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UK concerned about death of Bahraini protesters

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 17, IRNA -- Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to his Bahraini counterpart to stress the need for “peaceful action to address the concerns of protestors, the importance of respect for the right to peaceful protest and to freedom of expression.”

“We have conveyed our concerns about these events and the level of violence to the government of Bahrain. We are greatly concerned about the deaths that have occurred,” Hague told MPs Thursday.

'It is also essential that all those injured have immediate access to medical treatment. We urge all sides to avoid violence and the police to exercise restraint,” he said.

During a visit to Bahrain last week, Hague welcomed “many important political reforms” and said that from his meetings with official, he know that “Bahrain intends to build on these in the future.'

In his parliamentary statement, he said Britain had to be careful when giving advice to Bahrain but that it is important that the government continues to make
clear “that political reforms will continue, that economic opportunity will be opened up.'

At his daily briefing, Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman went further in saying “it is essential that Bahrain now takes further steps on reform to meet the aspirations of its people for greater social and political freedom.”

The British foreign secretary also that the Bahraini government should “move quickly to carry out its commitment to a transparent investigation into earlier deaths and extend this to include today's events and any alleged human rights abuses.'

Amnesty International condemned the Bahraini authorities’ forcible eviction of a peaceful protest camp in the centre of the capital Manama that reportedly left at least three and possibly as many as six people dead.

“The Bahraini authorities have again reacted to legitimate protest by using deadly force. They must end their continuing crackdown on activists calling for reform,” Amnesty’s Middle East director Malcolm Smart warned.

Hague declined to answer directly when asked by former Europe minister Denis MacShane if the UK had shipped tear gas to Bahrain, saying that any exports “will be looked at under the strict criteria that we always apply in this country.

Asked if the Arab League could help in the region, he said he had had discussions with the secretary general Amr Moussa, but added that the circumstances differed from country-to-country and the League included nations who were not accommodating of protest.

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