Obama urges Bahrain king to respect `universal rights`

A Bahraini military court sentenced four Shiite protesters to death.

Washington: US President Barack Obama
urged Bahrain`s monarch to respect "universal rights of the
people", two days after the tiny Gulf state sentenced several
protesters to death.

US officials have criticised Bahrain over the speed of
a trial in which Shiite pro-democracy protesters were
sentenced to death and life in prison for killing two

In his telephone conversation with King Hamad, Obama
yesterday said the United States "believes that Bahrain`s
stability depends upon respect for the universal rights of the
people of Bahrain, and a process of meaningful reform that is
responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis," the White
House said in a statement.

Bahrain, headquarters for the US Fifth Fleet
responsible for US naval forces in the region, was hit by
protests from mid-February to mid-March amid a broader revolt
roiling across the Arab world.

A Bahraini military court on Thursday sentenced four
Shiite protesters to death and three to life in prison for the
killing of two policemen at a crackdown on a rally.

Bahraini authorities have come under strong criticism
from international rights organisations over a heavy-handed
crackdown on protesters from the Shiite-majority community in
the kingdom that is ruled by a Sunni dynasty.


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