The use of tear gas by police against Occupy protesters has been a constant subject of debate since October’s night of violence at Occupy Oakland. Many have begun to ask the question:. Just how dangerous are these “non-lethal” weapons being used?
Now, tear gas, a chemical weapon that stimulates nerves in the eyes to cause tears and pain, is back in the news again, but not at Occupy. (Though the use of pepper spray certainly is.)
Tear gas made an appearance in South Korea yesterday, when lawmaker Kim Sun-dong released tear gas in what may be a first for a legislative session, in an attempt to prevent a vote on a trade pact with the United States. The trade pact was ratified anyway.
Tear gas has also become a focus in Egypt, on the country’s fifth day of clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Al-Jazeera quotes a rights group as saying some have died of suffocation after inhaling the gas. Time magazine’s Cairo correspondent reports that hospitals are getting a “flood” of tear gas injuries.
And Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and an important figure in the Egyptian revolution, tweeted Wednesday: “Tear gas with nerve agent and live ammunition being used against civilians in Tahrir. A massacre is taking place.”
The Guardian points out that a U.S. company is responsible for supplying the tear gas used in Tahrir Square.