Protesting should never cost you your life — it’s time to take the torture out of protest

Over the past week in France, thousands have taken to the streets in protest to remember Nahel – a teenager killed by the unlawful use of firearms, at the hands of police.

In Argentina, protesters advocating the salary demands of teachers have been met with excessive force, tear gas and physical violence.

The right to protest

Protest is one of our most powerful tools for change. But here at home and right across the globe, this human right remains under attack. In recent years, we’ve seen anti-protest legislation sweep the globe, and waves of repression from police and military forces in deliberate attempts to crush dissent.

Alarmingly, many of these security forces are routinely misusing rubber and plastic bullets among other lethal weapons, to violently suppress peaceful protests – causing horrific injuries and even deaths.

A torture-free trade treaty protects protest

A torture-free trade treaty at the United Nations would not only help protect human rights and safety, it would regulate the trade in policing equipment – ensuring it doesn’t end up in the hands of abusive police forces.

Gustavo Gatica was just 22-years-old when he was blinded in both eyes. He was hit in the face by rubber-coated metal pellets fired by police, during inequality protests in Chile. So was Leidy Cadena, when she lost her eye. Leidy was hit in the face by a rubber bullet fired from close range by a riot police officer, as she walked to a protest over tax reforms in the Colombian capital of Bogota.

Journalists who covered the 2020 police crackdown on protests in Belarus, were targeted with rubber bullets. So were the millions of Hong Kongers who took to the streets in 2019, to peacefully protest the Government’s extradition bill.

Without clear and comprehensive regulations in place, the misuse of these lethal weapons will continue to cause devastating injuries worldwide.

People power works – how you can help

Progress happens when we come together to demand change. We should be able to do this without fear of being harmed, hurt, or even killed by the misuse of weapons. Your action can help people protest safely in the future.

We are only a few months away from a historic vote at the UN that could change lives. To get it over the line, we need as many countries as possible – including Australia – to support a Torture-free trade treaty.

When courageous people protest, they make the world a better place. Right now, governments in Australia and around the world are cracking down on our right to protest. Too many people in power who fear change and want to keep us divided are suppressing protests and silencing critical voices. Learn more about our Right to Protest campaign.

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AUSTRALIA: Let's take the torture out of protest