Tongue Cancer Because of Pepper Gas

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A Gezi Park protester named Mehmet İstif has tongue cancer because of
excessive pepper gas used by police forces. Mehmet İstif, who is a software expert, joined Gezi Park protests in Mersin on 20 June 2013. According to Mr. İstif, a police officer who was carrying a pepper gas tank on his back,sprayed gas on his face from 40 centimeters. Mr. İstif’s mouth was filled with gas and tongue was burnt because of pepper gas. After a series of examinations in hospital, he had an operation. Later, doctors realized that he had tongue cancer. Now he is having chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is unable to speak. Mehmet İstif is communicating with other people by writing his words on a piece of paper. His mother doesn’t know how to read and write and therefore cannot communicate with his son. She says that “We don’t want any help or support from the government. They are the ones who did this to my son. All I want from police is to stop using pepper gas. We don’t want them to ruin lives of young people. We will seek for justice in the court.”

ResIstanbul

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My experience in Gezi Protests started on Friday, May 31st. I went to Taksim Square at around 10 pm because I was feeling remorse for not being there as I watched the news and followed the horrible events on tv. It was like a war field when we arrived. Police were everywhere. We had to walk for a while to get to the main square and our eyes started to burn long before we arrived. The tear gas was so strong that it started burning our eyes when we were 600 yards away from where it was actually being used. At last we came to the main square. There were about 200 people in the square but a bigger crowd was in the Istiklal Street. Where the police were attacking them with water canons and throwing tear gas continuously. We tried going that direction and joining the crowd to support them but when we tried to move towards there they started throwing tear gas at us too. It was the first time I experienced tear gas in my life and it was the most horrible thing I ever breathe in. It was thrown right next to us and as soon as it was thrown my whole face, mouth, nose and eyes started burning. I couldn’t breathe or see anything. I started running and ran towards the little stores on the side of the street. I started hitting their windows to take me in and thankfully they did. I felt happy for a minute and thought I was safe but I wasn’t. They saw us hiding into stores and threw more towards that direction. The gas started coming into store and filled that little place too. That was the scariest moment. There was nowhere to escape, nowhere to hide from it. There was gas outside and inside and we didn’t have any other chance than to breathe it in as it burned our lungs, faces and eyes. I started coughing very hard because I couldn’t breathe anymore. Then all of a sudden a small door opened behind me and someone pulled me in there. It was the little storage room of the grocery store and there was a fan, which gave the air inside to outside so there wasn’t that much gas in there. The guy that pulled me in there gave me a piece of cardboard for me to fan my face and lemon to rub my face with. Apparently lemon was good for tear gas and it took away the burning on my face. After 5 or 10 minutes we went outside again. We were just standing on the street and not even attacking the police. We didn’t even have anything to attack them with. They threw some more gas as we gathered in the street again. Every time they threw it we were just running away and finding somewhere to hide. They threw it about 5 times in 30 minutes. Then they stopped for a little while. After like 30 minutes they threw it again. As soon as they threw it we ran away and hid into and apartment. I ran in there we closed the door and looked outside. There was a man on the ground screaming and holding his face in pain. He was literally in agony on the ground. I think the capsule hit him and hurt him and burned his face. We opened the door and ran to him to help him but as soon as we came near him they threw gas at us. We were screaming and telling them to please stop so we could help him. We grabbed him and brought him in the apartment we were hiding in. People started putting anti acidic medicine on his face and fanning him, he was passed out. Then I saw an ambulance passing on the street. We jumped outside and shouted at the ambulance to stop. It did and we put the man in the ambulance. I stayed there until like 4 in the morning that day then left. I kept going to Taksim every day. -Defne

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Facing Tear Gas is a storytelling project of the War Resisters League by and for people that have experienced tear gas all over the world. SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US. Help us build our campaign against the use of tear gas and related chemical weapons and the militarization of police in our communities, and visit the full campaign website here. For updates on the campaign: Sign-up for tear gas campaign updates and action alertsLike us on Facebookand Follow us on Twitter.             

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In the course of my job I spend a fair bit of time in a Philadelphia public high school, which takes its name from a frequently commodified and de-radicalized civil rights leader. The halls of this high school are patrolled by numerous guards in uniform and plain clothes, and the frequent Public Service announcements alternate between authoritarian threats and pleading bribes for “good behavior”. In the short time I have spent there, I’ve seen three students taken away in hand cuffs, often after a physical struggle with multiple adults. The relevant incident occurred less than a month ago while I was waiting with a 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. There were sufficient numbers who were panicked that they knocked over my cart of books and fell on each other in an effort to get away. 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. I have no idea what the student’s alleged infraction was, nor do I care. Schools are where we young people go to learn. We should be ashamed that students caught in the school-to-prison pipeline are learning what it means to face chemical weapons. We should be many times more ashamed if we let that pipeline take them to a prison cell where they will face the same weapons in routine cell extractions.- Owen

In the course of my job I spend a fair bit of time in a Philadelphia public high school, which takes its name from a frequently commodified and de-radicalized civil rights leader. The halls of this high school are patrolled by numerous guards in uniform and plain clothes, and the frequent Public Service announcements alternate between authoritarian threats and pleading bribes for “good behavior”. In the short time I have spent there, I’ve seen three students taken away in hand cuffs, often after a physical struggle with multiple adults. The relevant incident occurred less than a month ago while I was waiting with a 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. There were sufficient numbers who were panicked that they knocked over my cart of books and fell on each other in an effort to get away. 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. I have no idea what the student’s alleged infraction was, nor do I care. Schools are where we young people go to learn. We should be ashamed that students caught in the school-to-prison pipeline are learning what it means to face chemical weapons. We should be many times more ashamed if we let that pipeline take them to a prison cell where they will face the same weapons in routine cell extractions.- Owen

Tahrir square, Jan 25th, 2013. Me and my parents were protesting against the new ‘religious’ regime ruled by Morsi. All of a sudden, we heard screams from several areas around us and people running away from an unknown attack. We couldnt tell what it was till we felt sharp burns through our respiratory system, we coughed so hard and we didnt know that we had to run so fast. It was strange, the gas was colorless, and no warning sound was heard before the bomb was released. Young men and women found it easier to run to fresh air and catch breath. But me while tied to 2 old parents we were unable to run fast, in a few seconds we almost lost our sight and consciousnesses, burning in our eyes, faces and throat. I fell on the ground spitting liquids and trying stick to my parents. But looking behind me I couldn’t find them anymore. A life saver made me breath some vinegar vapor, somehow it worked and came back to life after i almost thought it’s my end. And thankfully later, I discovered my parents were saved in the same manner. This gas has a killing effect for us. Please help us STOP getting gas into our cities.- Mohammed

Tahrir square, Jan 25th, 2013. Me and my parents were protesting against the new ‘religious’ regime ruled by Morsi. All of a sudden, we heard screams from several areas around us and people running away from an unknown attack. We couldnt tell what it was till we felt sharp burns through our respiratory system, we coughed so hard and we didnt know that we had to run so fast. It was strange, the gas was colorless, and no warning sound was heard before the bomb was released. Young men and women found it easier to run to fresh air and catch breath. But me while tied to 2 old parents we were unable to run fast, in a few seconds we almost lost our sight and consciousnesses, burning in our eyes, faces and throat. I fell on the ground spitting liquids and trying stick to my parents. But looking behind me I couldn’t find them anymore. A life saver made me breath some vinegar vapor, somehow it worked and came back to life after i almost thought it’s my end. And thankfully later, I discovered my parents were saved in the same manner. This gas has a killing effect for us. Please help us STOP getting gas into our cities.- Mohammed

In the Northwest of France, about 20km NW of the city of Nantes, there is a community in struggle near the town of Notre-Dame-des-Landes against a new airport and motorway.  The locals there have been resisting the project in an area already home to numerous airports for about forty years.  It’s somewhat of a pet project of a guy called Jean-Marc Ayrault, once mayor of Nantes, who is of late the prime minister of France. Since 2009, there have been people moving in from all over to occupy empty houses and terrains owned by the local authorities and then by Vinci, the contractor for the airport.  At times there were around 30 separate terrains, forests, fields, or houses squatted and occupied against the project, while also creating spaces for collective living, with gardening, and self-built houses, bike workshops, etc… The place has been occupied by the French military since mid-October, when they began “Opération César” in an attempt to clear the area (about 10km squared) of opponents to the project, who have responded with a fierce resistance, despite the systematic destruction of homes and equally fierce police brutality.
The week of 23 November last, a group of people occupied a woodland on the site that had already been evicted three times, building treehouses and structures on the ground, as well as putting up nets and other structures in the trees where we could live and resist any more eviction attempts. On the weekend of 23, the police returned in strength, along with workers and machines, to attempt to evict the forest again. I spent two days and nights in a tree, while battle raged in other parts of the forest and in areas outside of it, between protestors and police, listening to the explosions of concussion grenades, rubber bullets and, of course, tear gas.  High up in an oak, we were unable to flee the noxious clouds like our comrades on the ground (many of whom were prepared, with gas masks or, at least, scarves and lemon juice).  We who were up high, sat and watched oncoming clouds of teargas and braced ourselves, and with scarves and lemon juice suffered through it until it passed on, only to be hit by more immediately.  There was a feeling of powerlessness, being in this position, for there was really nothing else to be done, but to suffer through it.  My lungs burned, my eyes flooded with tears, and I had difficulty breathing, but nowhere to go.  This, throughout two days and nights.
On the ground, people fought with the police, with various projectiles and fireworks, all really nothing compared to these heavily-armoured servants of corporate interest, armed to the teeth with these humanitarian weapons of crowd control. I had trouble thinking about how it went for the birds of the forest, between the tear gas and the concussion grenades. - Camille

In the Northwest of France, about 20km NW of the city of Nantes, there is a community in struggle near the town of Notre-Dame-des-Landes against a new airport and motorway.  The locals there have been resisting the project in an area already home to numerous airports for about forty years.  It’s somewhat of a pet project of a guy called Jean-Marc Ayrault, once mayor of Nantes, who is of late the prime minister of France.

Since 2009, there have been people moving in from all over to occupy empty houses and terrains owned by the local authorities and then by Vinci, the contractor for the airport.  At times there were around 30 separate terrains, forests, fields, or houses squatted and occupied against the project, while also creating spaces for collective living, with gardening, and self-built houses, bike workshops, etc…
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The place has been occupied by the French military since mid-October, when they began “Opération César” in an attempt to clear the area (about 10km squared) of opponents to the project, who have responded with a fierce resistance, despite the systematic destruction of homes and equally fierce police brutality.

The week of 23 November last, a group of people occupied a woodland on the site that had already been evicted three times, building treehouses and structures on the ground, as well as putting up nets and other structures in the trees where we could live and resist any more eviction attempts. On the weekend of 23, the police returned in strength, along with workers and machines, to attempt to evict the forest again.
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I spent two days and nights in a tree, while battle raged in other parts
of the forest and in areas outside of it, between protestors and police,
listening to the explosions of concussion grenades, rubber bullets and, of course, tear gas.  High up in an oak, we were unable to flee the noxious clouds like our comrades on the ground (many of whom were prepared, with gas masks or, at least, scarves and lemon juice).  We who were up high, sat and watched oncoming clouds of teargas and braced ourselves, and with scarves and lemon juice suffered through it until it passed on, only to be hit by more immediately.  There was a feeling of powerlessness, being in this position, for there was really nothing else to be done, but to suffer through it.  My lungs burned, my eyes flooded with tears, and I had difficulty breathing, but nowhere to go.  This, throughout two days and nights.

On the ground, people fought with the police, with various projectiles and fireworks, all really nothing compared to these heavily-armoured servants of corporate interest, armed to the teeth with these humanitarian weapons of crowd control.

I had trouble thinking about how it went for the birds of the forest,
between the tear gas and the concussion grenades. - Camille

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I was gassed with CS gas in Tahrir Square on November 23, 2011. Blindness, skin on fire, utter panic. Down with SCAF, Down with the Police State, Justice for the Martyrs of the Revolution. - Samah

I was gassed with CS gas in Tahrir Square on November 23, 2011. Blindness, skin on fire, utter panic. Down with SCAF, Down with the Police State, Justice for the Martyrs of the Revolution. - Samah

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: 1989 Three years after US-backed dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier fled after a popular uprising, there was a succession of coups as different segments of the ruling class were vying for power. At this point Avril was in power and there was a popular demonstration for democracy. The cops and military responded with gas, then live fire. I was blinded by the gas. Locals dragged me out of harm’s way into a house and washed my eyes with water and lime. Now after Obama/Clinton manipulations, a Duvalierist is back in power. - T. Savino (Photo: © Daniel Lainé/CORBIS)

TEAR GAS STORY
Where: Occupy Oakland
Why: Defending encampment, providing free food, shelter, services, community and political awakening
Outcome: ——> Growing determination to end current socio-economic system
END US IMPERIALISM                    TOPPLE CAPITALISM - Lara

TEAR GAS STORY

Where: Occupy Oakland

Why: Defending encampment, providing free food, shelter, services, community and political awakening

Outcome: ——> Growing determination to end current socio-economic system

END US IMPERIALISM                    TOPPLE CAPITALISM - Lara

This is a story from Cora, who was tear gassed as a part of a U.S. student delegation to Chile during the summer of 2012. The protest was for the re-nationalization of copper in support of education. Student protests have swept Chile over the past year, known at first as the “Chilean Winter.” The protests are against the privatized education system in place in Chile and will continue, as students demand a free public education for everyone.

I was in Denver in October 2011 when riot police were destroying the Occupy camp. A crowd of us were trying to rescue food, beds, and medical supplies; suddenly an officer fired rubber bullets at a kid videotaping from a tree, then they tear gassed us, peaceful men, women, and children. I saw a lady on the ground screaming and holding her eyes, everyone was stampeding and shrieking and it was impossible to breathe. They destroyed the food and supplies. - Dave

I was in Denver in October 2011 when riot police were destroying the Occupy camp. A crowd of us were trying to rescue food, beds, and medical supplies; suddenly an officer fired rubber bullets at a kid videotaping from a tree, then they tear gassed us, peaceful men, women, and children. I saw a lady on the ground screaming and holding her eyes, everyone was stampeding and shrieking and it was impossible to breathe. They destroyed the food and supplies. - Dave

Remembering the Battle of Seattle

[Photo by Sion Touhig] I first heard about the Seattle Protests at a Ruckus Society training camp about 6 months before the WTO was scheduled to come to town. Ruckus is a group famous for the dramatic and daring banners they hang from cranes and buildings and towers; they focus on human rights and environmental issues. The speaker there representing the anti-WTO organizers, after making an eloquent case for the connections between all the globalization issues and for a coalition of activists of all stripes, said “We will lie down on the airstrips and stop the delegates planes from landing.  If they get past that, we will block the highways leading from the airport to the city. If they get past that, we will block the hotels they are staying in, we will block the streets, and we will block the doors of the convention center and we will not let them make another another free trade deal that week in Seattle.” How could I not help with such a plan? In that moment I committed to go.

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  I first met my friend Trucker in 1970 at a rally against the Vietnam War. Our demo was going to start on the Berkeley campus and continue with a march down Telegraph Avenue. This was shortly after the National Guard and police had murdered six demonstrators at Kent State and Jackson State, so the mood was extremely tense. The Berkeley city government had denied us a permit to march and called in police reinforcements from Oakland. The Oakland cops had a reputation for brutality (based on their treatment of the black population), and we were expecting an ugly and possibly violent confrontation. Out of fear, many people decided not to march, but others of us argued that marching was now more important than ever. We needed to defy the government’s attempts to scare us into silence.

After speeches and music in front of Sproul Hall, we marched off the campus and were met by a wall of police sealing off Telegraph Avenue. Some of our hard-cores in front tried to break through the barrier but were clubbed down. Cops began firing what looked liked shotguns, and people started screaming and running in panic, but it turned out to be tear gas.

A demonstrator wearing a biker helmet, swim goggles, and a cloth around his face picked up a gas canister with gloved hands and hurled it back at the police — a classic scene of a brave individual defying tyranny. Inspired, I pulled off my old green beret that I’d been wearing and used it to protect my hands as I scooped up a hot canister and threw it back where it came from. I thought about all the grenades I’d thrown in Vietnam and felt much better about this one.

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I have SCD. After an evening with friends & while walking to my car, I inhaled tear gas. It was different from any other tear gas I was exposed to before. I fell to my knees, movement was difficult so was thinking. Had my friends not been around, I wouldn’t have made it. I suffered headache, stomach ache, weak voice, and general bone-ache for the following days. - S. Hussain, 29 Years - Bahrain

I have SCD. After an evening with friends & while walking to my car, I inhaled tear gas. It was different from any other tear gas I was exposed to before. I fell to my knees, movement was difficult so was thinking. Had my friends not been around, I wouldn’t have made it. I suffered headache, stomach ache, weak voice, and general bone-ache for the following days. - S. Hussain, 29 Years - Bahrain

I’m an anchor who works on Egyptian TV. I’m also from the city of Suez, the city of the first martyrs of the Egyptian revolution which has seen violent clashes between rebels and the police. Police have used expired tear gas to suppress and disperse the protests causing much harm among the demonstrators like burning eyes and facial injuries.

Injuries did not stop at the face though. We’ve also seen neurological injuries, with demonstrators spending days in treatment centers and some even killed by exposure to these types of serious toxins.

After last year’s late November severe tear gas repression on Mohammed Mahmoud St. in Cairo, my wife, officer of customs at Adabiya port, received a shipment coming from a U.S. port carrying three containers carrying tons of US-made tear gas for the Ministry of Interior. But she refused to deal with this deadly cargo, especially after she heard that I and four of her colleagues were standing in solidarity with her, declining to process the shipment.

Resistance still continues to prevent U.S. tear gas from killing Egyptians at the hands of their security forces. - Medhat