Ban Tear Gas Now!

Stop using chemical weapons on citizens of any nation.

Archive for the tag “miscarriage”

Tear Gas Exposure

Tear gas exposure is harmful, and others may be impacted by it more than you. Pregnant women, children, elderly, and those with immune deficiency disorders or other medical conditions (such as asthma) are especially prone to tear gas’ effects. If you are able to do so, assist others in seeking medical help. Even if you don’t immediately feel the effects, seek medical assistance quickly. Rinse your eyes and skin with cold water, and discard clothing that has been exposed as soon as possible. In some cases, water can actually reactivate the tear gas, which is why it is important to seek medical attention.

If you are pregnant, remain calm, but immediately leave the area. Tell others so that they can assist you. Get to the nearest emergency room and explain what has happened. Demand an ultrasound and a plan for follow-up care. Do not let a doctor brush off your exposure due to a lack of experience on his or her part. US Poison Control may state that at as long as you were in an open area, you probably are ok: this is not necessarily true.

If you are a police officer, please remember that innocent people may be harmed irreparably if you choose to use tear gas.

If you are a government official or concerned citizen, please join our efforts to ban CS gas and other chemical weapons.

Please share widely. If you would like to translate this into a foreign language so that this message can be more widely spread, email banteargasnow [at] hotmail [dot] com .

Suzanne

Battlewounds

Today is a bittersweet anniversary for me. Exactly two years ago, to the hour, I saw my first baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound before being injured by tear gas a week later on assignment for the University of Washington and spending the following weeks trying to save my child in vain.

Once we knew it was too late, I was told not to cry, but women need to acknowledge these losses openly. Until we do, others will feel compelled to suffer silently. Politicians will continue to make adequate reproductive health insurance impossible at a time when women need it most — surgical procedures after miscarriage are not automatically covered, so I am still fighting the Washington State L&I for reimbursement. And authorities will continue to blatantly disregard public health by indiscriminately deploying chemical weapons banned from use in warfare, but somehow still legal to use on innocent civilians.

Join me in the fight to protect others from needless suffering. In honor of the women in Bahrain, Greece, US, and other countries who have lost their children and face the threat of future losses, take a stand. In honor of those who have died or witnessed others’ deaths from “inappropriate” use of tear gas (when in reality there is no appropriate use), speak up.

Some things in life cannot be undone, but we can prevent them from happening again.

Write your politicians: Ban the production and distribution of tear gas now. Protest. Let others know about the dangers of this weapon, even if you don’t think you will be exposed.

Suzanne

OP-ed on US Manufactured Tear Gas in Bahrain

Please go to the following link for Human Rights TV’s take on US involvement in Bahrain: http://news.humanrightstv.com/news/2012/op-ed-us-manufactured-tear-gas-causes-miscarriage.

My Story

I grew up thinking tear gas was non-lethal. My army father told me about troops being sent into a room in basic training, dressed in full gear, and after the door was shut, just sitting and waiting as tear gas was pumped into the enclosure. After the room was filled, they were instructed to take off their gas masks so that they would learn not to panic. A classmate in my undergrad classes told me what it was like to be tear gassed as a child in South Korea — this came up because many of my classmates had attended the WTO riots and came back with smoke filled portraits of the chaos. She said it’s important to let your eyes tear up and not try to wipe them, and don’t sniffle because you’re just trapping the toxins in instead of letting them out.

When I was exposed to tear gas, I wasn’t protesting, and I wasn’t in the military. I was walking through a parking lot on a Wednesday night with a group of students I was co-chaperoning for work, on the way to a soccer match. I was happy: I was in Athens, and I had just seen my baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound less than a week before, strong though tiny. As we neared the stadium, we started to notice something like the smell of burning rubber, or maybe someone was smoking something. It was seconds between the time my boss said, “I think it’s tear gas,” and we rounded the corner to see a line of police in full riot gear, faces covered, and our eyes and throats began burning. Students began coughing and sputtering, and I just repeated the advice I heard. I stayed calm. Instead of physically separating the AEK inspired scuffles that broke out through the night, police would continue to release multiple canisters of tear gas.

When I got home, my clothes reeked of the gas. I called my fiancé and told him what happened. We started trying to get in touch with all the medical professionals we knew. Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center connected us to US Poison Control: the answer was that if I wasn’t right on top of a canister I was probably ok. I called my Greek doctor in the morning, and he said I was probably ok. We went on a class field trip over the weekend. On the way back, my boss noted he was surprised to see me actually eating food (my morning sickness had kept me from eating much up to that point). The next day, I began experiencing intense cramping. I went to work briefly the day after (a Monday) and was put on bed rest and medicine to control bleeding until my doctor could see me on Thursday. There was no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I called my fiancé and begged/ ordered him to get on a plane in time for the follow up ultrasound a week later. I was still on medicine and bed rest, meaning until he came out, I didn’t have an assured means of even getting groceries. The second ultrasound confirmed the worst, and after a physically and emotionally painful weekend, I had surgery and decided to return to the States.

Why am I writing this? It’s humiliating, depressing to talk about it. In part, I write this for solace of and as a resource for others who have experienced the same. Over a year later, I still think about it. I admit that even after the birth of my daughter, I still cry for the loss of my first pregnancy. They say tear gas is a temporary irritant, but that has not been my experience. Some may even state that because I was in Greece I should have expected this, but Americans need to pay attention. Greece, like many other nations, is supplied with their military weapons by the US (since the end of WWII). Tear gas is an American export: an American company profited off the loss of my pregnancy and countless injuries to others. So then I also admit I write out of anger: anger at the thought that other women have gone through this, and I’ll be damned if I allow my daughter’s generation to be harmed by her government’s practices in the same way I was. The American government has the responsibility of protecting its citizens from irresponsible corporate practices and the use of unnecessary force.

The sad fact is that activists and soldiers alike almost claim it as a badge of honor, “Yeah, I’ve been tear gassed.” If you’re a healthy young male, you probably won’t notice any long lasting effects- maybe more of a desire to protect yourself against it next time, or maybe you build up a tolerance to it. But tear gas does not only target healthy young males. When it is deployed, it hits whoever is in the area. The elderly, young children, and pregnant women are just as likely targets for an uncontrollable chemical weapon. Due to the nature of laboratory studies, it is not ethical to test the effects of tear gas on humans or human pregnancy, yet governments have no qualms about actually using the substance on pregnant women. Articles have been published on the rise in miscarriages due to tear gas exposure (see “Relevant Articles” at http://www.banteargasnow.com), but many medical professionals are still citing the lack of “laboratory testing” to prove a link. We see tear gas’s brutal effects in the real world, but it doesn’t count because the dispenser of the tear gas wasn’t taking notes or wearing a lab coat.

This is my plea to you: write your local representatives, your federal government officials, and your police departments. Send them articles and information about the dangers of tear gas. (I will do my best to continue making material available through this website. If you have resources you would like to add, please email banteargasnow@hotmail.com.) Tell the “authorities” you will not stand for the deployment of chemical weapons on citizens.

In the meantime: When you protest, do so non-violently – for the safety of those who are not as strong, do not give the police justification for dispensing this “crowd control method”. If you are exposed, seek medical attention and help others do the same.

Do not just brush it off as a temporary nuisance. Tear gas is a Chemical Weapon. Any nation that uses chemical weapons on its own citizenry is not free, and any country that exports it for the abuse of other countries’ citizens is not just.

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