Violence can take on many forms, such as for instance, confrontations between police and protestors, occupation of public areas or damage and pillage to shops. In such instances, you may, at any time, find yourself in the middle of a protest and be subject to violence.
To reduce this risk, there are several reflexes to adopt to anticipate a protest and avoid such a situation:
– Find out about the political and social events taking place in the country, electoral schedules, religious festivals as well as their commemorations or anniversaries.
– Avoid traditional protest locations, the surroundings of official buildings and symbolic State buildings. In the vast majority of cities, there are one or more traditional areas for meetings and protests often in the city centre and close to places of power.
Certain precursors may exist to warn you about the beginning of a protest:
– Unusual meetings or grouping of people
– Lively conversations, loud voices and a general increase in the sound levels
– Deployment of the police.
If you should find yourself in or around a protest, you should try to distance yourself and return to your accommodation, place of work or a secure location away from the route of the protest and its direct surroundings. To do so:
– Move into space so as to locate the nearest exit points (closest streets) or shelters.
– Distance yourself as calmly as possible, and do not run if followed. Any sudden movement or sign of panic is likely to “increase tension”.
– If your place of work or accommodation is too far from the place of the protest, go to the nearest hotel.
– Do not take refuge in a store, bank or institutional building located along the protest route or in the near vicinity thereof. In the event of violence, they are often the target for pillaging or wilful damage.
– Avoid confronting the police. In a context of high tension, any behaviour may be misinterpreted and lead to a violent reaction. Also, in the event of any intervention by the security forces, their repression will be “without discrimination”, and your status as a foreigner will not protect you.
– Never move around at the end of a protest march.
In the event of a protest, it is recommended to change our itinerary. It is better to take a detour than be the victim of a theft, or attack or similar.