Tuesday, August 30, 2016

US, Canada, Oz: The Hypocrisy
August 31, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Tichaona  Zindoga : Political  Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

In the wake of the destruction caused by the opposition sponsored orgies of violence disguised as demonstrations for electoral reforms in Harare, the Ambassadors of Australia, Canada and the United States released a scandalous statement backing the violence and rapping Government for alleged human rights abuses. In the following article we detail their own harsh crowd control measures, that include the use of banned weapons.“Isn’t it in the US they shoot to kill, sometimes pumping black guys 30 bullets or more for failing to take just instructions from their cops? How would MDC-T take it if one of their protesters got shot to death and the officer gets suspension on full salary?”

These are the sentiments of an expatriate Zimbabwe security expert who is working in the volatile Horn of Africa region.

He spat out as he commented on the reactions of some western countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia, who last week appeared to condemn the Zimbabwe Republic Police for putting down riots by opposition thugs who went on a rampage, looting shops, destroying property and disturbing the peace in Harare’s central business district.

A police car and a van belonging to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation were burnt to shells while many businesses were left counting their losses.

Observers have noted that the contrived condemnation of authorities and an apparent relish in the activities of the opposition smack of hypocrisy especially when these countries have harsher and often more lethal crowd methods that Zimbabwe can muster.

In fact, experts note, the police in these countries use more military style tactics with the US relying on the “Disturbance Operations” manual developed by the Army in April 2005.

United States

The United States has the dubious distinction of notorious killings especially of black protesters and suspected criminals.

Last year, the Guardian noted that “US police kill more in days than other countries do in years”.

According to Ben Piven of Al Jazeera America, “Riot control police — wearing helmets, visors, body armour and gas masks — are called in for disturbances ranging from rowdy soccer matches and merchandise looting to anti-war protests. Civil disorder, whatever the source, can be quelled with a variety of methods, increasingly taken from the military arsenal”.

These methods include teargas which is one of the most commonly used riot control agents around the world.

“Known as a ‘lachrymatory’ substance for the irritation that generates teary eyes and difficulty breathing, the chemical is usually discharged from a canister that is fired from a grenade launcher towards a crowd . . . The active ingredient, capsaicin, is sprayed directly onto people — as at a 2011 tuition-hike protest at the University of California, Davis.

“In Ferguson, MO, police have attempted to disperse protesters using smoke bombs — fireworks that generate smoke after ignition. A similar projectile can be used by police to break up crowds: stun grenades. Also known as flashbang, these non-lethal explosive devices create a blinding light and loud noise to disorient people.”

The police use baton rounds, that is, rubber bullets, plastic bullets, wooden bullets and bean-bag rounds.

Rubber bullets are rubber-coated steel bullets, fired from normal firearms or dedicated riot-control weapons and are dangerous when fired from close range and when aimed at people’s heads, they can cause fatal damage.

Plastic and wooden cause bruises and have been banned in Oakland since 2004, while “Bean bag round” or “flexible baton rounds,” have often cause muscle spasm, temporarily disabling the subject.

This method has caused deaths among victims.

Liquid fire, or water cannon, is also used by American police departments and when standard police vehicles are not sufficient for forcefully deploying riot officers, bus-loads of additional policemen and armoured vehicles, such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) jeeps are deployed to issue out high-velocity stream.

US authorities also use stink bombs or liquids causing a foul odour that can immobilise rioters while police can mount physical barriers and trap protesters.

The security forces also beat up protesters in “baton charges” using clubs and riot shields, “forcing people away from the scene due to the actual impact or just the fear of being struck”.

There is a range of weapons known as “wave weapons” and these include stun guns and Tasers that use electro-shock pulses to incapacitate people and this led to the deaths of more than 100 between 2000 and 2005.

The police use what are known as Long Range Acoustic Devices the low-frequency sonic weapons emit pain-inducing tones which face protesters in Wall Street protesters.

The Active Denial System (ADS), known informally as a heat ray, a weapon once used in Afghanistan has been acquired by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, according to Al Jazeera.

“With a directed-energy blast, the weapon increases skin temperature with a burning sensation, using similar radiation technology to a microwave.”


A few years ago, Canada hosted the G8 and G20 summits and prepared its most austere crowd-control arsenal, which drew criticism.

Broadcaster CBC noted that: “Officials have bulked up their security arsenal with sound and water canons, teargas canisters and rubber bullets.

“Protesters have complained that some of these security measures are too drastic and pose the potential to cause permanent physical damage.”

In an expose titled, “A closer look at riot control methods from rubber bullets to teargas” CBC gave a rundown of the police methods and arsenal.

It featured the Anti-riot weapon Enfield (ARWEN 37) developed in 1977 to address crowd control turmoil in Northern Ireland, which can fire teargas canisters and plastic bullets to a distance of up to 100 metres.

ARWEN 37 bullets are said to travel at speeds of up to 74 metres per second and the weapon has been used by law enforcement agencies in the US, Singapore and in Canadian cities including Vancouver, Ottawa and Victoria.

Canadian authorities also find teargas handy, which is used to drive back crowds and typically composed of chemical compounds chloroacetophenone (CN) and chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS).

“The gas irritates the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth and can cause tearing, blurred vision, runny noses, redness, rashes, nausea and vomiting,” explains CBC.

During the G20 summit, anti-riot police deployed the Long-range acoustic device, also known as the sound cannon.

Health experts condemn the use of LRAD which has been used by the US army in Iraq and on American warships.

The devices are said to emit noise of up to 143 decibels and according to CBC, health officials suggest noise at up to 85 decibels can cause hearing damage.

“Protesters have complained that using these devices is too drastic but police have countered that they plan on using the LRADS primarily as a ‘communication tool’ to broadcast messages to large crowds of people.”

Canada also deploys water cannons, pepper spray and batons.

The Guardian notes that police in Canada have an average of 25 fatal shootings a year.


In Australia, police are systematically brutal to not only rioters, but also minorities such as the aborigines and foreigners.

They have been seen punching, kicking, grabbing and dragging protesters, which, according to information readily available, which “left shared the broader public sense of shock at the brutality of officers using what they perceived to be excessive force”.

“In Australia,” states the Marxist Left Review, “the state has a long history of clamping down on dissent and attempting to quash public protest and industrial militancy.”

“The state will always define when and where violence and coercion are legitimate.

“At times this may mean changing the law, redefining police powers or targeting particular groups.”

The journal explains that the Australian authorities have designed more specialised military-style units and increased police powers.

Explains the journal: “These powers deliberately extend the capacity of police to prevent protest and intimidate political activists.

“The doctrine of counter-terrorism, along with the idea that police are needed to keep the public safe, has been used as justification for attacks on civil liberties, protests and workers in industrial disputes.

“The number of people imprisoned in Australia has significantly increased in the last decade, with both Labour and Liberal governments imposing the same law and order agenda.”

Aboriginal people are “disproportionately affected by increases in police power and changes”, it is noted.

“In order to justify state violence, Australian governments continue to push the idea that the Indigenous population and potentially criminal immigrants need to be controlled,” notes the Marxist Left Review.

The Australian government, through the actions of police, is often accused of “State crime” as institutions “. . . do regularly commit and instigate crimes . . . (as they) hold both the power and the capacity to kill, injure, exploit, repress, incarcerate and create untold amounts of human misery.”

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