Amnesty Calls for More Reform in Middle East

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Amnesty International has urged governments in the Middle East to provide the kind of reforms their populations want, and it says governments elsewhere should be more supportive of those protesting and dying for freedom.

In a report issued Monday, the London-based human rights group said violence and repression will continue in the Middle East and North Africa if the region's rulers do not ensure democratic and human rights for their people.

Amnesty said governments in the region have not recognized the magnitude of change that people are striving for, and it noted that those demanding change will not be deterred by state violence.

The report said that, in many cases, gains made through the protests and uprisings have not been achieved through laws and constitutional changes, and in some countries — notably Egypt — security forces have been as brutal, if not more than, they were before the revolution.

Amnesty also noted the foreign support for the uprisings in Egypt and Libya and the lack of action on Syria and Bahrain. The group called the international community's response “inconsistent,” adding that it has “failed to grasp the depth of the challenge.”

The report also criticized what it called the “negative role” of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the decisions by Russia and China to block stronger U.N. action on Syria.

Mass uprisings, sparked by the self-immolation of a Tunisian vegetable vendor, swept the Arab world last year and led to the downfall of presidents Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

Amnesty called on those countries to make sure that past abuses are not repeated. The report concluded that despite violence and repression, the refusal of ordinary people “to be deterred from their struggle for dignity and justice is what gives us hope for 2012.”