Statements on Tear Gas

Whether it be members of the Facing Tear Gas network, or news of protesters facing tear gas, or cross-border campaign victories, here is a collection of statements from during the Facing Tear Gas campaign era. But to start, here is the statement that pulled together the Facing Tear Gas networks, a statement of transnational points of unity:


"Tear Gas is a Weapon of War"

April 24th, 2013 

Tear Gas and related chemical weapons are commonly used as tools of state repression and torture against people's movements and true democracy. They are used alongside other tools of torture (sometimes including live ammunition) by increasingly militarized police and correctional officers throughout the world. 

In 1993 the Chemical Weapons Convention declared that tear gas and pepper spray may not be used as a "method of warfare" and should only be used by police forces for "law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes." Voices of movements all over the world however, backed by reputable studies, state that police use in effect has declared a war on the people. For this reason, the state's use of these chemical weapons must end.

Though marketed as an alternative to "conventional" lethal weapons, tear gas and pepper spray regularly cause serious harm and even kill, making them part and parcel of the global weapons regime as a whole. They are part of a broader process of the increasing militarization of local police and prisons -- where police forces look more and more like soldiers and the use of military weapons is financially incentivized by governments. Promoted to "control crowds" and people organizing in prison and in the streets, these chemical weapons are just the tip of the iceberg, and working to end their use is a step to put a stop to state repression as a whole.

In Bahrain, "after a large number of riot police arrived at a nonviolent demonstration in January of 2012, they shot volley after volley of tear gas canisters directly at a group of roughly 50 protestors. As white, low-hanging clouds of toxic smoke hung over the crowd, one person suddenly collapsed, blood streaming from his head where he had been hit by a canister." (from a 2012 report by the US-based organization Physicians for Human Rights) A War on the People.

In Chile, "as dawn broke over southern Chile on July 30, smoke and flames rose from barricades blocking the main highway in the town Padre las Casas, 675 kilometers south of the capital of Santiago. About fifty members of the Paillanao Mapuche indigenous community had constructed the barricades to protest the fact that the government had not responded to requests to improve six miles of rural roads in their community. On July 23, just a week before Huaiquimil was injured, police evicted sixty Mapuche protesters of the Temucuicui community from private land they had occupied to demand the return of their ancestral territory. Amnesty International reports that 200 police officers used tear gas, pellet guns and shotguns to disperse the occupation and a subsequent protest outside a hospital where injured community members had been taken." (taken from an article written for The Nation magazine by Brittany Peterson) A War on the People.

In Egypt, "When there were a lot of us and we managed to gain ground, they would fire several canisters in several spots, for example two in front of us and two behind us. They were firing approximately four canisters every most ten minutes would pass without them firing tear gas. Sometimes they would fire a canister behind us and we would be forces to run toward them, so they would pick us off with shot gun pellets and rubber bullets. And sometimes they would throw a canister in the middle of the street, so we'd run to the sidewalk on the right and the left. There would be two police officers on both sides standing there to pick us off with pellets and bullets." (from a 2012 report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights) A War on the People. 

In Palestine, "At the end of 2008, Israel’s security forces began using a new type of 40mm-caliber tear-gas grenade...which launches the grenade as far as hundreds of meters away, a range much greater than that of the standard tear-gas grenade...The manufacturer’s user instructions explicitly prohibit firing the grenade at people, warning that its impact may cause serious injury and even death...With the advent of the use of this type of grenade, demonstrators began reporting an increased number of serious injuries. In 2009, Bassem Abu-Rahmah, from the village of Bil’in, was killed when hit in the chest by an extended-range tear-gas grenade. In the same year in the village of Ni’lin, US citizen Tristan Anderson was critically wounded when hit in the forehead by this type of grenade. He remains severely braindamaged. Following the death of Abu Rahmah, the Israeli military prohibited the use of extended-range tear-gas canisters. Nevertheless, in 2010, Israeli security forces resumed use of this grenade in the village of a-Nabi Saleh. " (from a 2012 report by Israeli organization B'Tselem) A War on the People.

In the United States, "The halls of a Pennsylvania high school are patrolled by numerous guards in uniform and plain clothes...and I've seen three students taken away in hand cuffs...During one incident, I was waiting with a book cart for the elevator. There were loud noises and students came pouring out of a nearby door followed by a caustic smell. There was shouting while the students stood in the hall, then a uniformed officer followed them through the door and the students bolted down the hall away from her. The officer was holding a student with one hand whose eyes were streaming. In the other hand she held a chemical spray container that she pointed at the students. I have been exposed to both tear gas and pepper spray in the past and could not tell you which this was, but even through peripheral contact I could feel my eyes begin to water and my throat burn." (from Global Network member organization Decarcerate PAA War on the People.

In Canada, the use of tear gas and plastic bullets by police forces in the province of Quebec has caused several serious injuries in 2012, 2003 and 2001, including Francis Grenier who has lost the use of one eye after the explosion of a flash bang grenade during a student protest in Montreal on March 7, 2012. (from Global Network member organization COBPA War on the People

In addition to many other places outside of this growing global network as well as those who have already joined the campaign, tear gas use has been central in dispersing and suppressing movements for true democracy. Testimonies reveal again and again that tear gas and related chemical weapons serve to disrupt the alternatives that movements are striving to build.

United States-based manufactures of chemical weapons (including AMTEC, CSI, Defense Technology, NonLethal Technologies, and Sage, just to name a few) as well as the local and federal processes that rubber stamp their transfer to US police departments, prisons and police forces worldwide, allow for financial profit in the millions every year from this repression.

From expensive weekly weapons trainings offered to law enforcement and security personnel across the US, to lucrative deals with repressive regimes in every corner of the globe, US companies join other major global manufacturers, such as Condor in Brazil and Dae Kwang in South Korea, in repression profiteering and should be held responsible for their role in silencing the voices of countless uprisings and the world's incarcerated.

Tear gas and other chemical munitions are part of the state's arsenal of weapons of war on the people. For communities struggling against state repression, they know that "the war" has long ago come home and that US-based and multi-national companies are profitting from suppressing dissent and democracy. The moment to end war and repression is now.


Les gaz lacrymogènes et d'autres armes chimiques sont régulièrement utilisée comme outil de répression et de torture étatiques contre les mouvements populaires et la vraie démocratie. Il est temps de les nommer pour ce qu'elles sont.

En 1993, la Convention sur les armes chimiques interdisait l'usage des gaz lacrymogènes et du poivre de cayenne comme moyens de guerre, tout en permettant leur utilisation par les corps policiers pour l'application de la loi, y compris à des fins de contrôle d'émeutes domestiques. Mais les voix de mouvements à travers le monde, appuyées par plusieurs études crédibles, affirment que leur usage par la police équivaut à une déclaration de guerre contre le peuple. La conclusion est donc qu'il faut y mettre fin. Bien que certains affirment qu'ils sont une alternative à l'usage conventionnel d'armes létales, les gaz lacrymogènes et le poivre de cayenne causent régulièrement des blessures graves et même des morts, ce qui en fait une partie prenante du régime global des armes.

Faisant partie d'un processus plus large de militarisation croissante des forces de police locales et des prisons (où les policiers ont de plus en plus l'air de soldats, où l'usage d'armes militaires est financièrement encouragé par les gouvernements et où les armes non-létales sont encouragées pour contrôler des foules indisciplinées et les gens qui s'organisent en prison), ces armes ne sont que la pointe de l'iceberg et le travail pour mettre fin à leur usage est une étape pour que cesse la répression étatique.


Au Québec, Canada, l'usage de gaz lacrymogènes et de balles de plastique par les forces policières ont causé plusieurs blessés graves en 2012 et en 2001, dont Francis Grenier qui a perdu l'usage d'un œil après l'explosion d'une flash bang (grenade assourdissante) lors d'une manifestation étudiante à Montréal le 7 mars 2012. Une guerre contre le peuple.

L'usage des gaz lacrymogènes a été central pour disperser et supprimer des mouvements dans plusieurs autres endroits en plus de ce réseau grandissant. Des témoignages révèlent chacun à leur tour comme les armes chimiques servent à perturber les mouvements qui luttent pour construire des alternatives à ce monde.

Des compagnies d'armes chimiques basées aux États-Unis (dont AMTEC, CSI, Defense Technology, NonLethal Technologies et Sage, pour ne nommer que celles-là), ainsi que des processus locaux et fédéraux qui permettent leur transfert à des prisons et à des corps policiers aux États-Unis et dans le monde, font des millions de dollars de profit à chaque année en permettant cette répression. Des formations hebdomadaires lucratives offertes aux employés des corps de police et de sécurité partout aux États-Unis, en passant par des contrats lucratifs avec des régimes répressifs dans tous les coins du monde, ces compagnies se joignent à d'autres producteurs internationaux majeurs, comme Condor au Brésil et Dae Kwang en Corée du Sud, qui profitent de la répression et devraient être tenues responsables pour leur rôle dans l'étouffement des voix d'innombrables soulèvements et des détenus de ce monde. Les gaz lacrymogènes et d'autres armes chimiques sont une partie prenante des moyens de guerre des responsables de l'application de la loi. Pour les communautés qui luttent contre la répression, la Guerre a été déclarée et il faut y mettre fin maintenant.


إنّ الغاز المسيّل للدموع والمواد الكيماوية المتعلقة به، يستعمل من قبل الدول من أجل القمع و التعذيب في مواجهة الحركات الشعبية والديمقراطية الحقّة. لقد آن الأوان لتسمية الأمور بأسمائها.

عام 1993، أعلنت "معاهدة الأسلحة الكيماوية" أنّ الغاز المسيّل للدموع و رذاذ الفلفل لا يمكن استعمالهما "بطريقة قتالية" وأنّه على قوات الشرطة القيام بذلك فقط "من أجل تطبيق القانون بما في ذلك إرادة التّحكم بأعمال الشغب المحلية." الا أنّ أصوات الحركات الشعبيّة حول العالم مدعومة بدراسات علمية موثوقة، تعلن الحقيقة الى الملأ، وهي أنّ الشرطة قد أقامت الحرب على الشعب. لقد حان الوقت - على هذا الواقع أن ينتهي.

 ومع أنّ هذا السلاح عادة ما يعتبر بديلاً عن الأسلحة القاتلة "التقليدية"، فإنّ الغاز المسيّل للدموع و رذاذ الفلفل يؤديان الى أذى شديد والى الموت في بعض الأحيان، مما يجعلهما جزءاً لا يتجزأ من نظام الأسلحة العالمي ككلّ. إنّ ما يحصل ما هو الا جزء يسير من العملية الأوسع للعسكرة المتزايدة لقوات الشرطة المحلية و أمن السجون، مما يؤدي الى أنّ أفراد الشرطة أصبحوا يشبهون الجنود أكثر فأكثر ويُشجّع حالياً على استعمال الاسلحة العسكرية غير القاتلة من أجل التحكّم بالحشود المتمرّدة  وأولئك الذين ينظّمون أنفسهم داخل السجون. إنّ كلّ ذلك ما هو الا سطح الموضوع وإنّ العمل على إنهاء إستعماله ليس إلا خطوة اولى من أجل إيقاف قمع الدولة ككلّ.

البحرين, تشيلي، فلسطين, اوغندة, مصر, كندا, والامثلة عديدة. فانّ استعمال الغاز المسيّل للدموع أمرٌ أساسيٌّ في تفريق و قمع التحركات الشعبية. إنّ الشهادات تكشف، بوضوح متزايد، أنّ الأسلحة الكيماوية تُستعمل من أجل تخريب البدائل الممكنة للعالم الحاضر والتي تحاول الحركات الشعبية بنائها.

إنّ الصناعات الكيماوية المتمركزة في الولايات المتّحدة الاميركيّة بما في ذلك AMTEC, CSI, Defense Technology, NonLethal Technologies, and Sage- و هذا لا يشمل الا النذر اليسير منهم- كما  جميع العمليات المحليّة و الفيدراليّة الطابع التي تمكّن من نقلهم الى أقسام الشرطة في الولايات الكتحدة الاميركية كما نحو السجون و قوات الأمن في العالم أجمع، إنّما تدرّ أرباحاً بالملايين سنوياً عبر تمكين حصول نفس ذلك القمع.

فمن التمارين الأسبوعية المكلفة التي يُدرّب فيها أفراد قوات "حفظ القانون" و موظفو الأمن في كلّ أنحاء الولايات المتّحدة من أجل استعمال تلك الاسلحة، الى الاتفاقيّات التجارية الباذخة مع الأنظمة الاستبدادية المختلفة في كلّ أرجاء العالم؛ توحٍّد كلّ تلك الشركات الأميركية جهودها مع مصنّعين عالميين آخرين مثل شركتا Condor في البرازيل و Dea Kwang في كوريا الجنوبية  من أجل جني الأرباح عبر استمرار القمع. لكلّ ذلك يجب أن تحمّل تلك الشركات مسؤولية دورها في إسكات هتافات الحركات الشعبية، التي لا تعدّ ولا تحصى، كما في قمع كلّ مسجوني العالم.

إنّ الغاز المسيّل للدموع والذخائر الكيماويّة الأخرى هي في  كل وضوح من الوسائل" الحربية" لفرض القانون. و بالنسبة للمجتمعات التي تناضل ضد القمع فإنّ الحرب نفسها  قد دخلت الى حدودها.  و إنّ الوقت قد حان من أجل إيقافها.  


Other Facing Tear Gas Statements:





December 3rd, 2012 - "U.S. Tear Gas Still on the Streets of Egypt: Honoring Asma Mohammed"

Earlier last week, Egyptians poured out onto the streets across Egypt to protest President Morsi’s dictatorial decree overriding the power of the courts, attempting to keep a heavily Muslim Brotherhood-influenced constitutional assembly in tact, and granting himself seemingly unchecked authority over the nation. This past Friday, pro-democracy protestors poured into Egypt’s streets and pack its many squares again to counter Morsi and his attempts to quickly push through a controversial constitution in spite of popular outcry over his seizure of ultimate control over the Egyptian government.

U.S.-made tear gas has continued to rain down on protesters in Egypt calling for Morsi to reverse his decision as well as on those who filled Mohamed Mahmoud Street to call for justice and accountability for those who were gassed, beaten and murdered there exactly one year ago. Much of the tear gas — then and now — was made in Jamestown, Pa., by Combined Systems Incorporated, the same manufacturer whose seven-ton shipment, approved by U.S. government, was refused on November 27, 2011 by Asma Mohammed and her fellow customs workers at the Port of Adabiya in Suez.

The War Resisters League has awarded Asma Mohammed its 2012 Peace Award, given in the past to activists including Bayard Rustin, Bob Moses and Jeanette Rankin. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the first WRL Peace Award event in 1958.

Mohammed’s refusal of the tear gas shipment from the Port of Wilmington, N.C., came following the unprecedented deployment of thick walls of tear gas against protesters near Tahrir Square during the “battle of Mohamed Mahmoud.” The “battle” on this street near Tahrir, began on Friday, November 18, 2011 and lasted for eight days. During this time, Egyptian riot police killed tens of young men, most of them poor and working class—some estimates of the death toll are as high as 50. Hundreds of thousands of people remained in the square during this time, and volunteers at the makeshift field hospitals in Tahrir for the injured noted that some of the bodies that returned were completely black from the gas, as if they had been burned.

In addition, though Tahrir was a relatively “safe” place during the attacks on people at Mohamed Mahmoud, a new kind of chemical agent was used against people in the square on at least one day in particular. On the spent canisters, protesters read the term “CR,” different from the “CS” gas they normally saw. CR gas was said to cause violent convulsions, unconsciousness, and seizures—something they had never before experienced. It was enough to spark a new macabre and biting chant among the revolutionaries: “asha’ab yureed al-ghaz al-adeem!” (“The people want the return of the old gas!”)

Asma Mohammed, whose act of resistance to tear gas and to US support for the regime led to the formation of the General Independent Union of Port Workers, recalls: “I said ‘No, I refuse — because I don’t want to be the cause of someone’s pain or death.’ So in solidarity with me, or with the cause, my co-workers said ‘No, we’re not going to work on it either.’”

Asma Mohammed and her counterparts in the independent Egyptian labor movement, a key force in the unfolding revolution, have been present in the streets of Egypt over this past week. The protests continue while the tear gas, beatings and repression remain the norm under Morsi’s civilian government, as it was under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces’ military junta. On Tuesday, the Egyptian “Popular Alliance Party” member Fathy Ghareeb died of asphyxiation as a result of tear gas fired in Tahrir Square.

As Morsi tries to justify his takeover with the promise for justice for those killed by government forces on streets including Mohammed Mahmoud, Asma Mohammed recognizes that only the people of Egypt can protect the revolution and calls on the people of the U.S. to join her: “The Arab people now want to be the decision makers. Just as the American people should be the decision makers and affect their government in the decisions it makes. We also want our rulers to know that we are the ones that are going to influence things. And they’re not going to understand that until governments of the world begin to act according to that logic.”

And as the US embassy in Cairo tweeted last Tuesday, “The Egyptian people made clear in the January 25th revolution that they have had enough of dictatorship” while the US continues to send tear gas and military aid to the Egyptian government, the ordinary people of the US must recognize that we are the only ones here who are of any use to the revolution.

For more information about US-made tear gas in Egypt, go to: