Amnesty International Monday launched a global campaign in response to the rising threat against protest rights around the world. In a press release, Amnesty International singled out countries such as Russia, France and Sri Lanka as areas where the right to protest has been seriously curbed.
Recently, Russians gathered across Russian cities to protest the war in Ukraine, resulting in the arrests of thousands of protesters. In Sri Lanka, peaceful protests against the ruling Rajapaksa family were suppressed by the Riot Police, Sri Lankan Army, Police Special Task Force and Sri Lankan Navy Personnel. Women’s rights protesters and advocates in Iran were jailed in troves in 2018, drawing international condemnation. Similar dissident voices in Nicaragua were suppressed in ahead of the 2021 presidential election, resulting in the arbitrary detention and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents. France has also seen a wave of protests and crackdowns concerning security laws and police violence.
In response to this rising wave of crackdowns against people’s right to protest, Amnesty International launched the “Protect the Protest” campaign. The campaign aims to challenge attacks on peaceful protests and support those fighting for the protection of human rights. Amnesty International points to government actions such as restrictive legislation, demonization of protestors, militarization of policing, as well as inequality and discrimination as their reasons for launching the campaign.
Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said :
In recent years we have seen some of the biggest protest mobilizations for decades. Black Lives Matter, MeToo, and the climate change movements have inspired millions the world over to take to the streets and online to demand racial and climate justice, equity and livelihoods, and an end to gender violence and discrimination…Almost without exception, this wave of mass protest has been met with obstructive, repressive and often violent responses by state authorities. Instead of facilitating the right to protest, governments are going to ever greater lengths to quash it. This is why, as the world’s biggest human rights organization, we have chosen this moment to launch this campaign. It’s time to stand up and loudly remind those in power of our inalienable right to protest, to express grievances, and to demand change freely, collectively and publicly.