Protesting: Not what it used to be

Making your point when unhappy with government decisions has changed little over the years. People get together and march shouting slogans and raising banners. What has changed is the way state forces control protests usually resulting in violent reaction.

by Val Bridge
The Shrinkinglobe Wednesday 19th March 18:00

Meet the protest profiteers

crowd control

Its war out there

Welcome to Milipol, Europe’s largest internal security expo. Operating since 1984 and now gearing up for its fourth decade, Milipol is one of the longest-running and most established security trade shows for military and policing. The event held in Paris featured over 900 exhibitors, drew 27,000 visitors and hosted 160 official delegations.

Corporate leaders in the ‘less lethal’ market include Combined Systems Inc and Non-Lethal Technologies, both based in the US, Israel’s ISPRA and Brazil’s Condor Non-Lethal Technologies. Southeast Asian suppliers are expanding and many of the components that go into making these weapons come from China and India, where exports are cheap.

Since 2011, the sales of less lethal technologies for crowd control have been on the rise. From the perspective of security salespeople, protest is highly profitable. ‘Civil unrest has become commonplace in many regions of the world, from protesters in Brazil to activists in the Middle East. Governments have responded by purchasing record amounts of non-lethal weapons,’ reports ‘The prevailing uncertain economic circumstances, the complex political situation, and the deteriorating security condition across the globe have given rise to popular unrest and protests,’ explain investment researchers at Markets and Markets.

One such crowd-control solution prominently featured at Milipol 2013 was the Samson NL RW5 – a 360-degree rotating, modular, rapid-fire multi-lethal response system for what Israeli manufacturer Rafael calls ‘low-intensity conflicts violence’. Not yet ‘safety’ approved for the commercial market, the modular system combines LRAD (long-range acoustic technology) with Combined Systems Inc’s Venom grenade launcher for coloured smoke and flash bangs. With over 4,000 of their base systems already sold, Rafael’s executives are expecting high demand for their product.


Flash Bangs

Multiple force response systems also come in small packages. Gracing the glass cabinets at Milipol 2013 were Condor’s ‘hyper triple’ grenades, Combined Systems’ ‘multi-bangs’ and ISPRA’s ‘double purpose rounds’ and ‘multi-effect’ biodegradables that mix coloured smoke (CS) with flash bangs, causing distress to the eyes, ears, noise, skin and respiratory systems simultaneously.

‘These grenades operate in two stages with three effects,’ the ISPRA product catalogue explains. ‘After throwing or launching, they emit a “High Flow” of CS Smoke. Few seconds later… surprisingly, the grenade explodes, creating a deterrent stunning noise by dispersion of either CS powder, rubber pellets, colouring agents, or sticky gel.’

Rio-based Condor has already secured a $22-million contract as part of the 2014 World Cup’s security budget, providing teargas, rubber bullets, light and sound grenades, and tasers.

Even NATO admits we do not know enough about the real human impacts of using less lethals. Their 2006 report concluded that much existing data ‘is unavailable due to proprietary or national security interests’, and where data is available, it is often of ‘very little relevant quality’.


I would be more inclined to obey this little lady

While more long-term, comprehensive medical studies are needed, decades’ worth of research on the harms caused by these weapons does exist. Medical association journals and NGO groups such as Physicians for Human Rights have been releasing findings on teargas effects for years, and continue to call on governments to stop their use. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Omega, have published numerous reports on the abuse of such weapons by state forces.



Complete article can be seen here. Worth a read.

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