UN's Ban: intimidation and restrictions to media and human rights in Egypt is 'outrageous'

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an immediate end to "the intimidation and restrictions on the international media and human rights groups" in Egypt’s current turmoil, describing it as "outrageous."

Talking to reporters after meeting with German President Christian Wulff in Berlin, Ban said the two "share particular concern" at the intimidation and restrictions.

"Let me be absolutely clear," Ban said. "This is outrageous and totally unacceptable. It must stop now. Respecting freedom of expression and assembly as well as information is a crucial and essential part of democratic values. I once again strongly urge the Egyptian authorities to listen to the voices of the people and immediately start real change."

In addition, Ban said the UN stood ready to help the Egyptian authorities and people in whatever way it can when they begin their transition and changes, including elections.

"We have seen that there were many world leaders who have been expressing their concerns and very genuine advice, sincere advice, to the Egyptian authorities to make the necessary reforms reflecting the genuine wishes and concerns expressed so far by the people," Ban stated.

Previously, at an earlier news conference in London, Ban pledged UN support for the "bold reforms" needed to meet the people's aspirations in the Middle East.

Ban, who has already called for a speedy transition in Egypt, where hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have been demanding the immediate resignation of President Mubarak for more than a week, reiterated his call to all sides to exercise restraint in the current turmoil.

"We should not underestimate the danger of instability across the Middle East," he said. "The United Nations stands ready to support the bold reforms that are needed to meet the people’s aspirations."

Furthermore, the Secretary-General stressed that freedom of speech of peaceful demonstrators or journalists should be fully protected as "a ground principle of democracy," adding that "the government should listen very attentively to the wishes of people. This is the beginning point."

Ban reiterated his call that a peaceful transition should begin now, but Mubarak on Tuesday announced that he intended to serve out the remainder of his term but would not seek re-election in September.


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