Britain regrets Bahrain's protest ban

Oct. 31, 2012 at 10:27 AM
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LONDON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The British government said an all-out ban on public demonstrations in Bahrain is "excessive" despite warranted security concerns expressed by the monarchy.

Bahrain's Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa announced Tuesday that the government was committed to upholding basic civil liberties but rallies were banned because that privilege has been abused.

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said his government was "concerned" by the interior minister's announcement.

"We understand the government's concerns about maintaining law and order, especially when faced with increasingly violent protests but a blanket ban of this nature is excessive," he said in a statement. "Peaceful protest is a democratic right."

Bahrain was criticized for its crackdown on opposition protests last year but said it was committed to reforms outlined by an independent commission probing the government's response to the unrest.

Burt called on the Sunni-led government to retract the ban as soon as possible. Protesters who use violence during anti-government campaigns are urged to return to peaceful measures.

"Violent acts should be condemned publicly by prominent members in society," the British minister said.

Bahrain attributed much of the violence to the opposition al-Wefaq movement.

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