Public protests are nothing new, but recent demonstrations suggest that response tactics from authorities are growing more severe worldwide. Weapons like rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons are increasingly used for crowd suppression, and new technologies like chemical irritants and directed energy weapons are starting to emerge.
In terms of reactions from authorities, where are the most dangerous places to protest?
As Trace Dominguez explains in this Seeker Daily dispatch, dangerous and even deadly public demonstrations take place every day around the world. One of the most dangerous places to protest is Palestine.
In recent years, Israeli security forces have adopted a hard-line approach to public protests in the occupied territories. In October of 2015, authorities countered mounting protests with widespread use of rubber bullets, water cannons and arrests that international observers deemed illegal.
In just three months, Israeli forced detained thousands of protesters and killed more than 130 Palestinians, according to Amnesty International.
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Israel is deploying new technologies, as well. A recent report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) cited Israel for using a water cannon called "The Skunk" which sprays water laced with foul-smelling chemicals that can induce nausea, skin rashes and vomiting.
Another country frequently cited for harsh counter-protest measures is Turkey. In 2013 and 2014, violent suppression of peaceful assemblies -- ostensibly protected by the Turkish constitution -- resulted in at least 45 deaths, according to the U.S. Department of State.
But perhaps the single most dangerous country to protest publicly is Egypt. More than 800 protesters were killed and 6,000 injured during the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising, according to Amnesty International.
Violent suppression is not specific to the Middle East. In 2014, clashes in Ukraine and Hong Kong resulted in thousands of casualties. Also in 2014, protests in the U.S. city of Ferguson, Missouri, were countered by local security forces using shotguns, tanks and M-4 assault rifles.
President Barack Obama later condemned the severity of the response and introduced legislation to prohibit local police from using military equipment. Let's hope other countries follow suit.
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