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We are looking forward to joining Anna Feigenbaum, Helen Close (Omega Research Foundation) and Minute Works for a discussion on tear gas, its growth and global deployment, its impact on protesters and citizens, and the companies that profit from its popularity with security forces.

Anna is the author of Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today, recently published by Verso Books. An extract, on the origins of tear gas in America, is available here.

We have been working with Anna for several years, particularly given the role that tear gas has played in the suppression of dissent in Bahrain since 2011. Indeed, Anna’s book opens with a recounting of the February 14th uprising and the weeks and months that followed:

“As the protests continued, the police shot tear gas into cars, homes and mosques. Hundreds went to the hospital with head trauma, lost eyes, miscarriages, and respiratory failure. Bahraini civilians and independent journalists used social media to distribute and circulate images of canisters bearing the logos of the US companies Federal Laboratories and Combined Systems Inc., along with Brazilian exports from Condor Non-Lethal Technologies. The New York Times wrote of ‘systematic and disproportionate use of tear gas’ in Bahrain, drawing international attention. Amnesty International condemned its use and Physicians for Human Rights released a report after the first eighteen months of protests that documented thirty-four tear gas-related deaths. Among the victims were babies, children, and the elderly.” (from Tear Gas, pp1-2)

At Bahrain Watch we have long been concerned with the companies supplying tear gas to Bahrain. Our ‘Arms Watch‘ project endeavors to document this and in 2014 our ‘#StopTheShipment’ campaign successfully halted the export of over 1.6 million rounds of tear gas from South Korean to Bahrain.

Our ability to identify the manufacturers of tear gas and so-called ‘riot control’ equipment is both from the work of activists and photojournalists on the ground, along with the assistance of organisations like Omega Research Foundation, which works to “provide rigorous, objective, evidence-based research on the manufacture, trade, and use of, military, security and police (MSP) equipment”. Last year, we worked with Omega to produce a ‘Guide to Taking Photographs of Weapons and Ammunition in the Field‘ to assist in the documentation process.

We have also worked with Anna, Omega Research Foundation and the graphic designers at Minute Works on #RiotID, a “collaborative civic media project helping people identify, monitor and record the use of riot control against civilians”. Bahrain Watch assisted on the #RiotID Pocket Book, a downloadable resource, available in multiple languages, intended to be easily accessed and carried by protesters, journalists and other interested citizens to help identify riot control weapons. Here’s direct links to the English and Arabic PDF’s, more are available on the #RiotID website.

‘Riot Control, Policing and Human Rights’, will be held at the Partisan Collective in Manchester from 6-7pm on January 25th. More information can be found on the Facebook event page.

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