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UK differentiates approach to protests in Bahrain, Libya

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, March 18, IRNA -- The British government is insisting that the situation in Libya and Bahrain are different in an attempt to justify why it is supporting taking military action in one and not the other.

“In Bahrain, the situation is serious and deteriorating, and the whole House (of Commons) will deplore the loss of life and the escalation of violence,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

“We call on all security forces in the country not to use violence against the demonstrators, and on the demonstrators not to engage in provocative or intimidating actions. It is essential for all sides to take steps to calm the situation in Bahrain,” he said.

“We are extremely concerned by reports that opposition figures have been arrested. We do not want to see a reversion to the days when Bahrain routinely held political prisoners,” Hague said during a parliamentary debate on the Middle East on Thursday.

“The government and the security forces must respect the civil rights of peaceful protesters, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and must uphold their obligations to ensure that wounded protesters get immediate access to medical treatment.”

“We also call on opposition groups to enter the dialogue offered by the Bahraini Government and to desist from violence themselves,” he told MPs.

But when asked by veteran Labour MP David Winnick that if the West is already intervening in Libya, why is it not doing the same in Bahrain, Hague said that it was important not to think about the issue in terms of western intervention but the “responsibilities of the wider world, including the Arab world.”

“Any action that appeared to be 'the west' trying to impose itself on these countries would be counter-productive, as has been suggested,” the foreign secretary warned.
He later added that it was also “important not to view Bahrain and Libya as analogous” and that all the circumstances should “not be considered to be analogous.”

“In the case of Bahrain, the government have genuinely offered dialogue with opposition groups and offered a referendum on a new constitution. Colonel Gaddafi is not in the position of offering a referendum to his people on a constitution - he is at the other extreme,” he argued.

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