UN rights chief slams `illegal` response to protestors

Last Updated: Saturday, February 19, 2011 - 00:08

Geneva: The UN human rights chief on Friday
condemned the response of security forces against protestors
in the Middle East and North Africa as "illegal and
excessively heavy-handed".

"The nature and scope of the human rights violations
taking place in several countries in the region in response to
those who are largely demonstrating peacefully for their
fundamental human rights and freedoms, is alarming," said UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

In the statement issued by her office, the UN rights
chief "condemned as illegal and excessively heavy-handed the
response of a number of governments in the Middle East and
North Africa to the legitimate demands of their people".

She noted that protestors had been killed in recent
weeks in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, and
that security forces were targeting their violence on certain
professions.

"Particularly egregious are the targeted attacks on
journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and even, in the
case of Bahrain, doctors and medical personnel attending to
injured protestors," she said.

"The reported use of plainclothes security officials
against opposition protestors is very worrying," added the UN
official.

Pillay assessed that the root causes of the unrest has
been the deprivation of the population`s basic rights and
freedoms.

"The people of the Middle East and North Africa cannot
be denied these basic freedoms.

"The protestors` calls for justice, respect for
personal freedoms and human rights, for legal and political
reforms in this regard, are reasonable and legitimate," said
Pillay.

"Governments need to be responsive. By resorting to
oppressive security measures, they will only foment more
frustration, more anger, more instability, which is certainly
not in the national interest," she warned.

"The Middle East and North Africa region is boiling
with anger," observed the UN rights chief.

A popular uprising which began in Tunisia and drove
out president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last month has since
swept into Egypt and led to the downfall of president Hosni
Mubarak.

Revolts have now reached other Arab countries like
Bahrain and Libya, where fatalities are mounting as
authorities move to crack down on protests.

A group of UN independent experts on human rights also
issued a separate statement today, saying they were "alarmed
and shocked" by the death toll.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011 - 00:08

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