Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the lifting of the state of emergency in Bahrain, which has witnessed a violent crackdown by the Government against protesters demanding reform, as well as the call made by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa for a national dialogue to begin on 1 July.
“The Secretary-General hopes that such a dialogue will be genuine and meaningful and lead to an inclusive reform process aimed at meeting the political, economic and social aspirations of all Bahraini people,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
“In this regard, he appeals to all national stakeholders to work constructively towards creating a conducive environment for such a dialogue to take place,” the statement added.
Bahrain is one of several nations in the Middle East and North Africa that has been rocked this year by protests calling for increased freedoms and democratic reforms.
The Government’s crackdown on protesters – which has reportedly killed 20 people – has drawn criticism from UN officials, including Mr. Ban and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, both of whom have urged maximum restraint and called for inclusive dialogue with all parties.
Mr. Ban reiterated his call on the Bahraini authorities and the security forces “to act in accordance with relevant international norms and standards with regard to human rights and fundamental freedoms.”