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(en) Ireland, Workers Solidarity #83 - The Business of Brutality Weapons Conference in Dublin - Less Lethal, More Repressive

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 24 Dec 2004 11:43:53 +0100 (CET)

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The Jane's "Less Lethal Weapons Conference" took place in the Berkeley
Court Hotel, Ballsbridge on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th of October.
Less lethal weapons can be defined as any weapon which is less likely to
kill than normal military hardware, therefore normal guns and bombs are
out while plastic bullets, electric shock batons and tear gas are in.
Previously marketed as 'non-lethal' weapons they had to be rebranded
once people started noticing the fatality rate.
Jane's is a publishing company which specializes in producing trade
magazines and websites for the security and defence industries, basically
advertising and information publications combined with yellow pages type
directories for those who wish to be kept up to date on everything from the
latest biological weapons to the newest advances in crowd control

The organizsers didn't release the guest list, but from the list of speakers
it's fairly clear that this conference was aimed at various police forces.
M.C. for the conference was Colin Burrows, formerly of the RUC (who
have killed 14 people in the North with 'less lethal' plastic bullets) and the
line up also included members of police forces from Los Angeles,
Germany and the infamous English West Midlands division. Also in
attendance was a man named Tom Smith, the president of Taser
International Inc, a company which manufactures weapons that deliver
50,000 volts of electricity and are designed to disrupt the victims nervous
system, disabling muscle control and temporarily incapacitating the
person. What Tom probably didn't mention was the numerous
documented deaths caused by Tasers in the U.S.

However, the use of these kind of weapons is international. Amnesty
International has reported the fact that in 2002 they were being imported
into over eleven countries with wide spread documented records of torture
and abuse of prisoners. In Brazil, for example, the U.N. Special Rapporteur
on Torture stated that: "Torture was reportedly practiced during every
phase of detention ...the most common forms of torture were electric
shocks, beatings, and threats."

Interestingly, another conference speaker was our own Garda Assistant
Commissioner Joe Egan. Stun guns were briefly available through a legal
loophole in Ireland in the early 80's until the trade was shut down by the
gardai. At the time, they rejected using the devices themselves claiming
that they were unsafe but maybe now that they've seen the newer, deadlier
model they've changed their mind?

This conference was about two things. Firstly making massive amounts of
money for companies like Taser. In 2002 the U.S. alone granted export
licenses for almost $15 million worth of these types of weapons.

Secondly it was about the gradual attempt to militarise and criminalise
public protest across the E.U. and U.S.

At the recent Republican National Convention in New York entirely
peaceful protesters were brutalised with Tasers and electro-shock batons
as well as the more traditional police club. In Ireland, while the gardai are
still trying to forget the day they were caught battering people at a street
party on Dame Street, Garda Representative Association spokesperson P.J.
Stone recently claimed that gardai armed with guns and not just batons
should face protesters at the Mayday actions. Since they managed to break
people's bones using the traditional baton we'd hate to see what would
have happened if they had used any of the weapons being marketed in

We don't think that these devices have any place in our society which is
why we called for Jury's to cancel this conference and why we took part in
the protests called by the Dublin Grassroots Network outside the hotel.
By Padraig

This page is from the print version of the Irish
Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.
We also provide PDF files of all our publications
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/pdf.html for you
to print out and distribute locally
Print out the PDF file of this issue

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