Politics

On plastic bullets being “non-lethal”

This so-called substitution is a cynical maneuver, almost certainly a response to quell international criticism by media & human rights groups over the use of pellet guns, which are also called non-lethal.

Indian military officials have announced the use of “non-lethal” plastic bullets as a substitute for pellet guns in Kashmir. Plastic & rubber bullets are called Kinetic Impact Projectiles (KIPs) because they are ostensibly used to injure, not kill. We can dispense with any notion that the Indian army will actually discontinue pellet guns since they’ve proven so effective against unarmed protesters in terms of injuries, disabilities, disfigurement, & deaths. This so-called substitution is a cynical maneuver, almost certainly a response to quell international criticism by media & human rights groups over the use of pellet guns, which are also called non-lethal.

What makes this ‘substitution’ so cynical & contemptible is that there is a very public record going back decades of morbidity & mortality rates from the use of plastic & rubber bullets. British occupation forces first introduced their use into Northern Ireland in 1973. There has been extensive litigation against the British Ministry of Defence for attempting to conceal the dangers of plastic bullets from Irish victims seeking compensation. They were used in the 1980s against anti-apartheid protesters in South Africa, as recently as 2014 by Spanish police against Catalan protesters, & since 1988 by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinians. Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin introduced them against the First Intifada which had begun several months earlier in 1987.

When a UN official pointed out the high number of Palestinian children injured by plastic & rubber bullets, Rabin responded, “Our purpose is to increase the number {of wounded} among those who take part in violent activities but not to kill them.” Despite his genocidal disregard for the lives of Palestinian children, Rabin went on to win the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.

Last year, the journal BMJ Open published a study by a team of scientists & medical researchers who reviewed 26 worldwide studies conducted on the use of plastic & rubber bullets from January 1990 through June 2017. That study was reported widely, including in Israeli media. The study encompassed 1,984 people who had been injured (the majority classified as severe) & 51 people killed by KIPs. They found that 300 (15%) of those injured were permanently disabled, most commonly through loss of vision. “Blindness, & removal of the spleen, or a section of the bowel as a result of abdominal injuries, accounted for most of this disability.” The researchers pointed out that statistics are probably incomplete & conservative because of tendentious or under-reporting by police, military, & manufacturers.

India actually introduced the use of plastic bullets in Kashmir early last year. It was reported as early as April 2017. Like Yitzhak Rabin, an Indian army official claimed that plastic bullets do not pierce the body & at most cause minor abrasions & contusions. That’s called lying through your teeth. The Indian army knows very well the kind of damage caused by KIPs but are as indifferent about that as they are toward the disability, disfigurement, & deaths caused by pellet guns. Although they kill, the purpose of KIPs is to permanently disable activists & demoralize resistance to occupation.

Stop the use of pellet guns & plastic bullets. End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

Marry Scully

I report frequently on war, Palestinians, child labor, immigration issues, homelessness, sweatshops, human rights issues. I see working people as the agents of social change and have an international perspective. I spare no sarcasm in skewering politicians in any country who betray the cause of human freedom.
Marry Scully is an activist based in the United States who reports frequently on the K-conflict and has been a strong advocate for the freedom struggle of Kashmir.
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