United Nations, Feb 18 (IANS) Condemning the crackdown on anti-government protesters in Bahrain, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked authorities to respect human rights as the present situation in the country “calls for bold reforms, not repression”.
“The reports from Bahrain overnight are deeply troubling, here as elsewhere, violence should not be used against peaceful demonstrators and against journalists,” Ban told reporters.
Five protesters have died in recent clashes with the police at the iconic Pearl Square roundabout in the Gulf country’s capital of Manama, Xinhua reported.
Other reports said three people were killed when police cracked down on sleeping protesters in Bahrain capital, an action that led to a minister reportedly quitting.
The pre-dawn attack took place when the protesters were asleep at Pearl Roundabout, the focal point for demonstrators seeking reform in the country that has a constitutional monarchy.
Ban said: “I am disturbed by all these violent means of trying to disperse demonstrators.”
“In responding to peaceful protest, authorities have an obligation to respect human rights. There should be no violence from any quarter. I urge all parties to exercise restraint,” the UN chief said, adding that he will be reaching out to leaders in the region to reiterate that message.
“The situation calls for bold reforms, not repression. Sustainable progress can take root in places where people are empowered, where governments are responsive, where growth is inclusive,” he said.
The protests began in Bahrain this week following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, 82, in Egypt. The Egypt uprising not only brought an end to Mubarak’s 30-year rule, but also inspired copycat protests in Yemen, Iran and Libya.