Libya 'must allow peaceful protests': rights group
Human rights group Amnesty International called on the Libyan government Wednesday "to end its clampdown on peaceful political activists" as protests gained momentum in the North African country.
"The Libyan authorities must allow peaceful protests, not try to stifle them with heavy-handed repression," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"Libyans have the same rights as Egyptians and Tunisians to express discontent and call for reform in their own country," added the statement, released from Amnesty's headquarters in London.
"It is high time the Libyan government recognized that and respected it.
"People should not be locked up simply because they call for peaceful protests. Libyans have a right to expect reforms, not arrests, detentions and further state repression," Smart concluded.
Thirty-eight people were injured in clashes late Tuesday and early Wednesday in the country's second city, Benghazi, on the eve of a nationwide "Day of Anger" called by cyber-activists, according to a local hospital.
Security forces used tear gas and water cannon to split up clashes between supporters of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and protesters who hope to emulate revolts in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia.
© 2011 AFP