Clinton: We hold Libyan gov't responsible for violence

Arab League suspends Libya; White House condemns 'appalling' violence in Libya; UNSC demands immediate end to violence.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS, JPOST.COM STAFF
February 22, 2011 23:13
Libya body parts

Libya body parts 520. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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"This violence is completely unacceptable," US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, speaking about bloody anti-government protests that continued to unfold in Libya on Tuesdsay.

"We believe that the government of Libya bears responsibility for what is occurring and must take actions to end the violence," Clinton told reporters at the State Department.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's speech on Tuesday as "very, very frightening," adding that he had declared war on the Libyan people, Reuters reported.

The German chancellor said that if Gaddafi does not end the violence in his country, she would support sanctions against Tripoli, according to the report.

Earlier Tuesday, the Arab League suspended Libya's participation in its council meetings, citing the North African country's crackdown on protesters.

The Arab League “condemns crimes against the current peaceful popular protests and demonstrations in several Libyan cities,” Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters in Cairo today after the group met. He said the security forces’ use of live rounds, heavy weapons and foreign mercenaries is a “grave breach of human rights.”



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The organization calls for “respecting Libyans’ right to freedom of protest and expression” as they demand democratic change, he said. Humanitarian aid must be allowed into the country, the Arab League leader said.

Libya will be barred from taking part in the Arab League’s meetings until leader Muammar Gaddafi responds to the organization’s demands, Moussa said.

The Obama administration also condemned the "appalling" violence in Libya on Tuesday, where security forces are unleashing a bloody crackdown on protesters demanding the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. A top lawmaker said the US should consider imposing new sanctions on the regime and called for foreign energy companies to immediately shut down operations in the oil-rich North African nation.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Gaddafi’s regime to respect the universal rights of its citizens and allow peaceful protests to take place. Echoing earlier White House statements about anti-government protests in Egypt, he said the future of Libya needs to be decided by the Libyan people.

"We offer our condolences to families of the victims in Libya of this appalling violence," Carney told reporters traveling with US President Barack Obama to Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that the violent crackdown was "cowardly" and "beyond despicable." He urged US and international oil companies to immediately suspend their Libyan operations until attacks on civilians stop.

He also called on the Obama administration to consider re-imposing sanctions against Libya that were lifted by former US president George W. Bush after Gaddafi renounced terrorism and abandoned development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. He said Arab League and African Union should investigate reports of atrocities.

"These are concrete steps that must be taken now and in the days ahead to show that the world will respond with actions not just words when a regime wields reprehensible violence against its own people," said Kerry.

The White House has sometimes tapped Kerry to float possible foreign policy strategies Asked about Kerry’s suggestions, Carney said, "We are looking at his proposal but right now we are focusing on ending the bloodshed."

Gaddafi appeared on state television Tuesday and vowed to fight protesters and to die a martyr. Despite eyewitness accounts of soldiers, including alleged mercenaries, opening fire on protesters in numerous cities, he said he had not ordered the demonstrations suppressed with violence. But he said those agitating for change deserved the death penalty under Libyan law.

Citing the unrest and potential for further violence, the State Department on Monday ordered non-essential American diplomats and the families of all workers at the US Embassy in Tripoli to leave Libya. It also urged Americans to stay away from the country and said that US citizens already in Libya should either make plans to depart or seek shelter in a safe place.

UNSC calls for immediate end to violence

The UN Security Council on Tuesday condemned Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's crackdown on anti-government protesters and demanded an immediate end to the violence.

A press statement agreed by all 15 council members expressed "grave concern" at the situation in Libya and condemned the violence and use of force against civilians.

The council called for an "immediate end to the violence" and steps to address the legitimate demands of the Libyan people.

Council members called on the Libyan government "to meet its responsibility to protect its population," to act with restraint, and to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

They called for immediate access for international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies.

The council underlined the need for the Libyan government to respect the rights to peaceful assembly, free expression and press freedom.

The council issued the statement hours after Gadhafi vowed in a television address to keep fighting to his "last drop of blood" and urged his supporters to take to the streets, setting the stage for even more deadly violence.

Libya's deputy UN ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has called for Gadhafi to step down, said the council statement was "not strong enough" but was "a good step to stopping the bloodshed."

He said he had received information that Gadhafi's collaborators have started "attacking people in all the cities in western Libya."



Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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