"This map sheds light on the heavy repression suffered by protesters around the world—and it is terrifying."
Amnesty International on Tuesday launched a new flagship global campaign, Protect the Protest, by publishing an interactive digital map "that exposes the shocking rise in the repression of protesters by states across the globe."
The "first-of-its-kind" map, says Amnesty, shows "how governments treat protests as a threat rather than a right and how law enforcement officials view their role as being to suppress and subdue protesters rather than to facilitate their rights."
"As a result," the group notes, "thousands of people are being unlawfully dispersed, arrested, beaten, and even killed during demonstrations. They also face devastating consequences afterward, just for participating in protests."
"Thousands of people are being unlawfully dispersed, arrested, beaten, and even killed during demonstrations."
The map also "reveals how many countries misuse less lethal weapons such as tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and batons to harass, intimidate, punish, or drive away protesters, shutting down their right of peaceful assembly."
Amnesty military, security, and policing researcher Patrick Wilcken said in a statement: "Peaceful protest is a right, not a privilege, and one that states have a duty to respect, protect, and facilitate. However, the right to protest is increasingly under threat, with authorities using unlawful force against people in over 85 countries."
"From abusive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detention, to torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, and state-sanctioned killings, this map sheds light on the heavy repression suffered by protesters around the world—and it is terrifying," he added.
Elizabeth Campos, an activist from Angola's Movement for Women in Politics, told Amnesty that "when we attend protests, the experience is always one of near death. We leave, but we are not sure if we will return to our families."
"It is a country where democracy only exists on paper," she added. "Protests can turn very violent, so every time I return to my daughters and grandsons, I celebrate. We constantly suffer from institutional violence in my country."
According to Amnesty, "intersecting forms of discrimination, from age to gender to race, make it more difficult" for many people to protest, with "women, LGBTI people, gender-nonconforming people, children, and young people [facing] specific challenges when it comes to participating in protests safely."
"By working together and ensuring that everyone—including the most discriminated against—can participate in protests equally and without fear of violence, we can create a more just and equal world," the group added.