“Governments repress the protest”

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Amnesty International (AI) denounces a greater repression and surveillance by governments to eliminate peaceful protests. On the occasion of the celebration of Human Rights Day, the organization has published a report pointing out the increasing violence inflicted on protesters or activists. As they point out, “police batons or modern technologies at the service of espionage are some of the tools to eliminate freedom of expression in countries such as China, Mexico, Israel and the Occupied Territories.”

The pandemic has generated a global emergency that “has not served to put human rights at the center,” denounces Esteban Beltrán, director of AI in Spain. In the midst of this economic and social crisis, the organization has identified various methods that have been used by different leaders in power to suppress the right to protest.

The excessive use of force On the part of State security, repressive laws, censorship through the Internet, and the discrimination and violence against women that are manifested, are some of the instruments used to undermine civil liberties, according to the report.

“In many parts of the world, people who exercise their right to peacefully protest are harassed, beaten, imprisoned and killed.

“The The right to protest has never been more threatened than today. Due to its great power, protest is often perceived as a real threat by governments. That is why activists around the world are experiencing first-hand the escalation and normalization of approaches and tactics that governments and security forces use to restrict, control and prohibit protests “, assures Esteban Beltrán. Furthermore, “women who demonstrate are exposed to different forms of gender-based violence, such as sexual violence.”

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Batons and their misuse

The Omega Research Foundation has investigated together with Amnesty International the use of batons, one of the most used methods by the State security forces of the vast majority of countries. In their investigation, both organizations have documented “how they are often used in an improper way”, in acts that may constitute torture and other ill-treatment.

The report is based on public access photos and videos from 35 countries, and includes examples of the violent repression of demonstrations in Belarus, Colombia, France, India and Myanmar. The videos show law enforcement officers using batons and similar weapons, to inflict punishment, hitting people already immobilized, unjustifiably inflict dangerous blows on the head, and cause suffocation by immobilizing people by the neck.

In the case of Spain, AI has denounced the misuse of police batons against peaceful protesters or journalists in the protests held in Madrid in July against the assassination of Samuel Luiz; the use of firearms (shotgun) during the February mobilizations in Linares (Jaén) and rubber bullets in the protests called in Barcelona against the arrest of Pablo Hasel this February.

The last example they cite is that produced during the metal strike in Cádiz. The organization “has viewed images that have shown an inappropriate and unjustified use of police batons against people who did not pose any risk,” they add.

Activists attacked

In its report, AI has pointed out the attacks that various activists are experiencing in different parts of the world. One of the examples they cite is that of the journalist with Chinese citizenship Zhang Zhan, who reported on the first coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan and who has been sentenced to four years in prison for “provoking altercations and seeking trouble.”

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Zhan was arrested at the end of May and started a hunger strike in September for which she “is in danger of dying if she is not released urgently for medical treatment.”

They also point to Mexico and the case of activist Wendy Galarza, who was shot and wounded while protesting violence against women.

On the other hand, they denounce the espionage carried out by Israel to Palestinian activists thanks to Pegasus, the spyware from NSO Group. They also review the work of Janna Jihad, just 15 years old, who is “the target of threats and harassment by Israel” for documenting and denouncing discrimination in the occupied Palestinian territories.

They also point out that Israel has been the protagonist of the Pegasus Project scandal and the leak of 50,000 phone numbers of possible surveillance targets.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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