. Under the rubric of stimulating economic growth, Mr. Temer personally endorsed the freezing of indigenous land titling processes across the country, gutted the budget of the indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, and is poised to approve legislation that would allow extractive industry on native lands.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">It aimed to halt 748 pending cases to title tribal lands while stripping indigenous peoples of their constitutional rights</p><p>In July, President Temer’s Attorney General tried to impose a highly flawed legal interpretation of indigenous land rights known as <em>marco temporal </em>or “time limit.” The interpretation only recognised the land claims of indigenous peoples that have continuously occupied their territories since Brazil's 1988 Constitution was enshrined, ignoring common situations in which communities were brutally driven off their lands.&nbsp;It also aimed to halt 748 pending cases to title tribal lands while stripping indigenous peoples of their constitutional rights to permanent and exclusive use of their territories, claiming these rights cannot overrule "national interests" such as military operations, road construction, communications infrastructure and hydroelectric dams. In August, Temer signed a decree (known as the “Renca” decree) that opened an area of 46,000 km2 of preserved Amazonian forests – approximately the size of Denmark – to industrial mining operations.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <h2>New media strategy, new alliances</h2><p>Indigenous land rights stand at the crux of both fundamental human rights and environmental protections, as Brazil’s native peoples occupy titled ancestral territories spanning 14 per cent of the country’s extension, of which 98 per cent fall within the Amazon rainforest. Boasting highly conserved ecosystems, indigenous territories act as a buffer against rampant Amazon deforestation and a barrier against industrial development. It is precisely for this reason that these territories are under increasing attack, led by actors that hail from Brazil’s agribusiness and mining sector. The Brazilian government’s current assault on indigenous rights and forest protections is fueled by the promise of short-term growth, while exacting a devastating toll on human rights and environmental integrity in the world’s largest rainforest.&nbsp;</p> <p>In response to mounting existential threats, the MNI has built a network of supporters, from Brazilian political leaders to cultural icons. The Movement is backed by national and international NGOs and social movements that have helped to amplify the reach and influence of its message. Leaders like Sônia Guajajara have been consistently bringing the MNI’s message to global forums such as the United Nations, where they have gained considerable traction.&nbsp;</p> <p>Brazil’s indigenous peoples are highly familiar with the precedents to today’s assault and are prepared to fiercely oppose it. Indeed, the National Indigenous Movement’s methodical and determined resistance has inspired a spectrum of Brazilian civil society to join forces under the rallying cry “<em>Demarcação Já!”</em> (Land Demarcation Now!). Their annual <em>Acampamento Terra Livre</em> (Free Land Encampment) in Brasilia convenes allies from across Brazil and the globe to support the indigenous struggle for social and environmental justice, which is widely seen as a collective effort to defend imperiled human rights norms and guarantee ecological stability. Reflecting the urgency of today’s crisis, the 2017 ATL gathering was the largest in its history, bringing more than 1,600 people to the capital for four days of debates, cultural activities and protest.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">This year’s ATL also sought to forge new alliances with indigenous peoples from around the world</p><p>Savvy communicators, the MNI built an impressive assortment of memes and multimedia in the lead up to ATL. They broadcast livestreams of the encampment’s activities that reached millions on social media and launched a high-profile music video entitled “Land Demarcation Now!” featuring Brazil’s cultural luminaries such as Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethania. ATL’s media strategy elevated Brazil’s indigenous struggle to a global audience and built sympathy with the Movement’s cause. This year’s ATL also sought to forge new alliances with indigenous peoples from around the world, assembling leaders from Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia and Indonesia. It also worked to strengthen the representation and protagonism of indigenous women and youth, and strengthened ties with leaders from communities of descendants of escaped slaves (<em>quilombolas</em>), whose struggle for land, dignity, and auto-determination mirrors that of Brazil’s native peoples.</p> <p>Yet when members of the ATL marched on congressional buildings to send a message that further rights rollbacks and violence against indigenous peoples would not be tolerated, police forces responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd of men, women and children. Such state violence clearly indicates the government’s inability to peacefully dialogue with its indigenous minority.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2>"Our history didn't start in 1988"</h2><p>Under today’s grim context, the National Indigenous Movement has needed to organise resistance on several fronts at once. By focusing on the plight of the Guaraní Kaiowá people, who are enduring one of South America’s most tragic human rights emergencies as they live in grinding poverty dispossessed of their lands and way of life, MNI leaders have traveled to Europe to request that the European Union consider barring the importation of agricultural products produced on their ancestral territories. While a long-term campaign, the MNI’s efforts have already yielded fruit: in 2016 the European Parliament approved a resolution that “condemns” and “deplores” the human rights violations suffered by the Guaraní Kaiowá people in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. This strategy could have far-reaching implications for Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, as mounting denunciations could jeopardise key markets for their export of commodities like soy, sugar and beef.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Given its recent impressive and successful record at resisting an onslaught of attacks, Brazil’s National Indigenous Movement should inspire anyone resisting regressive governments</p> <p>In July the MNI also mobilised to counter the move by the government to impose the “time limit” Interpretation of indigenous land rights. In a resounding series of high-profile protests under the banner of the meme “Our History Didn’t Start in 1988,” the MNI and its allies successfully elevated this polemic issue to the mainstream Brazilian and international media. With the world watching, Brazil’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Attorney General’s opinion, dealing a major blow to this sweeping rollback and its advocate, President Michel Temer.</p> <p>When Sônia Guajajara climbed on stage at Rock in Rio, she brought the message and the power of a resolute and effective social movement. Her call to defend the Amazon’s forests and communities inspired thousands around the world to act in solidarity, who in turned demanded that President Temer cease his reckless agenda. The MNI’s message was essential for the withdrawal, in late September, of the “Renca” decree.</p> <p>Given its recent impressive and successful record at resisting an onslaught of attacks, Brazil’s National Indigenous Movement should inspire anyone resisting regressive governments around the world. It should also inspire generous support from around the world. While working foremost to defend indigenous rights and territories, the MNI also defends our collective wellbeing by helping to preserve the Amazon’s climate-stabilising forests.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Christian Poirier Thu, 05 Oct 2017 16:34:29 +0000 Christian Poirier 113848 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Social movements online: "The right to free speech should apply with full force on the internet" https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/matt-cagle-interview <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Today’s social movements need freedom of speech and freedom to organise, even though much of that activity now takes place online. So what can we do to combat digital surveillance?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Protests against Trump&#039;s Muslim Ban in early 2017 were largely organised online. Ted Eytan:Flickr. Some rights reserved (3).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Protests against Trump&#039;s Muslim Ban in early 2017 were largely organised online. Ted Eytan:Flickr. Some rights reserved (3).jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="395" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protests against Trump's Muslim Ban in early 2017 were largely organised online. Image: Ted Eytan/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><a href="https://www.aclu.org/bio/matt-cagle">Matt Cagle</a> is a Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. A lot of his work relates to issues raised by new technologies in Silicon Valley, but he also works on surveillance issues at the local level by law enforcement agencies such as the police.</em></p><p><em><em>This interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p> <h2><strong>Anna Norman (AN): Can you give an overview of the positives and negatives of new technologies specifically in relation to social protest</strong></h2> <p>Matt Cagle (MC): Technology has become an essential tool for organising people for changing hearts and minds and for making alliances and contacts with people who we may not even know. We’ve seen again and again that technology has been essential for helping to organise social protest, starting back in the `Arab Spring’ but also at the start of this year when thousands of Americans organised online and went to airports in the United States to protest against President Trump’s Muslim Ban. These protests were attended in great numbers, and were really effective for shifting the debate about political issues of the day.</p> <p>We’ve also seen this with Black Lives Matter, which has used social media to reveal police abuses, the killing of black and brown men, and which has really changed the conversation about police violence in the United States. They’ve become a political force in the United States.</p> <p>But the same technologies that allow organisers and activists to spread their message and to gain new followers are really useful to law enforcement for surveillance as well. So we’ve seen efforts in the United States by police departments, who conduct surveillance of social media posts that activists are putting online. And this is happening without the knowledge of the users themselves; we do not expect or desire law enforcement to conduct surveillance of posts when we post something on Instagram or Facebook.</p> <h2><strong>AN: How much of a development is this from surveillance practices of the pre-digital era?</strong></h2> <p>MC: Governments in the United States have used surveillance to counter political movements and to personally embarrass people for many years now, it’s not a new thing. We saw this back during Martin Luther King’s era, during the civil rights era. The FBI conducted illegal surveillance of his associates, and they used that information to try to blackmail members of his movement and to discourage them from speaking out against legal racism in the United States.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Just because we’re using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to conduct political discourse today is not a free pass for the government to conduct dragnet surveillance</p><p>So this is a continuing trend and it’s continued to be an issue in the United States today, where you have Black Lives Matter and other activists who are organising for change and trying to get the US government and local police to change their practices. In the United States we learned, in 2016, that there are sophisticated surveillance products that draw information from social media and then create easy-to-search databases for police to look at, [to monitor] where activists are meeting, what they’re saying and when they’re saying it.</p><h2><strong>AN: How would you respond to the argument that states need these powers of digital surveillance to combat terrorism?</strong></h2><p>MC: It’s important that as more and more of our speech and more and more of our civil discussion moves onto the internet that the government doesn’t get a free pass or a blank cheque to conduct surveillance of our activities simply because they take place in the digital sphere. If the government has actual suspicion, they can of course conduct investigations. But just because we’re using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to conduct political discourse today is not a free pass for the government to conduct dragnet surveillance of our conduct online.</p><p>The right to protest and the right to free speech should apply with full force on the internet. As more and more of our speech moves onto platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important that there is transparency, accountability and oversight for the conduct of those companies and the government vis-à-vis free speech. It’s important to today’s social movements that free speech has a place online and that there is freedom to speak out against government abuses.</p> <h2>AN: What can people do to counteract state digital surveillance, particularly when it comes to organising protests and demonstrations?</h2> <p>MC: It’s important to take steps to ensure that your data is private and your data is secure, especially if you’re going to participate in a public protest. So that means doing things like using secure and encrypted messaging apps. One particular app is <a href="https://signal.org/">Signal</a>, which encrypts messages end-to-end so that if your government seeks information from the company, the company actually cannot produce the data of your messages.</p> <p>It’s also important to make sure that you know your rights as a protester before you go into the streets and exercise your right to speak freely in the public square.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Public social protest is going to continue to be important for ensuring the strength of democracy in the United States</p> <p>Finally, it’s important to make sure that you’ve updated your apps and that you’re using a passcode on your device that encrypts your device in case you do have an interaction with law enforcement. It’s important to make sure that law enforcement cannot just simply rifle through the contents of your device.</p> <h2><strong>AN: How important is the right to protest for modern-day social movements in the United States?</strong></h2><p>MC: Modern social activism movements depend on protest to draw attention to causes, attention to injustices, and to rally support for change and to draw attention to the goals that the activists and organisers might have. We’ve seen this with Black Lives Matter, and we’ve seen this with protesters of the Dakota Access pipeline. Through the use of peaceful protest these activists and these organisations have rallied people around their cause and raised awareness about abuses of the governments in the United States that impact black and brown Americans and also indigenous Americans.</p><p>This type of protest, protest that draws attention to injustices, is going to continue to be very important and very relevant during President Trump’s tenure. We have a president right now who has been outwardly aggressive towards free speech and free press and who has sought to create a deportation mission that would target immigrants working in the United States and living in the United States. Public social protest is going to continue to be important for ensuring the strength of democracy in the United States.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag AN INTERVIEW WITH MATT CAGLE (ACLU) Thu, 05 Oct 2017 11:41:38 +0000 AN INTERVIEW WITH MATT CAGLE (ACLU) 113823 at https://www.opendemocracy.net State surveillance and protest: “They try to make people think twice before taking to the streets” https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/interview-ramy-raoof <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>State surveillance of digital communication in Egypt – and around the world – profoundly affects people's ability to organise demonstrations and assemblies by creating a culture of fear.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Ramy Raoof high res.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Ramy Raoof high res.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="396" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Digital security expert Ramy Raoof. Image: CELS. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>Ramy Raoof is a digital security expert bent on helping activists, journalists and others to protect their privacy, and he has won international awards for his efforts. He serves as senior research technologist at the <a href="https://eipr.org/en">Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)</a>, a member of the <a href="http://www.inclo.net/">International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO)</a>, which prioritises work on informational rights as well as police brutality and social protest.</em></p> <p><em>Ramy has extensive experience in the Middle East and North Africa, and in recent months he has been sharing his knowledge with organisations in Latin America. He has seen firsthand how Egyptian officials use the information they collect through surveillance to harass and smear people working at NGOs. This crackdown on activists, which has intensified since 2013, seeks to silence dissent and diverse viewpoints. But Ramy says Egypt is far from alone in its murky use of state surveillance: the problem is global. </em></p> <h2>CELS: How does the use of surveillance technologies serve to chill the right to protest?</h2> <p>Ramy Raoof (RR): The way (states) are using surveillance is to limit people’s ability to organise. And people organise through different means: it could be through mobile apps or websites, with different tools ranging from Facebook and WhatsApp to Signal and Telegram and other ways. And then the adversary deploys surveillance to monitor people – not to ban them, but to know what they are going to do and then disrupt this action in some way.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">They create this sense of fear that your emails and communications and everything are under surveillance</p> <p>They think through surveillance they will disrupt people’s ability to organise and speak freely. So when there is a group of people trying to organise a protest or a demonstration or a sit-in or a march, or any form of assembly in a public space, the main way to make it ineffective is by monitoring people’s lives and then making an example of one of them.</p><p> <iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FOvnAVEBufc" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>How do they do this?</h2> <p>RR: When they make arrests, they will say: we have seen them planning this over email, or we have seen some Facebook activity about this. They create this sense of fear that your emails and communications and everything are under surveillance, even if it’s not true, but they just keep saying it so people will believe it.</p> <p>When the adversary starts to attack the leaders of the community, or certain specific prominent figures, it’s basically to send a negative message to the others: we know what you are doing, we can see what you are doing, and we will punish you.</p> <p>The whole idea is that they are trying to make people think twice before taking to the streets. And that’s why in some countries they not only deploy surveillance, they also make public assemblies illegal. So doing a protest, a march, a demonstration, a call for protest in itself is an illegal act and it’s complemented by surveillance.</p> <h2>In Egypt, how does the government justify its surveillance?</h2> <p>RR: One of the few times they had to speak publicly, when we were doing campaigns and research and publications against this, they went from not commenting, to denying, to admitting it’s happening, and then using the same international arguments used by different countries to justify this, most famously fighting terrorism: “It’s only used against the bad guys, you have nothing to hide.”</p> <p>They have also said “we are following the lead of the UK and US, we want to be like democratic countries so we are doing this.” And at that time <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/aug/11/cameron-call-social-media-clampdown">David Cameron was calling to block social media</a>, so the guys in Egypt were super happy because (they thought) “OK, it’s coming from the UK, we’re also going to do the same, we will follow his steps.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">We cannot have an informed discussion and share knowledge and critique ourselves if we feel we are always being watched</p><h2><span style="font-size: 17px;">Who is actually being monitored by states?</span></h2> <p>RR: When we look at the people who are under surveillance, they are not the most criminal or dangerous people. They are just normal people: they could be activists, artists, lawyers, university teachers, people who teach kids, they could be restaurants, coffee shops, it could be anyone.</p> <p>So the assumption that (states) would only monitor specific profiles or specific kinds of people – that was true many, many years ago, but now we are seeing the scope of the mass surveillance going on, and they are just after everyone’s personal life.&nbsp;</p> <p>We cannot have an informed discussion and share knowledge and critique ourselves if we feel we are always being watched. This means we don’t really have privacy to freely think and speak and discuss different topics without any interference or predetermined answers.</p> <h2>What can activists do to protect themselves?</h2> <p>RR: Since they are using surveillance to disrupt people’s ability to organise, people can fight back by adopting and advocating for free and open encryption because it will disrupt their surveillance ecosystem.</p> <p>Across all countries and all intelligence agencies, they really hate encryption because it doesn’t allow them to see what they would like to see, and they would like to see everything, anytime, without restrictions, without permissions, without due process, without justification, without oversight. And encryption disrupts that.</p> <p>That’s why encryption is very crucial to a healthier society in an open and free manner, because it’s our enabling mechanism towards private communication.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Wed, 04 Oct 2017 15:20:58 +0000 Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) 113796 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lethal in disguise: do crowd-control weapons need to be more tightly regulated? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/lethal-in-disguise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A report by the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) details the health consequences of&nbsp; "less-lethal" weapons, with a call for more regulation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Studio Incendo. Tear gas, umbrella movement protest 2014. Flickr (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Studio Incendo. Tear gas, umbrella movement protest 2014. Flickr (2).jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="405" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Police use tear gas at an Umbrella Movement protest in Hong Kong in 2014. Image: Studio Incendo/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-style: italic;">This article is part of&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a><span style="font-style: italic;">, a partnership&nbsp;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.&nbsp;</span></p><p>In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of popular protests around the world. In many cases, police and security forces have responded to these protests in ways that profoundly undermine the fundamental rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, often leading to escalations in violence through unwarranted, inappropriate or disproportionate uses of force. Law enforcement throughout the world is increasingly responding to popular protests with crowd-control weapons (CCWs).</p> <p>However, there is a significant gap in knowledge about the health effects of CCWs and an absence of meaningful international standards or guidelines around their use. The proliferation of CCWs – kinetic impact projectiles, chemical irritants, water cannons, disorientation devices, acoustic weapons and directed energy weapons –&nbsp;without adequate regulation, training, monitoring and/or accountability has led to the widespread and routine use or misuse of these weapons, resulting in injury, disability and death.</p> <p>Because of this, the <a href="http://www.inclo.net/">International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO)</a> and <a href="http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/">Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)</a> partnered to document the health consequences of CCWs and examine their roles and limitations in protest contexts and make recommendations about their safe use. This resulted in our in-depth report, <a href="http://www.inclo.net/issues/lethal-in-disguise.html">Lethal in Disguise</a>, as well as the video below.</p><h3></h3><h3> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NW6Qc1tOGA8?rel=0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <p><strong>Misuse of crowd-control weapons – with serious consequences</strong></p></h3><p>There are many flagrant examples of the misuse of CCWs, which are documented in detail in our <a href="http://www.inclo.net/issues/lethal-in-disguise.html">report</a>. In Kenya in January 2015, five children and one police officer were injured in a stampede resulting from tear gas being fired directly at schoolchildren protesting the seizure of a playground.</p><p>In the United States, police intervention in the 2014 Black Lives Matter protests included the indiscriminate use of tear gas, disorientation devices, acoustic devices, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets, as described in openDemocracy's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest/black-lives-matter-protests">interview with BLM activist and lawyer Justin Hansford</a>. </p><p>In 2015, Shaimaa’ El-Sabbagh, a 31-year-old activist and member of the Egyptian Popular Socialist Alliance party, was killed in a public assembly that was forcibly dispersed by police using crowd- control weapons. El-Sabbagh was shot with a 12-gauge shotgun, a weapon commonly used by the Egyptian police, particularly in responding to protests. She died from internal bleeding in the lung caused by birdshot injuries sustained to the chest, back and face. In another case in Egypt,&nbsp;a police officer was caught on video deliberately firing pellets at protesters’ upper bodies in order to maximise injury.&nbsp;</p> <p>And in Jerusalem, black sponge-tipped rubber bullets are used by Israeli police and security forces as crowd-control weapons, but their unregulated use has led to serious injury – even to people not involved in demonstrations, as shown by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest/non-lethal-weapons-jerusalem">Tali Mayer in her project with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel </a>(ACRI) photographing Palestinians injured by these bullets.&nbsp;</p><h3><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 17px;">A rapidly growing industry – yet few regulations</span></h3> <p>CCW development has spread across the globe during the last two decades and the number of companies that manufacture and trade in these weapons has greatly increased. While traditional manufacturers continue to develop CCWs (in France, Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States), new companies are emerging globally, with production now occurring in more than 50 countries. The increase in the use of force during protests may be explained by the rapidly growing supply of CCWs, which makes weapons cheaper for various law enforcement units to purchase and then utilise with little provocation.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.40.25 PM.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.40.25 PM.png" alt="" title="" width="620" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Unfortunately, international mechanisms have not kept pace with the rapid development of crowd- control technologies and techniques. International standards addressing the use of CCWs are very limited and there are no limitations on the kinds of weapons that may be used in demonstrations, or on the manufacture and trade of CCWs.</p> <p>The lack of evidence-based regulations on the use of CCWs is exacerbated by the relatively underdeveloped standards on: how to effectively police protests; how to isolate small pockets of protesters who may turn violent without resorting to the use of indiscriminate force; how to prevent escalation and confrontation between protesters and the police or security forces; and how to mitigate any harm or injury when it is necessary to use force – among other issues related to the policing of protests.</p> <p>While CCWs may theoretically offer an option for reduced force, in practice, and perhaps because of the assumption that they are always less lethal, the weapons are often used in an indiscriminate manner, without exhausting all other possible peaceful means first. This is due, in large part, to inadequate pre-deployment testing, insufficient training, lack of regulations and poor accountability mechanisms.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.40.14 PM_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.40.14 PM_0.png" alt="" title="" width="620" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <h3><strong>A lack of accountability</strong></h3> <p>An effective accountability mechanism is a key element in promoting appropriate crowd management techniques and the proportionate use of force by law enforcement. Unfortunately, in most cases, there are no efficient accountability mechanisms in place. Even in countries in which an external police oversight agency exists, it is usually too weak and lacks the necessary powers, resources, independence, and transparency to be effective. The prosecution and conviction of law enforcement officials who use CCWs in an unlawful or excessive way is rare.</p> <p>The perception of CCWs as non-lethal mechanisms results in weaker controls on their use: weapons and munitions registries are often not kept or they are concealed. In some cases, post-incident documentation is limited to recording munitions discharge, while detailed recording of incidents and of injuries is absent. Most of this information, if available, is concealed from the public or from independent experts and monitors. This renders accountability measures impossible or ineffective.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.43.47 PM.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.43.47 PM.png" alt="" title="" width="620" height="310" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <h3><strong>Is state use of crowd-control weapons justified? And if so, how should their use be regulated?</strong></h3> <p>INCLO and PHR believe that the use of CCWs in assemblies should be a last resort and must always meet the tests of proportionality, necessity, legality and accountability. The fact that an assembly may be considered unlawful does not justify the use of CCWs. In any event, the explicit goal of any intervention in a protest situation should be to de-escalate the situation and promote and protect the safety and the rights of those present.</p> <p>Our <a href="http://www.inclo.net/pdf/lethal-in-disguise.pdf">report includes detailed <strong>recommendations</strong></a>&nbsp;to reduce injuries, disabilities and death caused by CCWs, to encourage the creation of international guidelines for the use of CCWs, to ensure protection of the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression, and to develop safe practices for the occasions where these weapons are deployed.&nbsp;</p> <p>The most effective method to prevent violence in the context of protests is to engage in negotiations and open a dialogue with protesters. If CCWs are deployed, their use should always be necessary and proportionate to the threat faced and to the legitimate aim pursued.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.39.45 PM.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.39.45 PM.png" alt="" title="" width="620" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) Wed, 04 Oct 2017 07:44:04 +0000 International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) 113767 at https://www.opendemocracy.net La protesta como un asunto de derechos humanos https://www.opendemocracy.net/protesta/introduccion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Esta semana presentamos un proyecto conjunto con las organizaciones de derechos humanos, el CELS y la red INCLO, con el apoyo de la ACLU, sobre la importancia fundamental de la protesta para el ejercicio de los derechos humanos y la democracia.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 8.26.56 PM.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 8.26.56 PM.png" alt="" title="" width="620" height="217" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><h3>Un proyecto sobre la fuerza de la protesta</h3><p>La movilización pública, la protesta social y los derechos humanos están entrelazados. Por un lado, porque las protestas se originan, en general, en el rechazo a diferentes formas de violencia estatal y en la vulneración de derechos: a la tierra, a la alimentación, al trabajo, a la vivienda, a la libertad religiosa, entre muchos otros. Por otro lado, porque el acto de protestar involucra en sí mismo el ejercicio de derechos como la libertad de expresión, el derecho de reunión, de petición, de disenso. Las democracias se enriquecen con la protesta por el carácter expresivo de las manifestaciones, pero también por su tenor deliberativo y confrontativo. </p><p>Finalmente, porque &nbsp;la intervención de los Estados frente a la movilización pública suele resultar violatoria de los derechos a &nbsp;la integridad, la salud y, en los casos más extremos, a la vida. En muchas situaciones también se arriesga la libertad ya que los manifestantes son detenidos de manera arbitraria y en muchos casos sometidos a procesos penales por conductas que son propias del acto de protestar. En el modo en que los gobiernos amenazan o protegen los derechos de los manifestantes se pone en juego el carácter democrático o autoritario de su respuesta.</p> <p>Por este conjunto de factores, las protestas sociales son un escenario privilegiado de intervención de las organizaciones nacionales de derechos humanos. El CELS y la red INCLO pensamos conjuntamente con openDemocracy esta alianza editorial –que tiene el apoyo de la American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) –, para condensar en un espacio la diversidad de facetas y vínculos entre derechos humanos y protesta social. Aportan al proyecto expertos, académicos, activistas y militantes. Nuestra idea es reunir voces que muchas veces no están en contacto, ya sea porque pertenecen a campos de trabajo e intervención diferentes, como por las distancias geográficas continentales, hemisféricas, por la segmentación que a veces atraviesa a los debates del norte y los del sur. </p><p>Por todo esto, el proyecto que presentamos conforma una plataforma común para dar a conocer e intercambiar ideas entre un conjunto heterogéneo de actores de todo el mundo. En la alianza de seis meses de duración se abordarán diversos temas surgidos del continente americano y de otras regiones, entre ellos el uso de las armas "menos letales", el movimiento <em>Black Lives Matter</em>, las protestas de mujeres y de estudiantes, los conflictos rurales y el impacto de la vigilancia digital.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Right to Protest tag Tue, 03 Oct 2017 19:23:27 +0000 openDemocracy 113742 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo: "We were born on the march" https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/mothers-plaza-de-mayo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One of the most visually symbolic movements against Argentina’s dictatorship, the Mothers' tenacious weekly protests culminated in a massive demonstration in the name of memory, truth and justice in 2017.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Beatrice Murch:Flickr. Some rights reserved. Las Madres, March 2009.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Beatrice Murch:Flickr. Some rights reserved. Las Madres, March 2009.jpg" alt="The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo protesting in 2009 with their white headscarves" title="" width="640" height="423" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Las Madres in 2009. Image: Beatrice Murch/Flickr. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><em>"One day a mother said that nothing we were doing was going to do us any good, that we should go to the plaza, that we should meet at Plaza de Mayo, that since time immemorial when the people had wanted to know, they had demanded news about what worried them at Plaza de Mayo."</em> &nbsp;Haydeé Gastelú de García Buela</p><p><strong>In this article, we use testimonies of Haydée Gastelú de García Buela, María Adela Gard de Antokoletz, Vera Jarach and Taty Almeida, members of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, from interviews available in the&nbsp;<a href="http://catalogo.memoriaabierta.org.ar/cgi-bin/koha/opac-search.pl?branch_group_limit=branch%3AAO">oral archive of Memoria Abierta</a>&nbsp;(Open Memory).</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>The white headscarf is an international symbol of the struggle for human rights and the mobilisation of family members, especially women, in public spaces. That symbol has a powerful and moving story of which the mothers of the disappeared of Argentina are protagonists. It goes back to the resistance and first forms of social protest against the military regime, which continued throughout the dictatorship and in the democratic era, forging a wide consensus regarding demands for justice over crimes against humanity and the rejection of all forms of impunity.</p> <p>While the empty plaza is one of the most evocative images of the 1976 coup d’état, the incremental return to the streets, starting with the rounds of the <em>Madres de Plaza de Mayo</em> (‘Mothers of Plaza de Mayo’), and, years later, the mass protests against impunity for crimes against humanity consolidated the symbolic, social and political link between street mobilisation, human rights and democracy in Argentina.</p> <h3><strong>La plaza de los pañuelos</strong></h3> <p>This year, an event in Argentina reinforced this link between the white headscarf and the human rights struggle: <em>la plaza de los pañuelos</em> (literally, ‘the square of headscarves’) on 10 May. Around half a million people made their way to the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires to reject a Supreme Court decision (see box, right), on 3 May 2017, aimed at dramatically reducing prison terms for perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the last dictatorship. The Supreme Court ruled that Luis Muiña, who was convicted of such crimes, could benefit from a sharp reduction to his prison term, which rendered the sanction against him insignificant. The sentence was generally regarded as a new form of impunity.</p> <p>Argentines flooded the streets, rallying under the slogan of ‘Judges: Never Again. No mass murderers freed.’ This show of force marked a new milestone in our country’s process of memory, truth and justice – which has been recognised internationally for its prosecutions in ordinary tribunals that respect due process guarantees. Once again, Argentines showed they were not willing to make any concessions, or accept any rollbacks, in sanctioning the dictatorship’s crimes.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/plaza de los panuelos.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/plaza de los panuelos.jpg" alt="Crowds hold up white headscarves in a protest against the 2x1 law in Argentina" title="" width="620" height="413" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"2x1" Plaza de los Pañuelos protest in May 2017. Image: Mariano Sokal. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>In record time, before the massive march on the square began, Argentina’s Congress unanimously passed a law contrary to the high court interpretation. That night, the <em>Madres </em>were accompanied by hundreds of thousands of people who raised the group’s traditional white headscarves above their heads – the culmination of a long history of struggle that began 40 years earlier in the same square.</p> <h3><strong>"The goal was for people to see us"</strong></h3> <p>At the end of April 1977, when the dictatorship was at its most repressive, a small group of just 14 mothers (see textbox)&nbsp;gathered for the first time in the Plaza de Mayo, the centre of political power in Argentina, to demand answers regarding the disappearance of their sons and daughters. This initial group consisted of mothers who did not know one another. They had only crossed paths along the obligatory pilgrimage they made to different institutions following the coup of 24 March 1976.</p> <p>The relatives of the disappeared ran into each other as they carried out the bureaucratic search for their loved ones. They met at the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and at an office of the Interior Ministry in the Government House in front of Plaza de Mayo, that had been assigned for the stated purpose of receiving complaints from relatives and offering information. The Mothers would also cross paths in the Stella Maris Church, home of the Military Ordinariate, where its secretary, Emilio Grasselli, met with the mothers but "took more information than they offered."</p> <p>It was in the Ordinariate where the mothers arranged their first meeting for 30 April 1977. The initiative came from Azucena Villaflor, who came from a political family and was convinced that it was only by joining forces and making demands in the Plaza de Mayo that they could achieve what they were failing at accomplishing separately. In the interviews recorded in the <a href="http://catalogo.memoriaabierta.org.ar/cgi-bin/koha/opac-search.pl?branch_group_limit=branch%3AAO">oral archive of Memoria Abierta</a>, different mothers remember the beginning of their struggle: "The idea was to get together with those who were looking for someone. It turned out that we ended up being 14 mothers looking for sons and daughters who had disappeared. We were looking for them and looking for answers."</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">That space was the stage that the mothers needed to denounce the disappearances, for historical and political reasons</p><p>The meeting date was chosen without consulting the calendar; it turned out to be a Saturday and the plaza was deserted: "It was us and the pigeons." As the purpose was to make their demands visible vis-à-vis the authorities and society, they decided to reschedule the gatherings first to a Friday and then to a Thursday – the day of the week which became the mandatory meeting day of the mothers for the next 40 years. They continue to gather at the Plaza de Mayo today, every week.</p> <p>That space was the stage that the mothers needed to denounce the disappearances, for historical and political reasons. It was Azucena Villaflor who insisted on meeting in the Plaza de Mayo, from where they could "cross [to the Government building] and make petitions." She is also the one who recalled that "since time immemorial when the people had wanted to know, they had demanded news about what worried them at Plaza de Mayo."</p> <p>The mothers remember that they needed to get together because that was the only way that "allowed us to piece together the news that was denied to us." They were overwhelmed by the lack of answers, the mockery and the contempt with which they were received in public offices. Because of the silence and fear of political and social institutions by most citizens, the goal was "for people to see us, but also for (de facto president) Videla to receive us."&nbsp;</p> <p>Without agreeing previously, they arrived at that first meeting with no bags so that nobody would think they could be armed. Some brought some fabric, or something else to sew; others carried purses under their arms, along with their house keys, IDs and public transport tickets: "We were able to grow because they belittled us." During the first meetings, small groups of two or three took turns sitting on the plaza’s benches to talk, always under surveillance. They did not walk. There were soldiers with long guns and people who photographed them: "Anyone who says she was not afraid is not being honest."</p> <h3><strong>"We learned to walk in fear"</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Madres old photo.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Madres old photo.jpg" alt="Early photo of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo protesting" title="" width="620" height="441" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Mothers in the early days of the movement. Image: Adelina Alaye, Madres de Plaza de Mayo - Línea Fundadora collection. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>They began to walk because the police did not allow them to talk in groups: "Ladies, you have to move because there is a state of siege and there can be no meeting. You have to walk," they were told. They would link arms in groups of two or three and walk as they had been ordered. Without leaving the square. Many times they were thrown out. "We learned to dodge and feint". They would leave along one street, circle around and return to the square from another street. Several times they were arrested and argued with the soldiers: "No sir, this lady is unwell. She cannot leave [the square]. As you well know her son has been kidnapped." They began to walk around the Pirámide de Mayo, a monument in the centre of the square. A group of women walking around a monument attracted attention. Little by little, another circle would form around the mothers: "People passed by and asked us, Who are you?" Friends, relatives and foreign journalists began to accompany the round. "Those were very rough times and, although we gathered the courage to go to the streets, we could not shake the fear that they were going to throw us out or arrest us, as happened several times. We lived torn between fear and the need to find our children."</p> <p>At first, they did not wear headscarves on their heads. But when they decided to participate in the traditional religious procession to Luján that same year to make their demands heard there, they agreed to place a white hankerchief on their heads, representing nappies (diapers) as a symbol of their children. "The headscarf first appeared when we made the first visit to Luján because we often got lost and could not identify one another... So the idea arose… it was not really a headscarf, but a nappy. Symbolically it was a nappy that we tied around our heads and, practically, it allowed us to recognise one another."</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The mothers had not been involved in political activism before. They learned the value of their presence at the plaza through the very act of protest</p><p>In December 1977, eight months after the first meeting at the square, officials arrested three mothers who are still missing to this day. María Ponce de Bianco and Esther Ballestrino de Careaga were kidnapped from the Church of the Holy Cross on 8 December 1977, by a naval squad. Two days later, as international Human Rights Day was commemorated and <em>La Nación</em> newspaper published the mothers’ first petition denouncing more than a thousand disappearances, Azucena Villaflor de DeVincenti was also kidnapped, just steps from her home.</p> <p>The impact was devastating and frightening, but the mothers maintained their struggle and did not withdraw from the public space: "We held on to what Azucena had told us: 'Even if I’m not around, keep going'.”</p> <h3><strong>"What I learned from the streets, the protests, the discussions"</strong></h3> <p>The mothers’ accounts indicate that using the square as a form of denunciation and demand was not something that was immediately successful. It was a gradual strategy. It started with meetings at the benches. It continued with the walks in pairs. Then, with the small round. Later with the extended round: "When we reached 70, I remember we celebrated." That journey was not linear; there were interruptions, disruptions, comings and goings. "There was a time when we stopped going to the plaza because they were arresting the mothers. We started meeting in neighbourhood churches, early in the morning. Often, we were kicked out." The mothers had not been involved in political activism before. They learned the value of their presence at the plaza through the very act of protest: "I completed higher education in the streets; I got it from the streets, the protests, the discussions."</p> <p>The marches taking place every Thursday symbolise the emergence of these women in public space at a time when the use of public space was forbidden for any social or political expression: no parties, no guilds, no neighbourhood associations or free press. The mothers' presence at the plaza cleared the way for the fight for human rights in Argentina: "We joined to search for our sons and daughters; we did not decide to form an organisation with a specific agenda. We were born on the march." The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo are part of the human rights movement that has maintained an activism that has at its core the claim for "trial and punishment" and incrementally incorporated a broad agenda of demands linked to other rights.</p> <h3><strong>Democratic accord</strong></h3> <p>During the last stretch of the dictatorship in 1982, the mothers were the protagonists of enormous mobilisations, such as the Marcha por la Vida (‘March for Life’) on 5 October and the Marcha de la Resistencia (‘March of Resistance’) on 9 and 10 December. Other human rights organisations, political parties and some trade unions also took part in these marches. This confluence of actors was an early sign of the broad consensus against state terrorism that was present in Argentine society.</p> <p>After the dictatorship, the mothers maintained their demand for justice for their sons and daughters, and the weekly ‘rounds’ by the mothers continued in Plaza de Mayo after the transition to democracy. The <em>Madres</em> have also taken to the streets for other social demands over the years, as their solidarity movement has spread to other groups and issues. Their white headscarves, their demands that their children be returned alive, and their fight for justice and accountability have over time been echoed in the struggles of families of victims of injustice around the world.</p> <p>The mothers are a clear reference point for the human rights movement; their legitimacy has been strengthened by years of consistent and sustained struggle. More widely, they are a reference for a broad constellation of social and political actors who, despite nuances in outlook, have forged a fundamental democratic accord based on the rejection of the crimes against humanity committed during Argentina’s last dictatorship.</p> <p>This social and political constellation has taken to the streets and occupied public space in critical moments of the country’s recent history, where the progress of justice has been threatened in various ways (due to military pressure, laws, decrees, judicial decisions). This has repeatedly happened since the end of the dictatorship, during more than three decades of democracy.</p> <p>And this happened again in 2017 when some half a million people raised the white headscarves of the Mothers in an act of protest against what they considered an inadmissible form of impunity, in that same square where 14 women met in 1977, united by pain and the fight for answers over their children’s disappearance.</p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><div><em><em><em><br /></em></em></em></div><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag MARCELA PERELMAN AND VERONICA TORRAS Tue, 03 Oct 2017 19:05:59 +0000 MARCELA PERELMAN AND VERONICA TORRAS 113668 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Non Una di Meno protests for women's rights: "Enough is enough" https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/non-una-di-meno <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The recent protest against&nbsp;<em>obiezione di coscienza</em>&nbsp;– whereby Itailan gynecologists&nbsp;can refuse to conduct abortions – is the latest of many demonstrations by this growing women's rights movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Claudi Torrisi image (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Claudi Torrisi image (2).jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="422" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Non Una di Meno protest on 28 September in Rome. Image: Claudia Torrisi. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>“We take back the streets, we take back the squares.” The voice through the megaphone resonates in the air as groups of women reach piazza dell’Esquilino in Rome, holding fuchsia-and-black placards and shaking rolling pins. It’s 28 September, <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22167&amp;LangID=E">International Safe Abortion Day</a>, and the Italian feminist movement Non Una Di Meno (Not One Less) has organised demonstrations and initiatives across the <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1GtxKSLVMGMp-Ry9VzAmmTrxoy9U&amp;ll=41.52471464993451%2C15.173311124999941&amp;z=7">whole country</a> to protest against the massive <em>obiezione di coscienza</em> (“conscientious objection”) of gynecologists – whereby doctors can refuse to conduct legal abortions on moral grounds – and to demand the women’s right to choose when it comes to their bodies.</p> <p><a href="http://www.salute.gov.it/imgs/C_17_pubblicazioni_2552_allegato.pdf">Data collected annually by the department of health</a> shows that as many as seven out of ten Italian gynecologists are <em>obiettori di coscienza</em> (“conscientious objectors” in relation to abortion). In some regions, this figure is even higher: 93% in Molise (in central Italy); over 80% in Sicily and Lazio (where Rome is). Many women are forced to travel around until they find a hospital where they can access the services they need. “Conscientious objection is one of the kinds of violence perpetrated against women every day,” the activists say, yelling the old slogan: “The body is mine and I decide.”</p> <p>Safe abortion is just one of the Italian movement’s claims, however. </p><h3>"Rape is rape, regardless of the nationality of the rapist"</h3><p>In recent weeks, the theme of violence against women has loomed large in Italy, following <a href="http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2017/08/29/rimini-rape-gang-had-tried-previously_902a6557-dde8-44f2-af48-c9b327131aeb.html">the rape of two women</a> by a group of four immigrant men on a beach in Rimini on 26 August.</p> <p>Following the incident, politicians and the media talked of a “rape emergency”, and started a campaign for womens’ safety based on racist scaremongering: drumming up a fear of foreigners and migrants; demanding more surveillance in the streets and more police powers; and giving rape-prevention advice to women. A Rome newspaper, <a href="http://www.ilmessaggero.it/primopiano/cronaca/roma_insicura_stupri_manuale_donne-3238706.html"><em>Il Messaggero</em></a>, published a handbook telling women to avoid “dangerous situations”, and to accept protection through surrendering to the “need to recognise the risks and weaknesses of female destiny.”</p> <p>“We don’t want our bodies used for racist and xenophobic campaigns: rape is rape, regardless of the nationality of the rapist. We reject the culture of possession that triggers male violence and we do not accept the blackmail of fear,” was the response from Non Una Di Meno activists. “The streets of our cities are not savannas infested with predators from which we can defend only by renouncing the freedom to move.” Moreover, they add, “the majority of rapes occur among the domestic walls. The rapist is often a husband, a partner, a father, a cousin.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The demonstrations have also created a space of self-determination for women to challenge all the aspects of patriarchy&nbsp;</p> <p>This is not the first time Non Una Di Meno protesters have taken to the streets in Italy. Over a year or so of activity the movement has united different feminist groups in the country under one banner, forming one big, inclusive wave of protest. “We will be a tide” is one of the slogans of the movement, not by chance.</p> <h3><strong>A worldwide feminist movement</strong></h3> <p>Non Una Di Meno takes its name from Ni Una Menos, the <a href="http://niunamenos.com.ar/">movement conceived in Argentina in mid 2015</a>, after more than 200,000 people<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/08/argentina-murder-women-gender-violence-protest?CMP=share_btn_tw"> marched on the streets of Buenos Aires</a> (and large crowds gathered in other cities) following the murder of 14-year-old Chiara Paez, whose body was found buried in the garden of her boyfriend’s house in May 2015.</p> <p>A group of journalists, artists and actresses, not part of existing feminist associations, decided to do something. “We protested, rallying around the slogan and hashtag #NiUnaMenos (“NotOneLess”, meaning we must not lose one more woman to violence),” Hinde Pomeraniec, one of the women who organized the demonstration, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/08/argentina-murder-women-gender-violence-protest?CMP=share_btn_tw">explained</a>. It became one of the biggest demonstrations seen in Argentina in the last 30 years.</p> <p>The movement has spread across<a href="http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-37711297"> several Latin American countries</a>. Though many protests have been sparked from specific femicides, the demonstrations have also created a space of self-determination for women to challenge all the aspects of patriarchy – including domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, abortion, gender roles, sexual objectification, the gender pay gap – and to force a debate about the recognition and value of the women in society. One form of protest by the movement has been to strike: the women interrupt their productive and reproductive functions, claiming that “if our lives have no value, we do not produce.” For instance, on 3 October 2016, thousands of women in Poland<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/06/polands-parliament-rejects-near-total-ban-on-abortion-after-protests"> boycotted their jobs and classes</a> to protest against a bill to ban abortion. </p> <p>The turning point in Italy was the femicide of 22 year-old Sara Di Pietrantonio, who was <a href="http://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2016/05/30/news/omicidio_sara_fermato_l_ex_fidanzato-140896758/">burnt to death </a>by her ex-boyfriend. Following her death, different groups – established feminists, new feminist groups, trans-feminist and queer groups, women’s refuges and anti-violence organisations – met at an assembly in Rome. That meeting was the first step for the birth of a new movement.</p> <p>“We could not wait any longer regarding the problem of male violence. Enough was enough, we had to make our voices heard,” Sara Picchi, one of the founders of Non Una Di Meno, stated. “We took the slogan from the Argentine women’s movement because we liked the idea of building a worldwide movement that holds protests on the same days and in the same forms. Gender-based violence is an international issue that affects women in every country.”</p> <p>The symbol of the movement is the Russian doll (<em>Matryoshka</em>): one woman inside another, from Italy to Europe, to Latin America.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Claudia Torrisi 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Claudia Torrisi 2.jpg" alt="Women holding rolling pins at a women's rights protest in Rome" title="" width="620" height="465" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Non Una di Meno protest in Rome, 28 September 2017. Image: Claudia Torrisi. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h3><strong>“A feminist movement is rising”</strong></h3> <p>According to the report by <a href="https://www.istat.it/it/files/2015/06/Violenze_contro_le_donne.pdf">Italian <em>National Institute of Statistics</em></a> (ISTAT), about 7 million women between 16 and 70 years (almost one in three) has suffered some form of physical or sexual violence in their lives. 4.5 million women has been the victim of sexual violence (even attempted), 652,000 was raped. Partners, or former partners, are usually the perpetrators of the most serious violations: they are responsible for almost 63% of rapes. ISTAT’s president Giorgio Alleva <a href="http://www.redattoresociale.it/Notiziario/Articolo/548266/Femminicidi-149-donne-uccise-nel-2016-3-su-4-in-famiglia">said</a> that “more than one in three women who has suffered violence from her partner has reported wounds, bruises, bruises or other injuries.” In 2016, he added, “about 149 women have been murdered, and nearly 3 out 4 were committed in the family: 59 women were killed by their partner, 17 by a former partner and 33 by a relative.”</p> <p>The first big demonstration held by Non Una Di Meno was in Rome on 26 November 2016, the day after the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It was organized by “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/ReteIoDecido/"><em>Io decido</em></a>” (a group from Rome who fight for the application of the law on abortion), <a href="http://www.direcontrolaviolenza.it/"><em>“D.i. Re.” Donne In Rete</em></a><em> </em>(a network of over 70 anti-violence centres in Italy) and <a href="http://www.udinazionale.org/"><em>UDI</em>-<em>Unione Donne in Italia</em></a> (an historical association). The march was joined by 150 national networks, many women’s refuges and anti-violence centres.</p> <p>“We don’t want to lose any other woman because of the violence of a man or the conscientious objection or any other form of violence,” Tatiana Montella, from the network <em>Io Decido</em>, <a href="http://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/speciali/2016/11/23/stop-a-violenza-su-donne-2611-manifestazione-a-roma_cc7dccc4-6766-4fba-baba-30165f4f8839.html">said</a> the day before the demonstration. “In Italy”, she added, “a feminist movement is rising. It starts from the bottom and wants to bring out the women’s voice. This will happen on Saturday without party flags, institutions or unions.”</p> <p>More than 100,000 women, families, people of every age and from all over Italy marched through the streets of Rome, claiming to stop gender-based violence, carrying pictures of victims of femicide, placards in fuchsia and black and yelling out loud “Non Una Di Meno”, “Not [a woman] less.”</p> <p>The massive demonstration of 26 November 2016 protested also against the funding cuts by the government for women’s refuges around the country, the conscientious objection by gynecologists and the non-implementation of the law on abortion, the discrimination in the workplace, the lack of welfare and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claudia-torrisi/italian-media-violence-against-women">the bad coverage</a> of gender-based violence by the media that blame the victims. </p> <p>“This demonstration was the unexpected event of the autumn, a real dislocation of the dominant political narrative. It changed the meaning of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the day before: from being an empty institutional day, used by politicians to sanctify the victimisation and impotence of women, to a day that opened a new political space, empowering women and all other groups that are fighting against violence and all other forms of discriminations,” the activists <a href="http://www.dinamopress.it/multilanguages/towards-a-global-womens-strike-a-perspective-from-non-una-di-meno">said</a>. </p> <p>Despite the great participation, mainstream newspapers and TV channels almost ignored Non Una Di Meno’s protest. But that was just the beginning of the rise of the movement.</p> <p>The march was in fact the first stage of a longer journey. On 27 November, a national meeting of Non Una Di Meno took place in Rome to discuss the writing of a national feminist anti-violence plan to replace the <a href="http://www.interno.gov.it/it/notizie/adottato-piano-dazione-straordinario-contro-violenza-sessuale-e-genere">Extraordinary Action Plan</a> against sexual and gender-based violence adopted by the Italian government in 2015. “Our plan is a programme for tackling violence in our society, it is a plan for actions and self-organisation, and a way of coming together, explore and enhance our differences,” the activists explained.</p> <p>During the assembly, the movement split out in eight thematic areas: legislative and legal aspects, work and welfare, education, migrant feminism, sexism in the movements, narration of violence in the media, right to sexual and reproductive health, routes to escape violence.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">They have taken back feminism without any cliché, renewing it from the inside</p> <p>“We think that male violence against women is a structural problem: it involves many facets of women’s lives, limiting their freedom. These areas reflect this vision,” Picchi says. “We have the authority and the competences to write our plan. Government and administrations keep talking about violence as an emergency, but it’s not: it happens everyday, everywhere.”</p> <p>Other national Non Una Di Meno’s meetings were held in Bologna in February and then in Rome again in April of this year. The next one will be in Pisa on 14 October. Meanwhile, local groups have started to meet in several Italian cities. </p> <p>“I am stunned by these girls. I have seen 40 years of feminism, but this generation is different. It has an unexpected potential,” Lea Melandri, a feminist involved in 1970s movements, <a href="http://www.iodonna.it/attualita/in-primo-piano/2017/03/02/l8-marzo-non-saremo-una-di-meno/">said</a> early this year. “Those girls are very young,” she added, “they study at university or high school, and in many cases they do not know much about the battles of historical feminism (…) They have taken back feminism without any cliché, renewing it from the inside, bringing the theme of equality in all the social spheres, from reproductive health to freedom of movement for migrants, from education to a new model of economy to free us from that form of patriarchy that is capitalism.”</p> <p>On 8 March 2017 – International Women’s Day – Non Una Di Meno joined a global women’s strike, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/notes/ni-una-menos/llamamiento-al-paro-internacional-de-mujeres-8-de-marzo-2017/588055324718987">announced</a> by Ni Una Menos in Argentina. The protests took place in 48 countries, with initiatives, demonstrations and the abstension of the women from any public or private activity. </p> <p>The strike was criticised by part of the Italian media, that <a href="http://www.ilmessaggero.it/primopiano/cronaca/la_protesta_globale_che_divide_cosi_lo_sciopero_rovina_la_festa-2304078.html">accused</a> the movement of “ruining the Women’s Day” (in Italy known as “Women’s festivity”). Nevertheless, in Rome 20,000 people marched from the Colloseum demanding rights and self-determination, while other initiatives were held in several Italian cities.</p> <p>The next demonstration will be on 25 November 2017. “We still have a lot to say. Italian politicians want women to stay home, they want to control us and our bodies, pretending that they do it for our safety. They blackmail us with fear. Meanwhile women are raped or killed everyday,” Picchi says. “We do not need cameras or survelliance, we need rights. We want to go out alone, even at night. As one of our slogans says: free streets are made by women who cross them.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 Right to Protest tag Claudia Torrisi Tue, 03 Oct 2017 08:00:01 +0000 Claudia Torrisi 113740 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Photo essay: women's protests around the world https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/photo-essay-womens-protests-around-world <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Anti-Trump women's marches put women's protest in the spotlight in 2017. Here are seven other recent women's demonstrations that didn't generate as much coverage (plus two historic UK ones that did).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This photo essay is part of&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;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.&nbsp;</em></p><h2>Poland 2016: women's protest against abortion laws</h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/A woman wears black at a Czarny Protest in Opole_ Poland_ 3 October 2016. Image_ Iga Lubczańska_Flickr.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/A woman wears black at a Czarny Protest in Opole_ Poland_ 3 October 2016. Image_ Iga Lubczańska_Flickr.jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Iga Lubczańska/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>A woman wears black at a ‘Czarny Protest’ (‘Black Protest’) to demonstrate against abortion laws in Opole, Poland. ‘No women, no kraj’ (‘No women, no country’ – 'kraj' is pronounced 'cry' in Polish) and ‘We are not your incubators’ were written on placards at the protest – one of several held across the country on 3 October 2016. The day became known as ‘Czarny Poniedziałek’ (‘Black Monday’), with thousands of women going on strike in opposition to the proposed legislation for a total ban on abortion. The protest was part of a larger campaign, in which people published selfies in black clothing on social media, using the tag #czarnyprotest. The protest was swiftly followed by a surge of similar demonstrations in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wroc%C5%82aw">Wrocław</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%81%C3%B3d%C5%BA">Łódź</a> and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krak%C3%B3w">Kraków</a> and other cities throughout Poland, attended by thousands. By <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/05/polish-government-performs-u-turn-on-total-abortion-ban">5 October</a>, the parliamentary committee was advising MPs to vote down the bill, which they proceeded to do the following day.</p><h3><strong>Egypt 2013: women demonstrating against the Muslim Brotherhood&nbsp;</strong></h3> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-16058638.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-16058638.jpeg" alt="Close-up image of women's face during a demonstration in Cairo demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood" title="" width="620" height="453" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Ahmed Ismail / AA / ABACAPRESS / PA images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p class="normal">This photo shows women protesting in Cairo on 15 March 2013 against the Muslim Brotherhood, who days before had spoken out against a UN document entitled ‘End Violence against Women’. The brotherhood, whose close allies headed Egypt’s parliament and presidency at the time, issued an <a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">online statement</a> on 14 March denouncing the UN declaration on the grounds that it opposed fundamental Islamic values and would lead to the ‘complete disintegration of society’. Among other factors, the statement criticised the document for proposing unconditional equal rights and sexual freedom for homosexual people and women, as well as allowing Muslim women to work and travel, marry non-Muslims, use contraception without their husband’s permission, and take their husbands to court for marital rape. An agreement was reached and announced in the UN headquarters late on <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/66955/World/Region/Muslim-states-agree-to-historic-UN-statement-on-wo.aspx">15 March</a> – the day of the protest – though with some dilution to demands for gay rights and references to sexual health.</p><h3><strong>Brazil 2017: women victims of violence protesting in São Paulo</strong></h3><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-32363619.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-32363619.jpeg" alt="A woman with her head inside a protest banner at a demonstration in São Paulo against cuts to victims of violence against women" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Cris Faga / NurPhoto / SIPA USA / PA Images</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">On 10 August 2017, Brazilian women took to the streets of São Paolo in response to Mayor João Doria’s announcement of the dismantling of policies aimed to combat gender-based violence, resulting in $3.5 million cuts to women’s services. This woman’s striking placard reads: ‘<em>Cidade linda, mulher morta</em>’ (‘Beautiful city, dead woman’), in reference to Doria’s ‘Cidade Linda’ (Beautiful City) project; the controversial urban ‘beautification’ scheme involved spending more than $1 million to mobilise workers to undertake a thorough sprucing of the urban environment – painting over graffiti, fixing lampposts and tidying up street corners. Other placards at the protest read ‘Prefeito machista’ (sexist, or <em>machista</em>,<em> </em>mayor).</p><h3>Cameroon 2013: March for a Life free of Violence against Women and Girls</h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/March for a Life Free of Violence Against Women and Girls in Cameroon_ 2015. Image_ The Centre for Human Rights and Peace in Cameroon. Some rights reserved (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/March for a Life Free of Violence Against Women and Girls in Cameroon_ 2015. Image_ The Centre for Human Rights and Peace in Cameroon. Some rights reserved (1).jpg" alt="Women on a protest in Cameroon holding banners saying 'Say no to violence against women'" title="" width="620" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Centre for Human Rights and Peace in Cameroon. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>This picture was taken by the Centre for Human Rights and Peace in Cameroon in 2013 at the March for a Life Free of Violence Against Women and Girls. A 2011 survey <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/generaldiscussion/memberstates/Cameroon.pdf">reported</a> that 55% of women in Cameroon – compared to 34% of women aged between 15 and 49 globally – have experienced physical violence, often at the hands of partners or other family members. 20% of women who had already had sexual intercourse did so for the first time unwillingly, with the number rising to 30% among those who had intercourse before the age of 15. 60% of women who have been married have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence from their most recent husband, with 43% having sustained injuries from this violence. Cameroon’s National Gender Policy Document, adopted in <a href="http://evaw-global-database.unwomen.org/en/countries/africa/cameroon">2014</a>, put the principles of human rights, democracy, social justice, and equality at the centre of its strategy, and in July 2016 a new penal code <a href="http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/cameroon/">criminalised</a> forced marriage.</p><h3>USA 2017: Women’s March, New York City, following Trump's inauguration</h3> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Women march through New York City the day after Trump’s inauguration_ 21 January 2017.. Image_ KarlaAnnCoté_Flickr..jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Women march through New York City the day after Trump’s inauguration_ 21 January 2017.. Image_ KarlaAnnCoté_Flickr..jpg" alt="" title="" width="620" height="386" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: KarlaAnnCoté/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">On 21 January 2017, swathes of women across the globe marched to show support for women’s rights following the inauguration of Donald Trump on 20 January. This photo focuses on a woman at the Women’s March in New York, one of an estimated 400,000 protesters who descended on Trump Tower to protest the incumbent president in his hometown. The crowd marched for a broad range of issues, promoting social justice, civil rights and equality, demanding a voice for women in politics, and expressing concern about Trump’s plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. ‘It’s time to fight, nasty girls unite’ and ‘Resist, resist, resist those tiny fists’ were some of the <a href="https://medium.com/@norikomanabe/chants-from-the-womens-march-nyc-january-21-2017-82536bfd9360">chants</a> heard.</p><h3><strong>Argentina 2015: Ni Una Menos movement to combat gender-based violence</strong></h3> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/TV Pública workers in Argentina protest violence against women_ 3 May 2015. Image_ Prensa TV Pública_Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ni Una Menos"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/TV Pública workers in Argentina protest violence against women_ 3 May 2015. Image_ Prensa TV Pública_Flickr. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="lead " title="Ni Una Menos" width="620" height="441" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Prensa TV Pública/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">Workers from Argentine television network TV Pública hold a placard that reads: ‘Objectification is violence’, at a protest organised by Ni Una Menos in May 2015. Ni Una Menos is an Argentine feminist movement that describes itself as ‘<em>un grito colectivo contra la violencia machista</em>’ (‘a collective cry in the face of <em>machista </em>violence’). The campaign, whose name literally means ‘Not one woman less’, rallies against gender-based violence, centring on opposition to femicide but also incorporating broader intersectional feminist issues, such as sexual harassment and objectification, gender roles and pay gap, and the rights of sex workers and transgender people. Initially spearheaded by female artists, journalists and academics in Argentina, the movement has since expanded through several Latin American and European countries.</p><h3>Brazil 2015: Black Women's March in Brasilia against violence and racism</h3><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Women at the Black Women’s March in Brasilia_ 18 November 2015. Image_ Sabriya Simon. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Women at the Black Women’s March in Brasilia_ 18 November 2015. Image_ Sabriya Simon. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="Women in colourful clothing at the Black Women’s March in Brasilia" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Sabriya Simon. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p class="normal">A woman at the Black Women’s March in the Brazilian capital on <a href="https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Black-Women-March-Against-Violence-in-Brazil-20151118-0049.html">18 November 2015</a>. More than 10,000 women flocked from around the country to march in protest against violence and racism, and to demand equality for all. Gathering outside the National Congress of Brazil, the crowd expressed their defiance in light of a recent surge of conservative bills aimed at diminishing the rights of women. These included the passing of a bill restricting rape victims’ access to support, information and the morning-after pill on 21 October, followed <a href="https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazil-Women-Protest-Against-Bill-Limiting-Access-to-Contraception-20151029-0025.html">a week later</a> by lawmakers proposing that hospitals should notify the police each time a woman is examined because of issues related to abortion. Also central to the protest’s focus was the broader societal discrimination faced by black women in Brazil, who at the time were victims of increased incidences of <a href="https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazil-Sharp-Increase-in-Murders-of-Black-Women--20151111-0032.htmlhttps://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazil-Sharp-Increase-in-Murders-of-Black-Women--20151111-0032.html">violence and murder</a>, while violence against lighter-skinned women declined.</p><h3>Mexico 2017: women demanding answers about the disappearance of their children in Iguala in 2014</h3><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/mexico protest smaller.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/mexico protest smaller.jpg" alt="Women with photos of their children who disappeared in 2014 (Ayotzinapa)" title="" width="620" height="414" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">Women protesting in Mexico on 30 August 2017 – International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The demonstration remembers the mass disappearance and calls for the return of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, who were attacked in the historic city of Iguala on the night of 26 September 2014. Official reports indicate the involvement of the town’s mayor and his wife in the disappearance, while <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/forensic-architecture-manuella-libardi/ayotzinapa-platform-what-happened-to-43-dis">others</a> implicate federal forces and the Mexican Army. Three years after the event, so little is known about what happened or the whereabouts of the students that Forensic Architecture have built an <a href="http://www.plataforma-ayotzinapa.org/">online interactive platform</a> to attempt to make sense of the case. Placards read ‘Alive they were taken, alive we love them,’ and featured photos of the disappeared and information about what they were wearing when last seen.&nbsp;</p><h3>UK 1982: women-led peace protests at Greenham Common, Berkshire</h3><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-1058914.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-1058914.jpg" alt="Black and white image of women surrounding RAF Greenham Common air base in a protest in 1982" title="" width="620" height="416" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: PA/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">From 1981 to 1991, RAF Greenham Common was the site of a series of women-led peace protests. A protest camp was set up at the US base following the government’s decision to allow US forces to install cruise missiles there. The protest known as ‘Embrace the Base’, when 30,000 women linked hands around the base on 12 December 1982, was one of the most significant of the movement. Another was the formation of a human chain of 70,000 protesters between Greenham and Aldermaston in 1983. The movement is believed to have had a notable impact both within the UK and internationally, forcing a public conversation not only about nuclear weapons but also regarding the appropriation of historically common grounds for military purposes. The last American Cruise missiles were removed in 1991.</p><h3>UK 1909: women's suffrage protest movement</h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Christabel Pankhurst in Manchester_ UK_ 19 January 1909. Image_ Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/blog_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Christabel Pankhurst in Manchester_ UK_ 19 January 1909. Image_ Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="Sepia photo of Christabel Pankhurst in Manchester 1909 campaigning for women's suffrage" title="" width="620" height="449" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-blog_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>This photo shows Christabel Pankhurst being welcomed to the Free Trade Hall on Peter Street in Manchester on 19 January 1909. Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst was a leading member of the women’s suffrage movement. Co-founding the Women’s Social and Political Union with Emmeline, the sisters directed a campaign that included mass rallies and hunger strikes. This photo would have been taken shortly after her release from Holloway Prison. ‘We have waited too long for political justice; we refuse to wait any longer,’ Pankhurst said at a speech at the time. ‘We are resolved that 1909 must and shall be the political enfranchisement of British women.’ In 1918, the Representation of the People Act allowed female property owners over 30 to vote, but it was not until the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women in the UK finally achieved the same voting rights as men.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 Right to Protest tag Ella Milburn Mon, 02 Oct 2017 17:19:42 +0000 Ella Milburn 113701 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Protest in the Black Lives Matter movement: an interview with activist and lawyer Justin Hansford https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/black-lives-matter-protests <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We discuss how BLM protests have brought forth a cultural shift, highlighted by the recent dissent of NFL star Colin Kaepernick, and how protest dynamics have changed in the Trump era.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-32894889 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-32894889 (1).jpg" alt="Protester holds up a Black Lives Matter sign at a protest in St Louis in September 2017" title="" width="1280" height="853" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in St Louis on 18 September 2017, at the acquittal of ex-police officer Jason Stockley. Image: Dane Iwata / Xinhua News Agency / PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>INTERVIEW: ANNA NORMAN</p><h3><strong>Anna Norman (AN): Can you reflect on the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, and explain why the death of Michael Brown in August 2014 was a tipping point in US race relations ?</strong></h3> <p>Justin Hansford (JH): Some people say that the start of the movement was the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, but in my view this was not the turning point. Before Trayvon Martin there were other young black people who had been killed by the police, or by people like George Zimmerman who were acting as if they were the police, and who had gotten off scot-free. So the killing of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent protests weren’t really anything out of the ordinary. What was different about the killing of Mike Brown was that this time people had had enough. The protests were organic, and they came out of frustration and anger.</p> <p>I had been living in St. Louis for about three years at that time, about ten minutes from the city of Ferguson. And after Mike Brown was killed I saw his image on my Facebook timeline, laid out on the street, with police standing over him like they’ve just killed an animal; his body was lying there for over four hours. And people came out not because the NACCP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] told them to, or because a non-profit organisation told them to; they came out of genuine distress. They saw the body, and the situation harked back to lynchings, to the tradition of hanging black people from trees. It was symbolic. His body was laid out for display, and that was meant to intimidate and to show the community that this could be you next if you are in any way unsubmissive to our state violence and intimidation. And that outraged people. People came out in their thousands, by word of mouth, because they decided on their own that enough was enough.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It was not fundamental for us to be completely non-violent in our response to police violence</p> <p>It was led by young people, who weren’t chanting ‘We shall overcome’, but were chanting ‘Fuck the police’ and ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’. We were very confrontational. The local gas station was lit on fire and some things were damaged, but I don’t consider property damage violence. Those were ways for people to vent their frustration. It was not a non-violent protest but it was an anti-violent protest, that’s the distinction. It was not fundamental for us to be completely non-violent in our response to police violence.</p> <p>[The protesting] went on for a few weeks, but the state used a number of techniques to ensure that it died out after that. People are familiar with the tools of war that were used against us, like tear gas and rubber bullets, and the brutality of some people being beaten and arrested. They created a law: the police said that people had to keep moving while they were protesting. They couldn’t stand still and shout ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’, they had to continue walking the entire time, and if they ever stood still they would be arrested for standing still.</p> <p>This was later ruled unconstitutional by the federal district court – the ACLU brought that litigation in October 2014, after the technique had already been effective by using up people’s energy and forcing people through fatigue to stop protesting. So, it was an effective technique that was used, amongst other techniques, that was illegal but that was effective in helping to end that initial uprising.</p> <p>But in spite of that there were people who had a great deal of determination and they continued to protest for months on end; they became leaders, so to speak, because of their endurance.</p> <h3><strong>AN: Was having a black president in power at the time an important factor for why the movement started when it did?</strong></h3> <p>JH: This will always be debated, but in my view, a number of factors came together.</p> <p>Let’s start with the local situation. You had to have lived in this particular neighbourhood to understand what was happening at the time. St. Louis is a predominantly black city with a predominantly white power structure, and it’s almost always been like that. Even during the Civil Rights Movement, St. Louis was seen as a place that… it was the south but it was so far north that it didn’t get as much attention from civil rights activists. So they continued to stay oppressed. So you had pent up anger and aggression there that was waiting to erupt. And Trayvon Martin had been killed a couple of years before, which had a huge impact on the sensibilities of the people. So that local dynamic came into play with the image of Mike Brown’s dead body. And the fact that it lay there for so long meant that people got a chance to see it themselves and to become outraged. There was a particular injury to our psychology to see his body like that. So these are three factors: the local dynamic, the killing of Trayvon Martin, the display of Mike Brown’s body.</p> <p>The fact that we did have a black president also I think encouraged people to think, ‘Well, if we speak out, there’s somebody there who will actually listen this time.’ So that’s a fourth factor: that someone may actually listen if we speak out.</p> <p>And then, of course, there’s social media. The news reports initially tried to downplay the incident. But because of the reach of Twitter, in particular, people were able to go there themselves to Tweet firsthand accounts that in some instances had further reach than the news. So the corporate media’s attempt to sway the situation to the benefit of the police and to promote the status quo and hurry up to the next story, that was interrupted by social media. That is something we didn’t have access to before.</p> <p>So those are five factors. Put them together and you have a perfect recipe for an uprising.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">In order to do anything that interrupts the status quo you are almost forced to be disruptive</p> <h3><strong>AN: Turning the attention to the act of protest itself – what is its particular relevance for the Black Lives Matter movement?</strong></h3> <p>JH: In the United States in particular we have a big problem. If we bring petitions and complaints before our authorities, oftentimes they don’t listen. They ignore us. Also, when we follow the rules, even during protests, if we get a permit and march in a circle, people may look and smile and go on about their day. And so you have a dilemma. In order to do anything that interrupts the status quo you are almost forced to be disruptive, and in a more specific way you’re forced to break the law. It’s called the lawful protesters dilemma – if you follow the law during your protest, and you do it in a nice peaceful, agreeable way, nobody cares.</p> <p>I went to the UN, followed all the rules, brought a petition before the United Nations. I spoke before the US Civil Rights Commission. I spoke before President Obama’s taskforce on policing. We brought lawsuits. But the thing that shifted the culture was the protests in the streets when people were breaking the law. People got arrested, and to be honest, people protest all the time in the United States, but the cameras came once people set the QuikTrip [gas station] on fire.</p> <p>When I was trying to help legally represent people, I spoke to people who were involved, damaging some of this property. And those people were deliberate and intentional in the sense that they knew that in order to get people to actually pay attention they couldn’t just follow the rules and put in a petition and write a letter to their congressman. They knew that to get the cameras to turn to a small town like Ferguson, something had to go up in flames. And so these people were going to take the risk and do so, and some of them are in jail because they sacrificed in order to do so.</p> <p>A common strategy of people who want to uphold the status quo was to say that protesters are random, that they were successful by happenstance, it was a coincidence – but that’s false: all of this was based on a strategy. This is a little bit of an aside, but think about Rosa Parks. She sparked the Civil Rights Movement by not getting up when they told her to get to the back of the bus. Oftentimes that’s framed like it was an old lady who just didn’t feel like getting up from her seat one day. But that’s false. This was someone who was a longtime organiser for the NAACP, someone who had gone to a training the year before on how to do sit-ins. Someone who had learned how people had decided not to get up from their seats on buses in other parts of the country. And so she was mimicking a strategy, she was following a plan and she was trained to do it in a deliberate way. But the way that they try to retell the history is to make it seem random and lucky. That was not the case with Rosa Parks and it was not the case in Ferguson. In both cases you had people following a deliberate strategy to disrupt the status quo, and it was effective.</p> <h3><strong>AN: Can you tell me more about the interactions with police during the Mike Brown protests. What was your experience of these interactions, both from a legal and personal perspective?</strong></h3> <p>JH: The interactions left many of us with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD – some of us have been clinically diagnosed with that. It wasn’t just the fact that people are shooting things at you and you don’t know what it is, people are calling you racial slurs, you’re seeing friends get violently attacked. In the moment you don’t know what’s tear gas and what’s an actual bullet. And of course there were other people there in addition to the police who had live ammunition. There were white supremacists there, who had come out to antagonise us. These are things that I’ve continued to have nightmares about.</p> <p>I went to jail after being arrested [during the protests]. It was an interesting experience being a lawyer and being in jail, arrested for protesting. Some of the other inmates were able to get free legal advice from me so I was pretty popular in there!</p> <p>One thing that’s interesting from a legal standpoint is that, we had a situation in Charlotteville, Virginia, recently, which you probably were aware of, where literal Nazis were protesting with semi-automatic weapons. And the police came and stood there and watched them. Nobody shot tear gas at them, nobody shot rubber bullets at them, and nobody called them slurs. No police unions went and spoke out against them. In St. Louis, the police union lead wore a wristband to a city council meeting saying ‘I support Darren Wilson’, the policeman who shot Mike Brown. Police union chiefs around the country have talked about how much they dislike us. They don’t talk about how much they dislike Nazis.</p> <p>It speaks of the character of law enforcement organisations in this country. We know about mass incarceration and we know that we have more black people in jail now than were in slavery during enslavement. And we’ve learned recently that many of them are there for things like traffic violations, like we saw in the Ferguson Report. It’s completely racialised. The law enforcement community in this country is one of the few places where you can explicitly use race to discriminate. You can racially profile and it’s not illegal. They called us racial slurs and they weren’t fired. The police union is too strong. The culture supports it and they can’t be held accountable.</p> <h3><strong>What has Black Lives Matter achieved so far, in spite of the lack of structural change?</strong></h3> <p>The biggest success is the way we’ve changed the culture. Whether it’s sports, with our NFL football player Colin Kaepernick protesting, or Beyonce speaking out, or new books, we’ve had a cultural renaissance that I attribute to those protests. If you look at some of the TV shows and movies that have been made, there’s so much that has shifted in our culture around that conversation. That’s our victory.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">My hope is that the change in the law will follow the change in the culture&nbsp;</p> <p>We haven’t had any victories from a legal perspective. Recently, in St. Louis, there was an officer named Jason Stockley, who was also allowed to go scot-free after the killing of a black person, even after literally saying ‘I’m gonna kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.’ And so people are protesting right now about that. There’s a list of these. Freddie Gray. None of the police officers were convicted in the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Or in the Tamir Rice case in Cleveland. Or Trayvon Martin, of course. If you look at the list of cases you see an innocent after innocent after innocent verdict.</p> <p>But my hope is that the change in the law will follow the change in the culture. So, we saw that happening with same-sex marriage where culturally same-sex relationships became acceptable and then belatedly the law caught up. So the only hope we can cling to is that subsequently the law will catch up and try to undo this particular problem of the failure to secure police accountability.</p> <p>I don’t think that’s the end of it because what has happened with the movement is that it started small and expanded, as it should. It started off with a simple goal – a conviction in the Mike Brown case. Then people realised that there’s a problem in the entire region of St. Louis. Then people realised that this is a national problem; with the Eric Garner and Tamir Rice protests, people started to connect the dots nationally. Then we started to think internationally. I went to the United Nations with Mike Brown’s family. And people are looking to connect with us in South Africa, in Gaza, in Brazil, all around the world. And so it’s a global human rights problem now. So, as our goals grow and enlarge, we have a different measurement. Even if we were to end mass incarceration and overturn racial injustice in the United States you could argue that we still wouldn’t be able to say ‘OK, that’s it, we’re done’. Because now we are tackling the problem of global racial hierarchy, global white supremacy. So we have a long way to go before we can say we’re a success but I think that what we have been able to do is shift the culture with the hope that maybe, somewhere down the line, we can shift the system of justice as well.</p> <p>And my hope is that, with this organisation that I’m creating out of Howard University, we’ll find ways to launch a legal aspect of the movement that will help move things forward. Like other human rights activists have said in the past – Malcolm X, for example – for black Americans it’s important not to be pigeon-holed in a civil rights framework but to make sure we see the issue as a human rights issue. So that is my goal.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/BLM protest PA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Kaepernick Protest at NFL Eagles, Philadelphia"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/BLM protest PA.jpg" alt="" title="Kaepernick Protest at NFL Eagles, Philadelphia" width="4000" height="2657" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters follow NFL player Colin Kaepernick by kneeling in support of BLM, Sept 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h3><strong>AN: How is the movement evolving in the Trump era? Have new protest dynamics come into play?</strong></h3> <p>JH: The Trump era is interesting because I think some people made the mistake of buying into the narrative of progress. They thought, ‘Well, we’ve had a black president and now it’s just going to keep getting better and better.’ But if you look at history, things have always happened in cycles. We had abolition, we ended enslavement, we had some black elected officials and Congresspeople. We felt like we were making big strides, then they founded the Ku Klux Klan one year later, in 1866, and they had created Jim Crow by the end of the 1800s. So it was a step backwards. Then you had Martin Luther King, you had the Civil Rights Act, the March on Washington, and everything’s great for a little while. And then by the 70s you have mass incarceration. Nixon. Reagan. The war on drugs. Right now some people feel like it is even worse than it was during the Civil Rights Movement for people caught in that trap.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Our goal was never just black people as individuals, it was to fight against the racial hierarchy itself</p><p>So it makes sense that, after having the first black president, you then have an anti-black president. You have Trump, and he’s seeking to promote policies that are the antithesis of what you thought this progress would lead you to. So I think people are trying to get their minds around that and trying to adapt. It’s a very confusing time because it’s almost something different every week: an attorney general trying to reinstitute the war on drugs, Charlottesville, the Muslim ban, and all these things are related to Black Lives Matter because our goal was never just black people as individuals, it was to fight against the racial hierarchy itself. And Black people are just the quintessential example of that. But aggressions against Asians, Latinos, Muslims, Native Americans… any other ethnic background that’s not white, they all face aggression. So we have to be able to build solidarity and coalition.</p> <p>Coming back to the question of violent or non-violent protest… I’m living in a society where Dylann Roof walked into a church and shot up people’s grandmothers. We saw a person get run over by a car in the Charlottesville protests. What people have been asking of us is to only allow the violence to accrue on one side. When they say, ‘You be non-violent’, they are saying ‘We, the police or the white supremacists or others, we will take care of all the violence for you. We’ll commit that violence against <em>you</em>. And your moral superiority will be based on your ability to be non-confrontational and non-violent when you respond.’ I reject that. We’re already living in an era of violence. I’m acclimated to the stance of people like Dr King and Ghandhi, who were not of the position that you can just stand by the wayside when people are being violent towards you. These were people who would not be involved in killing anyone or harming anyone. But they had to admit that violence is going on and, even if they weren’t going to perpetrate it, they were going to have to withstand some violence to justify their involvement in the movement.</p> <p>They’re killing our children, they’re putting people in cages for many years of their lives for traffic violations or based on this war on drugs. So don’t condemn us when a window is broken, that’s ridiculous. The mistake is to allow people to intimidate you into adhering to ridiculous beliefs under the fear that you’ll be painted as bad if you don’t.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">In this era it’s foolish to think that human rights or civil rights can be achieved by mobilising shame as the primary strategy</p><p>For us it’s very sensitive politically. Our elders have been into something called ‘respectability politics’, this idea that you gain the moral high ground by wearing a suit and tie, by being non-violent, by singing church songs, and that allows you to be persuasive to those who have power over you. Many of us in the movement today say that that is just one strategy of many. That strategy was effective at that particular time and place, the 1960s in the United States, but in 2017 where we have a president who talks about grabbing women in private places, respectability is not moving people like it used to. It’s not a persuasive tool any more. Trump is arguing that you should never be ashamed of anything. So I think in this era it’s foolish to think that human rights or civil rights can be achieved by mobilising shame as the primary strategy. Those tools are over, because that has been the whole point [of those in power], to eliminate the effectiveness of those tools. So we have to continue to experiment with other solutions.</p> <h3><strong>AN: Can you sum up why protest is vital for any democracy?</strong></h3> <p>JH: The question is, are we going to live in a country that’s like <em>1984</em>, a totalitarian country, or will people have the right to freedom of thought, freedom to dissent? There’s a long line of dissenters who have moved society forward even when the majority of people in their environment thought they were wrong, or oppressed them. A fundamental bedrock of this society was established because of black peoples’ dissent during the Civil War era. And the Civil Rights Movement, which Martin Luther King and others were protesting for in the 1960s, created the right to equality, which also opened up opportunities for others.</p> <p>The mistake to make is to feel like this one group is trying to speak out and protest, and the benefit will only accrue to this one group if they’re successful. ‘That’s their issue, that’s their business.’ That’s wrong. If you’re in any situation where you’re not dominant, where you’re not in power, then you better speak up for the little guy, because one day that will be you.&nbsp;<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/protest/multiple-meanings-global-protest">What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/protest/where-is-santiago-maldonado">&quot;Where is Santiago Maldonado?&quot;: protesters demand answers*</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag AN OPEN DEMOCRACY INTERVIEW Mon, 02 Oct 2017 15:54:41 +0000 AN OPEN DEMOCRACY INTERVIEW 113666 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Less-lethal" weapons in Jerusalem: "The purpose of these bullets isn’t corresponding to the reality" https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/non-lethal-weapons-jerusalem <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israeli photojournalist Tali Mayer, 28, was shot by a black-tipped sponge bullet while reporting on a demonstration. This led to her project with the ACRI, a member of INCLO, photographing Palestinians injured by these crowd-control bullets.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_03 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_03 (1).jpg" alt="Palestinian teenager who lost an eye from a sponge-tipped bullet" title="" width="2000" height="2000" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Zakariya Julani, 14, from Shuafat refugee camp, was hit by a black sponge-tipped bullet while standing near his house as Israeli police forces were monitoring workers renovating the separation wall. He lost his left eye. Image: Tali Mayer. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This interview is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>INTERVIEW: ANNA NORMAN</p><h3><strong>Can you start by giving me some background to the project and how it came about?</strong></h3><p>In the summer of 2014 there was a specific event that a lot of people in Jerusalem and outside still see as decisive. It was following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and then a revenge murder where Israeli teenagers killed a youth from Shuafat, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood, on the night of 1 July 2014. I was covering the funerals [of the Israelis] earlier that day, and later on that afternoon attempted lynchings were taking place in central Jerusalem in the aftermath; groups of people were trying to follow and find Palestinian workers in the centre of Jerusalem. The morning after we heard the news about Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who had been kidnapped and killed. Even at that point I realised that this was going to be an event that would change day-to-day reality in Jerusalem. </p><p>Shortly after I went to cover a protest by people from the neighbourhood on the murder. There were many journalists there, standing quite far from the events, and on the other side there were the cops. And at some point bullets were shot towards us. I was shot in the right side of the face. A photographer standing next to me got shot in the shoulder and another one was in the neck. I had two breaks in the jaw and had to take a few months off to recover, so then I saw the war like every other citizen, on the sofa, on the TV and not as a journalist. But I started to research the bullets that were used against me.</p><p>A month and a half after I was shot, a teenager called Mohammed Sunuqrut, from Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem, was shot in the head by a police officer [with a black-tipped sponge bullet] and killed. And there have been many reports since then of people being shot in the head with these bullets, which is against the official police regulations on how to use this bullet. I decided that people should be informed and able to reflect about these events, so I met with the <a href="http://www.acri.org.il/en/">Association for Civil Rights in Israel [ACRI]</a>. They were very interested in a project that would also reflect their own work to change policy regarding use of these bullets.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_01 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_01 (1).jpg" alt="A palestinian teenager who lost his left eye from a sponge-tipped bullet" title="" width="2000" height="2000" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yihia Al-Amudi, 14, from Shuafat refugee camp, attends a school near a checkpoint that's a hotspot for clashes between police and Palestinian youths. He was hit by a black sponge-tipped bullet when standing on the corner of the camp’s main street. He lost his left eye. Image: Tali Mayer. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><h3><strong>When did Israeli security forces start using these ‘nonlethal’ bullets? Was this around the same time that these events were unfolding?</strong></h3><p>Yes, it’s important to mention that the summer of 2014 was also the time when Israeli police started using these bullets [model 4557, aka the black-tipped sponge bullet]. Before then, blue sponge bullets, that were half the weight and actually made of sponge, were in use. But police officers complained that they were not useful enough. Actually, it’s also important to show this point of view; police officers were claiming that protesters were catching these blue bullets and just throwing them back. So then they changed them to the black ones, which look the same but the main material is not sponge but rubber, and they are much heavier. They are still referred to as sponge bullets but they only have sponge tips. It’s since this change that we’ve started to see much more serious injuries.</p><h3><strong>Can you tell me more about the injuries you’ve witnessed among the people you photographed?</strong></h3><p>The severity of the injury depends on what part of the upper body is shot and on how far away the person who shot you was. We saw lots of different cases, some more minor, including a 13-year-old girl who was shot in the neck but was okay, but also many cases of people losing their eyes – not just the eyesight, but completely losing the whole eye. There was one 11-year-old child from Isawiyah [a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem] who was shot in a specific place in the head that caused him to lose one eye immediately, and then later on the sight in his other eye, so he went completely blind. Most of the people who I photographed lost at least one of their eyes.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_02 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_02 (1).jpg" alt="Portrait of a Palestinian teenager who was left with brain damage from a sponge-tipped bullet" title="" width="2000" height="2000" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ahmad Abu-Hummus, 14, from the neighbourhood of Isawiya, was shot in the head by a black sponge-tipped bullet near his house. He suffered many fractures to his skull and has been left with severe brain damage. Image: Tali Mayer. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><h3><strong>Why did you decide to focus on people who weren’t involved in demonstrations at the time they were shot?</strong></h3><p>The project focused on 16 people who lost their eyes from these bullets and who were not part of a demonstration when they were shot. But that also means that we’re automatically talking about dozens of other people, protesters, who are being shot and losing their eyes or being brain damaged.</p><p>We wanted to make a wide statement in Israel and Palestine about these bullets. First of all, these bullets are used at the moment only in Jerusalem and in the West Bank – by police in Jerusalem and by the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] in the West Bank. The context is important because East Jerusalem is a forced occupied territory and it’s therefore not by mistake that these bullets are used there. They are defined as non-lethal weapons to disperse crowds. </p><p>But most of the demonstrations in East Jerusalem are not demonstrations that we are used to seeing in other places; there is a specific relationship in these neighbourhoods between protesters and the police. So in this context these bullets are used more to suppress events than to disperse crowds; it’s not by mistake that stronger ammunition is being used there. We wanted the public to be aware that people who live in these neighbourhoods, who are not taking part in a demonstration, are being shot in the head, to start people thinking about it.</p><p>Also, people who are injured during demonstrations in Jerusalem are straight away evacuated to the Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem, or Ramallah, because if they were to be evacuated to the Israeli hospitals they would be arrested straight after or even during their medical treatment. Therefore it is much harder for us to be on top of the data in the increase in injuries among protesters. But I can only assume that, with the levels of clashes that we see, there must be an increase in protesters being injured too.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_05 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_05 (1).jpg" alt="Portrait of a 33-year-old Palestinian man left completely blind from a sponge-tipped bullet" title="" width="2000" height="2000" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Taysir Sanduka, 33, was shot by a black sponge-tipped bullet when returning from work on the day of the funeral of Mohammed Abu khdeir, in Shuafat. He was hit in his left eye after becoming caught between the funeral procession and Israeli police. Already blind in his right eye since childhood, he is now completely blind. Image: Tali Mayer. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><h3><strong>What are the state regulations regarding use of these weapons by police and security forces?</strong></h3><p>We don’t know if new regulations were brought in when they started to use the stronger bullets, or if they continued to use the same ones, though the ACRI does have evidence to suspect that they didn’t change the regulations. And anyway the regulations even for the less strong blue sponge bullets stated that you are not allowed to shoot the upper part of the body – so from the stomach and up. And the bullets also cannot be officially used against elderly people, children or pregnant women. </p><p>However, the youngest boy we photographed was five years old when he was shot. He lost his eyesight. And there was a woman who was 66 years old who was shot in the head while standing on the balcony of her own house. And of course all the others were shot in the head, so we see a strong dissonance between regulations and what is actually happening in reality. And there hasn't yet been a proper response from officials on this.</p><h3><strong>So are there no cases of police or security officers being investigated or brought to trial?</strong></h3><p>There haven’t been any cases, no, for the people I photographed, or any others. And the only one where there was an investigation that took place was Mohammed Sunuqrut, who was killed, and the police officer who testified claimed that he shot him in the leg and that afterwards he fell to the floor and hit his head on the sidewalk, and that he died from that. But the medical investigation showed that he was in fact shot in the head, yet even in this case the officer was not put on trial, the investigation was closed.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_07 (1)_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_07 (1)_0.jpg" alt="Portrait of a Palestinian boy who was shot by a sponge-tipped bullet when he was five years old" title="" width="2000" height="2000" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Muhammad Abid was five-and-a-half when he was shot by a black sponge-tipped bullet. He was walking home from school in the neighbourhood of Isawiya. ‘There were no clashes that day, it was a routine patrol. Only one bullet was shot and this bullet hit him’, his father stated. Image: Tali Mayer. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><h3><strong>How has the project been received?</strong></h3><p>It’s only been shown in Israel so far, because our aim was to influence public opinion here first of all. It was first shown a year ago in an article in&nbsp;<em>Haaretz&nbsp;</em>weekend magazine that I wrote. Another important thing to mention is that we didn’t want to say that any of these injuries happened on purpose, or that somebody actually aimed at the faces of the people. The point we wanted to make is that ‘non-involved’ people are being seriously injured in spite of regulations. This was the thing we wanted to show. </p><p>After the project was featured in&nbsp;<em>Haartez</em>&nbsp;it then went on to win ‘Series of the Year’ in the Local Testimony exhibition, which is a photojournalism exhibition held alongside the World Press Photo exhibition in Israel. It’s unusual for a work about wounded Palestinians to get such strong attention in Israel, and this has been one of its achievements. </p><p>But I think the article was even more important because we managed to bring the stories of these events into the public arena. Most of the media in Israel is very conservative. The biggest newspaper,&nbsp;<em>Israel Hayom</em>&nbsp;[<em>Israel Today</em>], has a very strong relationship with our government, with Netanyahu, and is funded by Sheldon Adelson, a multimillionaire republican in the United States. So this phenomenon had not been introduced to the public before, and when people saw that the project is about people who were not involved in demonstrations it was hard for them to comprehend it.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_08 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Mayer_Tali_08 (1).jpg" alt="Portrait of a Palestinian man who lost his left eye and was left with fractures to his face from a sponge-tipped bulllet" title="" width="2000" height="2000" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Luai Abed, 38, from the neighbourhood of Isawiya, was shot in the head by a black sponge-tipped bullet on his balcony, after he heard noise from the street. The bullet caused fractures to his face and he lost his left eye. Image: Tali Mayer. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><h3><strong>You’ve said that you are working on a second part to the project. Will this have the same focus?</strong></h3><p>Even though the project made some achievements in terms of consciousness in Israel, we never got any meaningful response from policymakers. And the injuries are continuing; every once in a while we hear about another teenager shot in the head who has lost an eye or has another serious injury. But we have a reason to be optimistic about policy change because around ten years ago there were other kinds of ‘nonlethal’ bullets in use that were made of steel and much smaller, but which caused many serious injuries. And a campaign to end their use was successful and the blue bullets replaced them.</p><p>The subtext of the police response seems to be that if they are shooting 40,000 of these bullets a year, and 40 people are being injured in the head, then this is okay, it’s a standard that they can live with and expect to have. But we want to emphasise that these 40 injured are people who are losing their eyes or being brain damaged and this is not in line with the concept of these bullets as non-lethal weapons to disperse crowds. So we want to continue to press the fact that the purpose of these bullets isn’t corresponding to the reality, that they are not being used as they are supposed to be used and that it might not even be possible to use them as they are meant to be used.</p><p>Also, it’s illegal to shoot at a 66 year old woman on the balcony of her house. But it’s also illegal for police to use these bullets against anyone at the upper part of the body, even if it’s a 17 year old Palestinian throwing stones at you. It’s still illegal according to the current regulations. So I think that while the first part of this project was aimed at the Israeli public, trying to use messages to reach out to as many of them as possible, I think that we will rethink the continuation of it and try to widen our messages about the use of these bullets.</p><p>It’s very important to understand that the neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem where we shot this project are neighbourhoods that have protests and confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli police on a daily basis, day and night. Demonstrations are usually by groups of teenagers, but hundreds of thousands of people live in these neighbourhoods and these people don’t disappear during these clashes. The clashes are part of daily life, so one of the wider implications of this project is to question the situation of the forced occupation as a whole, and ask whether these injuries are an inevitable consequence of the situation in East Jerusalem.</p><p><a href="http://www.talimayer.com/">www.talimayer.com</a></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jerusalem </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Jerusalem Israel Democracy and government politics of protest Palestine and the Israeli Occupation protest Crowd-control weapons Right to Protest tag An openDemocracy interview with Tali Mayer Mon, 02 Oct 2017 15:48:16 +0000 An openDemocracy interview with Tali Mayer 113508 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Where is Santiago Maldonado?": protesters demand answers* https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/where-is-santiago-maldonado <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-family: Helvetica;"><span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The young man disappeared during a violent crackdown on an indigenous community in Patagonia by Argentina's Gendarmerie, and federal authorities have so far hindered an effective investigation. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/centro-de-estudios-legales-y-sociales-cels/protesta-social-y-espionaje-estatal-intentan-que-la-gente">Español</a></strong></em></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/TitiNicola:Wikipedia Commons. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="March for Santiago Maldonado, 1 September 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/original_size/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/TitiNicola:Wikipedia Commons. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="" title="March for Santiago Maldonado, 1 September 2017" width="2048" height="1365" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>March for Santiago Maldonado on 1 September 2017 in Santa Fe, Argentina. TitiNicola/Wikipedia Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article was published prior to the discovery of Santiago Maldonado’s body in the Chubut river. The body was found on 17 October 2017 during a court-ordered sweep of the area; three days later, after identification procedures had been carried out, his family confirmed that the body was Santiago Maldonado’s. The results of the autopsy have yet to be released.</em></em></p><p>Santiago Maldonado was last seen on 1 August 2017, trying to flee from Argentina’s Gendarmerie (border guards) in the territory of the “Pu Lof Cushamen” Mapuche community. The 28-year-old was there supporting the indigenous group’s demands that their ancestral lands be returned to them – including Patagonian tracts currently owned by Benetton.</p><p>This community, and its land claims, have been demonised by the Argentine government. Since&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/en/2017/01/pedido-al-ministerio-de-seguridad-por-la-represion-a-la-comunidad-mapuche/">late 2016</a>, the national Security Ministry has sought to present Mapuche groups as “terrorists” and enemies of the state to try to justify their harassment, persecution and repression. This approach fits into the US-led agenda regarding “new threats” to security and gives Argentine security forces with a long violent history a green light to use illegal and disproportionate force.</p><h3>Repression of Mapuche protest in Chubut province</h3><p>In Argentina today it is government policy to treat land conflicts and social protests as if they were security matters, engendering violent operations such as the one that took place on 1 August in Chubut province. That day, the Gendarmerie went to clear a highway roadblock set up by members and supporters of the Pu Lof Cushamen community. But things did not end there. The security force illegally entered their territory to violently pursue protesters, throwing rocks at them, shooting rubber bullets and burning families’ possessions.</p><p>It was in this context that Santiago Maldonado disappeared.</p><h3>"Dónde está Santiago Maldonado?"</h3><p>The question “¿Dónde está Santiago Maldonado?” (“Where is Santiago Maldonado?”) has galvanised local celebrities, swept social media and been echoed by tens of thousands of people in protests in Argentina and elsewhere in&nbsp;<a href="http://dondeestasantiagomaldonado.tumblr.com/">Latin America and Europe</a>. Last Sunday, which marked two months since his disappearance, Argentines took to the streets again to demand answers.</p><p>On 7 August, just six days after Santiago Maldonado disappeared, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances called on the Argentine state to take&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/en/2017/08/el-comite-contra-la-desaparicion-forzada-de-la-onu-exige-la-accion-urgente/">urgent measures</a>&nbsp;to locate him. Also, in light of the repeated episodes of repression suffered by members of the Pu Lof Cushamen community, the Committee urged the state to ensure they would not be “subject to acts of violence and harassment.” These demands were not fulfilled. Later, on 22 August, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2017/125.asp">precautionary measure</a>&nbsp;for the protection of Santiago’s rights.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">They also tried to further stigmatise the Mapuche community and discredit Santiago’s relatives</p><p>From day one, Santiago’s family and human rights groups urged authorities to search for him and investigate whether the Gendarmerie had anything to do with his disappearance. The judiciary dragged its feet on taking crucial, time-sensitive measures, and weeks went by before significant search efforts began. Meanwhile, Argentine government officials publicly ruled out participation by the Gendarmerie and floated flimsy alternative hypotheses about what might have happened. They also tried to further stigmatise the Mapuche community and discredit Santiago’s relatives and human rights organisations, such as CELS, which is party to the judicial investigations. Illegal spying on another group active in this case, the Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH), has also been denounced.</p> <p>After its alternative hypotheses collapsed under their own weight, the Security Ministry belatedly and only partially began turning over relevant information from its internal investigation, concluded weeks before. It became clear that the Gendarmerie’s operation was violent and riddled with irregularities –&nbsp;just as community members had denounced from the start.</p> <p>Two months have passed, and the Argentine state hasn’t yet found Santiago Maldonado. The investigation has made slow, tortuous progress due to institutional resistance to probing the Gendarmerie. Santiago is still missing, and his family – and Argentine society as a whole – need to know what happened.</p><p>______</p><p>*<em>This article was published prior to the discovery of Santiago Maldonado’s body in the Chubut river. The body was found on 17 October during a court-ordered sweep of the area; three days later, after identification procedures had been carried out, his family confirmed that the body was Santiago Maldonado’s. The results of the autopsy have yet to be released.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/protest/multiple-meanings-global-protest">What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/protest/black-lives-matter-protests">Protest in the Black Lives Matter movement: an interview with activist and lawyer Justin Hansford</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Mon, 02 Oct 2017 14:58:09 +0000 Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) 113698 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/multiple-meanings-global-protest <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What trends can we decipher when it comes to modern protests? Is there a pattern to the grievances that helps to explain the current spike in protest? And what do we find when we compare organisational dynamics?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Anti-corruption demonstration in Tunisia_Mohamed Krit:SIPA USA:PA Images.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Anti-corruption demonstration in Tunisia"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Anti-corruption demonstration in Tunisia_Mohamed Krit:SIPA USA:PA Images.jpg" alt="Protesters hold up anti-corruption banners in Tunisia in May 2017." title="Anti-corruption demonstration in Tunisia" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-corruption demonstration in Tunisia, May 2017. Image: Mohamed Krit/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>This week sees the launch of our partnership project with human rights organisations CELS and INCLO, with support from the ACLU. Called&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>,&nbsp;the project will be looking at the power of protest and why the right to protest is fundamental for human rights and democratic society</em><em><em>. W</em><span>e will be examining the day-to-day realities of protest around the world; the reasons behind the worldwide increase in protest; how states are responding – including a look at the use of crowd-control weapons; and what can be done to protect the right to protest.</span></em></p><p>Large-scale protests have become more numerous and geographically widespread in recent years. While much debate among international relations experts has focused on the shift in power away from the West to rising economies, equally significant in the nascent era of global politics is the rise of citizen mobilisation.</p> <p>Previous periods have, of course, witnessed bouts of protest. Today’s wave of protests is relatively unique, however, in effecting all regions of the world, with similar patterns of revolt spanning diverse national and cultural contexts. The ubiquity and frequency of large-scale mobilisations is sufficient to denote a structural shift in how citizens confront power and in how global civil society organises in pursuing its concerns.</p> <p>There is no single set of statistics that can be used to quantify the rise in protests – in part because what constitutes a ‘protest’ is defined in different ways. However, several surveys and databases show a sharp spike in protests in 2011-2012, followed by a lull, and then a renewed intensification of citizen revolts from 2015-2016 (ILO; Gdelt; Acled). In 2016, new protests rocked Armenia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Thailand, Yemen and Zimbabwe. In 2017, there have been notable protests in Argentina, Belarus, Ethiopia, Gambia, Hungary, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, Paraguay, Romania, Russia and Venezuela – to name but a few examples.</p> <h3>Issues, grievances and concerns</h3> <p class="NoteLevel11CxSpMiddle">It is possible to identify a number of overarching features of the current surge in global protest.</p> <p>A key characteristic is that today’s protests are driven by a diversity of issues, grievances and popular concerns. Some protests aim very directly to eject a government or regime from power – think of the on-going revolts in Venezuela that have been seeking a ‘recall referendum’ on President Nicolas Maduro’s continuation in office. Some revolts push for other types of less dramatic democratic reforms – like the protests in Iraq in 2016 that pressed for a fairer power-sharing democracy or those in Latin America seeking more extensive rights for indigenous minorities. Some focus more on cases of corruption – recent Brazilian and Indian protests being two of the best-known such examples. Many protests in the West have been primarily against austerity cuts – those in Greece and Spain being emblematic of this type of mobilisation. Others are less precise and more generically against capitalism and neoliberalism – like the various national versions of the Occupy movement. In contrast, some protests are responses to very specific, local grievances and have relatively modest aims – a growing number of protests in Russia fit into this category, for example.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Most mobilisations are made up of diverse elements, involving uneasy allies whose agendas and operational modes diverge significantly</p> <p>There remains a tendency for activists and analysts to see protests through the prism of their own particular set of concerns. For those working on or exercised by corruption, the current protest surge represents a global struggle against corruption. For democracy campaigners and experts, it is a new uprising in favour of democracy. For critics of capitalism and neo-liberalism, it is part of a growing anti-capitalist revolt. For environmentalists, it tends to be interpreted as an outgrowth of campaigning on natural resource exploitation and mining rights. Social justice activists emphasise the idea of protesters demanding greater social justice. The same protest ends up being portrayed in very different ways by different parts of the media or expert communities.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-31371883.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Protest in Kiev, Ukraine, against the banning of the VKontakte social media network, May 2017."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/PA-31371883.jpg" alt="Protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, against the banning of the VKontakte social media network, May 2017." title="Protest in Kiev, Ukraine, against the banning of the VKontakte social media network, May 2017." width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in Kiev, Ukraine, against the banning of the VKontakte social media network, May 2017. Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In fact, most protests combine a number of different features. Most mobilisations are made up of diverse elements, involving uneasy allies whose agendas and operational modes diverge significantly. Often, for example, progressive forces begin protests that are then joined by activists with illiberal or nationalist-nativist identities – the relationship between the new active citizenship and today’s much-discussed wave of populism is complex, often uneasy, yet significant. Recent activism in Ukraine – that has involved both progressive democrats and more rightist-nationalist groups – provides one particularly noteworthy example of such uneasy bedfellows combining in common revolt.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>Immediate triggers merge with longer-term grievances</strong></h3> <p>Overall, the current spike in protests contains some elements that are radical, some that are conservative, some that are moderately ‘liberal’ reformist, and some that are apparently more practical than overtly ideological. Describing today’s protests in terms of only one of these ways would be unduly simplistic and too analytically neat.&nbsp;</p> <p>Arguably the defining feature of modern protests is their eclecticism. Protests generally contain a mix of <em>system</em> related demands and <em>policy</em> specific grievances. They can be both very specific (pressing for reduced bus fares or against a new shopping centre) <em>and</em> expand into extremely generic grievances (‘The whole system must change!’ or ‘All politics is rotten!’). Different protests exhibit a different balance<strong> </strong>between the systemic and specific dimensions. Motives can also overlap – for example, anti-austerity protestors often also employ the language of democracy as a form of community-building and social justice.</p> <p>Nearly all protests are ignited by a proximate cause – a particularly emblematic corruption case, a mining company’s new project, a disaster that kills many people and can be traced back to government negligence. But invariably they also emerge out of background grievances that fester for years – a slow decline in political freedoms, poor economic performance. As a general rule, protests erupt in dramatic fashion when both an immediate trigger and longer-term frustrations are powerfully present and fuse together. Think of the way that protests in Turkey moved from their specific aim of stopping a redevelopment project in Istanbul’s central square to a wider set of rights and governance issues. Think also of the way that protests in Brazil initially focused on the specific issue of bus fares, then on high-level corruption cases, then on the country’s broader political situation – and in doing so involved grassroots community groups, leftist-radicals, rights-oriented NGOs and rightist-conservative movements. In the US, Black Lives Matter has responded to specific killings, and then also harnessed a wider set of grievances about black communities’ abrogated rights.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">One striking paradox is that many protests are driven both by those that have done well out of globalism and those that have suffered from it</p> <p>Protests are also increasingly path-dependent – that is, they evolve depending on their contrasting fortunes and on government responses. Many begin with relatively modest concerns but take on more ambitious and radical aims if and when their momentum grows and where regimes attempt to end a protest with violence. Egypt is an example of this trend: in 2011, protestors originally sought quite specific policy changes, but upped the ante after the Mubarak regime reacted in such brutal and intransigent fashion. The reasons for which many protests hit the headlines are often not those that first ignited them.</p> <p>One striking paradox is that many protests are driven both by those that have done well out of globalism and those that have suffered from it. These two camps rub shoulders in many a protest, often employing the same kind of language and adopting similar agendas, but coming from very different perspectives. One example of this was the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong. Protest in Mexico has been driven by marginalised communities hit hard by government hikes in fuel prices, but also by a rising middle class worried about spiraling levels of violence. The same group or class of people may be motivated by sharply contrasting concerns in different regions. In some protests citizens pour into the streets because their living standards are declining, in other states because they feel emboldened as their lot improves.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Marcha_Ciudadana_Contra_el_Gasolinazo_-_9_de_enero_de_2017_-_Ciudad_de_México_-_1 (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="March against the &#039;Gasolinazo&#039;, Mexico City, January 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Marcha_Ciudadana_Contra_el_Gasolinazo_-_9_de_enero_de_2017_-_Ciudad_de_México_-_1 (2).jpg" alt="Women in Mexico City with protest banners against the fuel price hikes" title="March against the &#039;Gasolinazo&#039;, Mexico City, January 2017" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>March against the rise in fuel prices ('gasolinazo'), Mexico City, January 2017. Image: ProtoplasmaKid / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>In this sense, patterns of protest reflect the well-documented trend of middle classes rising in developing states, but being squeezed in rich economies. Both sets of change are unleashing similarly contentious forms of activism, for diametrically opposed reasons. Moreover, if in rich Western states many recent protests have been about citizens retaining entitlements in the face of cuts in welfare spending, in developing states they revolve more around price rises making basic survival more arduous.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>The shift to community-level demonstrations</strong></h3> <p>If there is a general trend – beyond this eclecticism – it is probably away from globally linked protests at high-profile international summits and aimed at system-level issues of global justice. These kinds of protests certainly still occur, for example as seen at the Hamburg G20 summit in June 2017. But, the wider trend is towards community-level protests that mobilise for more tightly defined aims, specific to local context.&nbsp;</p> <p>This trend is in part a response to draconian repression by regimes against the new wave of highly political civic activism. As overtly anti-regime demonstrations are put down with increasing brutality in many countries, so activists are adjusting. Many are targeting more modest and achievable objectives relating to day-to-day service delivery and the like. On these issues, local communities continue to organise even where regimes have succeeded in suffocating the life out of explicitly political opposition protests. In these cases, the very fact that citizens continue to gather is seen as valuable in itself, keeping at least some identity of contestation alive in difficult circumstances. Examples of this trend can be found in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">While mass protest is a global trend, it is not globally orchestrated in organisational terms</p> <p>This nascent shift towards less politicised, local-level protest has analytical ramifications. A common criticism made against the new wave of protestors is that they fail to define their aims clearly and invariably descend into a visceral and unconstructive anti-politics. However, some of today’s most typical protests do exactly the opposite, focusing at least initially on very specific and tightly defined issues of relevance to a particular community – the closure of a school or hospital, the corrosive effect of local patronage networks, or very tangible environmental degradation.</p> <p>In sum, a range of substantive demands fuels today’s protests and this variation cautions against any single, uniform statement of what these revolts are ‘really about’. A key implication is that, while mass protest is a global trend, it is not globally orchestrated in organisational terms. While activists certainly reach out to each other across borders, mobilisations are increasingly local or nationally specific, rather than an integral part of global agendas for systemic, order-related change.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>New and old organisational dynamics</strong></h3> <p>There also appears to be more variation in the organisational patterns that lie behind these protests. Of course, the best-known observation is that the modern protest is organisationally minimalistic, even ‘leaderless’, heavily dependent on social media and wary of any alliance with ‘old’ forms of civic and political organisation. Indeed, most analytical work focuses on these allegedly new organisational dynamics and it is these that elicit most general comment about ‘Twitter revolutions’ and the like.</p> <p>However, while these now-standard descriptions capture essential features of many protests, they are not universally applicable. Many protest movements have begun to engage with mainstream political channels such as NGOs and parties. While there is undoubtedly a degree of spontaneity to most protests, many ‘old’ actors have been prominent in their organisation – actors such as NGOs, parties and trade unions. Post-2011 Tunisia provides one example of an apparently effective marriage between new and old civic actors. Another case was the coordination between between community activists and Bernie Sanders’ political campaign in the US. Over time, many protest movements have introduced more formal and hierarchical organisational structures than they originally intended, and some have relinquished their initial reluctance to enter mainstream party politics.</p> <p>In some cases the new wave of ‘organisation-less’ protest has been more conciliatory, more political nuanced and more constructive than it is habitually assumed to be. The standard picture of an unruly protest, unfocused in its goals, absolutist in its hostility to formal politics and devoid of coherent leadership has become something of a caricature. Most protests around the world are not cast in the same mould as the Occupy movements that generated such interest in recession-hit Western states. Some are undoubtedly concerned mainly with disruption; prioritise group-identity over concrete policy ideas; and retain ‘flat’ and informal internal decision-making processes. But others are the very antithesis of this routine description – examples include recent, well-focused protests over electricity prices in Armenia, educational reform in Chile, rubbish collection in Lebanon and pensions in Singapore.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Student march for public education, Chile, 2011. Nicolás1::Wikipedia Commons. Some rights reserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Student march in Chile, 2011"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Student march for public education, Chile, 2011. Nicolás1::Wikipedia Commons. Some rights reserved.jpg" alt="Student march with banners in Chile demanding the right for public education" title="Student march in Chile, 2011" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Student march for public education, Chile, 2011. Image: Nicolás15/Wikipedia Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h3><strong>Outcomes of protests</strong></h3> <p>The results of the current cluster of protests have been mixed. Some have succeeded in pushing presidents or corrupt ministers from power, or in getting governments to unblock political, social or economic reforms – like the protests against incumbent presidents in Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal, and in Guatemala and Korea. Conversely, some have failed more or less completely in meeting their declared aims and have simply invited harsher repression from governments and a restriction of the right to assembly – like in Bahrain and Cambodia. Probably the most common outcome is for protests to elicit some concessions from governments, but without bringing about profound, underlying change – either to governance patterns, economic relations of power imbalances. Recent revolts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Iceland, Jordan, Moldova and Morocco all won some positive responses from governments but far short of protestors’ demands and without any systemic breakthroughs in political or economic governance.</p> <p class="NoteLevel11CxSpLast">There is no easy explanation of why some protests succeed and others fail – a complex combination of factors is habitually at play. The evidence questions an often-made assertion that certain features of a country’s political context determine whether or not contestation occurs and how effective it is. In recent years, protests have erupted in highly autocratic states, in well-established democracies, in imploding conflict-states and in apparently well-managed semi-authoritarian rising powers. Successes are scattered among all these regime types – but so are the failures. Context and political structures matter, but in a more contingent and fine-tuned manner, and need to be combined with the aforementioned path-dependent agency for an adequate explanatory framework to today’s protests.</p> <p class="NoteLevel11CxSpFirst">In sum, while the wave of global protest represents a major trend in international politics, we must take care not to describe this trend in unduly simplistic or sweeping ways. Variation between protests is at least as significant as the common features that link them together. Much of the received wisdom about today’s wave of protests is well grounded, but only partially so. A more granular understanding of protests’ aims, forms and impacts is needed as our ‘age of rage’ unfolds. </p> <p class="NoteLevel11CxSpMiddle">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/protest/black-lives-matter-protests">Protest in the Black Lives Matter movement: an interview with activist and lawyer Justin Hansford</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/protest/where-is-santiago-maldonado">&quot;Where is Santiago Maldonado?&quot;: protesters demand answers*</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Democracy and government Right to Protest tag Richard Youngs Mon, 02 Oct 2017 13:59:44 +0000 Richard Youngs 113548 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How should states manage assemblies in the new age of protest? https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/state-management-assemblies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With a sharp increase in protest around the world over the past decade, international and domestic standards for state protection and management of assemblies must be pursued.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Stephen Melkisethian:Flickr. Some rights reserved. Charlottesville, Virginia protests Aug 2017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563503/Stephen Melkisethian:Flickr. Some rights reserved. Charlottesville, Virginia protests Aug 2017.jpg" alt="Riot police lined up at protests in Charlottesville, USA, in August 2017." title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Riot police at protests in Charlottesville, USA, in August 2017. Image: Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em><em>This article is part of&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">Right to Protest</a>, a partnership&nbsp;<em>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</em><em><em>.&nbsp;</em></em></em></p><p>Seen from one perspective, the rise in the incidence of demonstrations around the world is a welcome development. Not too long ago there were mainly only two options for those who saw themselves as being at the receiving end of an abusive state: submit and wait like one does for the weather to clear up; or take up arms to defend yourself.</p> <p>Taking to the streets unarmed, and using your physical presence to show your opposition to the powers that be, was simply not an option. Even if courageous individuals would dare to defy the state unarmed, the masses could not be mobilised to follow this route. They knew all too well that this was not likely to have a happy outcome for them personally, or to bring about a change for others.</p> <p>It was at the beginning of the 20th century when Gandhi found it possible to persuade large numbers of the rank and file in South Africa and then India to follow him unarmed into the streets – and by and large they lived to tell the tale. By now, mass-communication was starting to evolve, and atrocities in one part of the world began to resonate in other parts of an evolving global village, which in turn started to regard adherence to human rights standards as a prerequisite for membership of the newly formed global community.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Major ideological changes and power shifts came about during the last century at least in part through such demonstrations</p> <p>The world – those who study these things tell us – has over the last couple of centuries at least started to become a less violent place, and this has had far-reaching consequences for the forms of protest that can be made against states. A ‘third option’ increasingly became possible in many societies, alongside violence and submission – namely that of mass protest.</p> <p>There was now at least a chance in some cases that states faced with street demonstrations would hold back on the use of force, and if not, the rest of the world would take note and in some cases act on it. Demonstrations could either replace violence altogether, or at least delay a resort to it. The rise of this less lethal tool of opposition was a result of a less violent world, but also a cause.</p> <p>How powerful unarmed demonstrations could be was shown when Gandhi became the first brown-skinned person to stand up to a European Empire – and win a permanent victory. Major ideological changes and power shifts came about during the last century at least in part through such demonstrations, including the end of colonialism, racial discrimination in the US, apartheid in South Africa, and communism. It also played a central role in asserting women’s rights, the importance of the environment, LGBTI rights, and indigenous rights. It has become a major means of expressing the <em>ressentiments</em> of globalisation.</p> <h3><strong>Demonstrations, political participation and democratic expression</strong></h3> <p>All this hardly means that all is well with demonstrations in the world. The acceptance that the state should facilitate demonstrations, instead of using restraint, is far from universal. In many cases excessive force is still used: organisers are targeted before or after the event, and/or demonstrations are restricted by activities such as the closedown of social media. The mere fact that demonstrations on such an extensive scale take place also demonstrates the underlying tensions and in many cases the general lack of respect for human rights.</p> <p>It should also be recognised that not every demonstration is to be welcomed as being in line with democracy and human rights. In some cases, demonstrations are aimed at promoting hatred against sections of the population, or can deteriorate into random violence and anarchy.</p> <p>However, the point remains that demonstrations have become a central and important part of political participation and democratic expression today, including as a response to some of the major challenges of our time. They do pose risks and are at times misused, but the proper response is not to repress demonstrations in general, but rather to manage them properly to maximise freedom and contain risks.</p> <p>Given the increased prevalence of demonstrations and the potential volatility of such situations, it is of ongoing importance to ensure that that all sides operate from a shared framework for the conduct of demonstrations – that there is a widely acceptable set of rules for this relatively new form of engagement. In many cases, states and protestors alike traverse unknown territory in the process. What can the various parties expect from each other? What should be the role of emerging technologies? How can dangerous surprises be avoided? How are domestic laws and practices brought into conformity with international standards?</p> <h3><strong>The development of a framework for the conduct of demonstrations</strong></h3> <p>My interest in contributing towards the development of a framework to deal with the increasing prevalence of demonstrations arose after I was appointed as Rapporteur on executions in 2010. I wrote my first report to the Human Rights Council on ‘protecting the right to life in the context of the policing of assemblies’ during the advent of what was then heralded as the ‘Arab Spring’.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G11/134/47/PDF/G1113447.pdf?OpenElement">report</a> I emphasised the need for a holistic approach by law enforcement officials to demonstrations. The fact that demonstrations were now a common occurrence was not an excuse for police officers to say they were caught off-guard and the situation had escalated to a point where they had to use force to defend themselves, if they were in a position to diffuse the situation before it got to that point. That was even more the case if their own conduct had caused the tensions to erupt.</p> <p>This means we should not only apply the tests of necessity and proportionality to the police use of force, but also the test of precaution. States must go upstream and ask the question whether they could not have avoided the use of force through measures such as proper equipment, training and planning.</p> <p>In other words, given the central role of demonstrations in the world today, the focus cannot be on the use of force seen in isolation, but has to be on the way in which the authorities deal with demonstrations in general.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">A special duty arises on the part of any state purporting to be democratic, when people engage peaceful assembly, to facilitate the process</p> <p>I got the opportunity to expand on this approach when the Council asked Maina Kiai – the Rapporteur on assembly and association – and myself to prepare a joint <a href="https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/018/13/PDF/G1601813.pdf?OpenElement">report on the proper management of assemblies</a>, which we presented in 2016. We argued for an approach that viewed peaceful protest not as a threat to democracy, to be resisted or at best tolerated, but rather as an integral part of democracy. The report attempts to provide a re-statement of the norms applicable to demonstration in a holistic way – integrating the proper management of the entire process of demonstrations with the rules on the use of force.</p> <p>Given the important role of this right in our society, a special duty arises on the part of any state purporting to be democratic, when people engage peaceful assembly, to facilitate the process. Regular laws are not to be suspended in the context of peaceful protest, but instead of the normal emphasis of the police on maintaining law and order, the focus should shift to protecting rights where necessary. In other words, where this right is at play, the police should not respond with the full force of the law to every infringement provided that it does not threaten rights.</p> <p>In the joint report we also emphasised the point that there is no such thing as an unprotected assembly. Many rights come into play during a demonstration, and even if the demonstration ceases to be peaceful, and those present loose the right to peaceful assembly, the participants retain their rights to bodily integrity and the right against discrimination, to name only two. Moreover, violence on the part of a few individuals does not render the entire gathering violent.</p> <h3><strong>The need for domestic laws to conform to international standards</strong></h3> <p>Hopefully the initiatives listed above – and others that have followed in its wake, such as the adoption by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of <a href="http://www.achpr.org/instruments/policing-assemblies-in-africa/">Guidelines on Policing Assemblies in Africa</a>, which largely follows the same approach – have contributed towards a more widely shared normative framework for the management of assemblies.</p> <p>However, there are many aspects of the management of demonstrations that still seem to me to warrant further attention. A central point relates to domestic laws on the use of force. In a large number of states, the domestic laws on the circumstances under which law enforcement officials may use force are shockingly permissive.&nbsp;</p> <p>These laws in many cases are relics from colonial times, and in the case of former colonies of Great Britain are still based on the latter’s Riot Act of 1714. If 12 people have gathered and fail to disperse after three warnings, firearms may be used with impunity. The picture is not much different in countries with different histories, including those that were under Soviet control (see <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx">here</a>).</p> <p>This needs urgent attention. International human rights law works on the basis of subsidiarity, which means that international law provides only secondary protection. The domestic system is the first line of defence. Especially where the use of force involving serious injury or death is at stake, the results of violations are irreversible. Domestic laws should be brought into conformity with international standards, to ensure that training and accountability can occur and precautionary measures can be taken in line with those standards.</p> <h3><strong>Regulation of crowd-control weapons and other technologies</strong></h3> <p>The international human rights project also needs to take full cognisance of the role played by technology in the context of demonstrations, and ensure that it stays on top of the game. As is often said, technology is not inherently good or bad – it is a tool that can be used for either purposes. The rules of engagement of demonstrations should harness the positive effects of technology and preclude the negative ones.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">There is little regulation of new ‘less-lethal’ technologies, but a huge market</p> <p>In the context of demonstrations, one of the most important applications of technology lies in the field on less-lethal weapons. While the advent of less-lethal weapons has in many respects had positive effects – allowing police where they are justified in using force to achieve the same result in a less injurious way – it also presents problems.</p> <p>Police using such weapons often operate with a false sense of security or license. Even though they are an improvement on lethal weapons, less-lethal weapons can in fact cause serious injury or death, or the threshold for their use is so low that the cumulative level of their increased use leads to a rise in the overall level of repression in society. Moreover, there is little regulation of new ‘less-lethal’ technologies, but a huge market. A system to ensure that law enforcement officials who use these technologies are aware of and can mitigate their risks is required.&nbsp;</p> <p>A careful approach is likewise called for in the case of technologies that can enhance accountability but can be overly intrusive, such as body-worn cameras.</p> <p>The implications of using unmanned weapon platforms in the context of demonstrations also requires serious attention. Unmanned systems include remote-controlled platforms for the use of force (armed drones) as well as autonomous weapons (where computers control the release of force), which can be used to disperse less lethal or lethal force. There can be little doubt that pressures to use them in demonstrations will evolve as they become more common in other security-related fields.</p> <p>Although they present serious risks of abuse, which must be addressed, it seems to me difficult to say that armed drones can as a matter of international law never be used in policing, for example in a hostage situation. However, in the context of the policing of demonstrations, it may be necessary to be more restrictive. Police have a duty to facilitate peaceful protest, and the presence of armed drones in such a context can be a serious disincentive to exercise this right. Even where the use of force may be justified, doing so via a drone seems to be more akin to herding animals than dealing with human beings with a right to dignity. This mode of delivery may be adding insult to injury – and in fact it may escalate the situation. Moreover, the police have a duty to protect people even during demonstrations, and cannot do so if they control the situation from a remote location.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are also good reasons not to use fully autonomous weapons at all in law enforcement. This form of delivery entails that a computer with artificial intelligence or machine learning, to the point that there is no longer meaningful human control, determines whether force will be released. Some of us have <a href="https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N14/497/36/PDF/N1449736.pdf?OpenElement">argued</a> that full autonomy in force delivery has no role to play in armed conflict, but there are opposing views. I would venture to say that there should not be any uncertainty about the fact that they should not be used in any law enforcement situation.</p> <h3><strong>Exploring the different dynamics of demonstrations</strong></h3> <p>There is a need for fuller conceptual engagement with demonstrations by researchers. There needs to be a fuller exploration of the foundations of this right, to ensure that it can better weather the storms that it will encounter. For example, the right of peaceful assembly is often presented as a manifestation of freedom of expression, and as a result it can be subjected to the same limitations. While there is considerable overlap, it seems important also to emphasise the differences between these two rights. Freedom of assembly is not merely a species of the broader right of freedom of expression – it is a distinct right with its own dynamics and justification.</p> <p>Peaceful protest is quite specific in the sense that it entails the concrete, physical presence of the person involved – the salience of the message you convey lies in the fact that you are part of the gathering, not somewhere else. You are not only talking the talk, you are also walking the walk. Demonstrators do not only inhabit the marketplace of ideas but they have entered the real marketplace. And it is normally exercised in collaboration with others – as part of a collective.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">In order to thrive, societies need people with agency and responsibility</p> <p>It should thus be recognised that while many demonstrations are merely expressions of solidarity and pose no threat to the state, they can potentially present a powerful challenge to the state. However, the argument needs to be made that this is a risk worth taking; for example, because it can make other even more serious threats to the system unnecessary and because it stimulates human engagement as opposed to apathy – and in order to thrive, societies need people with agency and responsibility.</p> <p>Moreover, there is plenty of room for more multi-disciplinary collaboration in this field. Not enough people who work in this field are taking notice of the psychological and sociological studies that have given more insight into the dynamics of demonstrations. More can be done to use ICTs to provide police trainees with simulations of crowd situations, to help prevent over-reactions when they encounter real-life situations.</p> <p>These are some ideas about the unique nature of demonstration, but there are clearly many opportunities for others to enter the debate.&nbsp;</p> <p>Demonstrations have come to play an important role in modern democratic discourse. It is an important means of political participation and engaging with some of the big issues of our time. The fact that people engage in the political process through demonstrations means that there is more influence on, and there should thus be more ownership of, the eventual outcomes, even if particular instances of demonstration become quite heated. Much will depend on whether we find principled, responsive and innovative ways of ensuring that the forces at work when this happens are allowed to play a meaningful role in shaping our shared future.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Democracy and government politics of protest Right to Protest tag Christof Heyns Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:56:28 +0000 Christof Heyns 113542 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Protest: a matter of human rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest/introduction <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This week sees the second wave of content for our partnership project with human rights organisations CELS and INCLO, with support from the ACLU, looking at why protest is fundamental for human rights and democratic society, and what can be done to protect the right to protest.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="background-image: url(https://opendemocracy.net/files/u555700/the-right-to-protest_2.jpg); width: 100%; height: 230px; position: relative; background-position: center center; text-align: center; font-weight: bolder;"><h1 class="banner-text-title" style="background-color: rgba(216, 57, 58, 0.9); padding: 10px 30px; border-radius: 0 0 5px 5px; border-bottom: solid 3px #670404; display: inline-flex; font-family: Arial;">The Right to Protest</h1></div><p>&nbsp;</p><h3>A partnership project examining the power of protest</h3><p>This week, 4–8 December 2017, we are publishing our second wave of content for our Right to Protest partnership project. Every day this week we’ll be publishing new content as part of the project.&nbsp;</p><p>Today, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest/lesleyjwood-rubber-ball-grenades-and-robocops">Lesley J. Wood looks at the increasing militarisation of protest policing in North America</a>; researchers from Dejusticia in Colombia look at <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest/colombia-peace-agreement">how the right to protest was a fundamental element of the 2017 Colombia Peace Agreement</a>, but that this and other sections of the Agreement are still to be implemented; while our <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest/vera-jarach-interview">video interview with Vera Jarach</a>, one of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, highlights the mothers search for memory, truth and justice in Argentina.&nbsp;</p><p>Public mobilisations, social protest and human rights are intertwined. Firstly because people generally take to the streets to reject state violence and protest against violations of their rights: to land, to food, to work, to housing, to religious freedom, and so on. Secondly, the act of protest itself entails exercising rights, such as to freedom of expression and the rights of assembly, petition and dissent. Democracies are enriched by protests because of their expressive nature, but also their deliberative and confrontational tone. </p><p>A third and final reason is because state intervention in public mobilisations often ends up violating the rights to integrity, health and – in the most extreme cases – to life. Demonstrators also risk their liberty since they may be arbitrarily detained or subject to criminal proceedings for behavior directly related to protesting. The extent to which governments threaten – or protect – the rights of demonstrators reveals the democratic or authoritarian nature of state response.</p><p><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 17px;">The aims of the project</span></p> <p>Given these factors, social protests are a privileged scenario for the intervention of national human rights organisations. CELS (Center for Legal and Social Studies) and INCLO (International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations) have engaged in this editorial partnership with openDemocracy – with support from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) – to forge a common space for exploring the many links between human rights and social protest, with expert, academic and activist contributors.</p> <p>Our aim is to bring together voices that don’t often interact, either because they belong to different fields of work or intervention, or due to geographical distances and/or the segmentation of debates in the global north and south. Or simply because the ideas are not translated into other languages.</p> <p>For all these reasons, we hope the partnership will serve as a shared platform to present and exchange ideas among a heterogeneous group of actors from different parts of the world. The six-month project will address topics arising in the Americas and other regions, including the use of crowd control weapons, the Black Lives Matter movement, protests by women and students, rural conflicts, and the impact of digital surveillance.</p><h3><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/protest">opendemocracy.net/protest</a></strong></h3><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Right to Protest tag Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:09:51 +0000 openDemocracy 113661 at https://www.opendemocracy.net