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Bahrain Protest Ban – US concerned, Mr. Toner had no idea if Bahrain Government had been briefed

Excerpt – Press Briefing US Department of State

Mark C. Toner
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 31, 2012


1:34 p.m. EDT

MR. TONER: Good afternoon. Happy Halloween. I’d like to say the reason we’re late is because I was getting into my elaborate costume, but clearly, unless you count a middle-aged bureaucrat a costume –

QUESTION: I thought it was a little Dr. Evil. (Laughter.)

MR. TONER: In any case, welcome to the State Department. And it’s good to see you all. I hope everyone made it through the storm more or less intact and that your homes and your families are safe. Certainly it was a suspenseful couple of days, but welcome back.

Just at the top, I do want to note that the United States is deeply concerned by the Bahraini Government’s decision to ban all public gatherings. Freedoms of assembly, association, and expression are universal human rights. We urge the Government of Bahrain to uphold its international commitments and ensure that its citizens are able to exercise – are able to assemble peacefully and to express their views without fear of arrest or detention. We urge the Government of Bahrain to work with responsible protest leaders to find a way for peaceful and orderly demonstrations to take place. The decision to curb these rights is contrary to Bahrain’s professed commitment to reform, and it will not help advance the national reconciliation nor build trust among all parties.

We also urge the opposition to refrain from provocations and violence. Violence undermines efforts to reduce tensions, rebuild trust, and pursue meaningful reconciliation in Bahrain. Recent violent attacks, including fatal attacks, on security force personnel are a deeply troubling development. So we urge the Government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society and to begin a meaningful national dialogue with the political opposition.

With that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Just on that —

MR. TONER: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: — before we move onto Syria. This has been made – this position, your views have been made clear to the Government of Bahrain directly? Is that correct?

MR. TONER: Matt, I’m not sure at what level we’ve communicated these to the Government of Bahrain.

QUESTION: They’re not just hearing this from you right now?

MR. TONER: They’re not just hearing this from me, no. But I’m not sure at what level – I’m not sure whether through our —

QUESTION: Well, was it there, here?

MR. TONER: — embassy or bilaterally. I’ll have to check on that.


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