It seems that JFK’s quote:” Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” doesn’t hold much traction with the powers that are among these countries without freedom of assembly. Still, the lid on boiling political situation can be kept by force for only so long and usually ends in violence and bloodshed, a lesson demonstrated so many times throughout human history, but yet to be learned by the autocratic regimes worldwide.
The freedom of assembly, together with the freedom of association, is one of the essential civil and political rights. The right of people to publicly protests the government and its action has been enshrined in the United States Constitution by the Founding Fathers and is considered a basis for political activism. Many of the countries today, including those on our list, have similar provisions in their constitutions, but not all of them apply them. Attacks on freedom of assembly are usually expected from Countries Without Freedom of Speech or Press, but what is more concerning is that even some countries claiming to be democratic have recently passed laws that make protesting the government quite hard, if not downright illegal. The latest examples include Spain, Quebec, Turkey and Western Australia, which are inches away from appearing on some future itineration of this list.
Freedom of assembly in Spain has been under attack by the passing of the law that allows harsh monetary penalties for unauthorized protests, including taking pictures of police during one. Quebec, faced with students’ demonstrations, has gone a similar route and Turkey has gone one step beyond. In an effort to completely prevent any anti-government (or to be more precise anti-Erdogan protests) they have passed a law allowing the police to enter the homes of protestors and stipulating that wearing a mask during the protest or even chanting certain slogans is a crime carrying years in prison as a sentence.
The United States also has a bleak record when it comes to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter protests, with designated free speech zones and making protests near government buildings a federal crime.
This worldwide attack on freedom of assembly seems almost coordinated. There’s hardly a region in the world unaffected by it. The governments are trying to actively suppress each and every form of protest, seemingly without thinking about the consequences and what will happen if they make all protesting illegal. This, of course, provides material for all sort of conspiracy theories.
In order to create the list of 11 countries without freedom of assembly, we consulted Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2017 report. We went over it and picked some of the worst offenders. If you happen to travel to any of these countries, stay away from all public gatherings, because you might end up in jail, or worse.