Clinton: Egypt Must Respect Citizen Rights, Reform

January 28, 2011 - 3:19 PM

Washington (AP) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday appealed for Egyptian authorities to respect the rights of their citizens amid a crackdown on swelling anti-government protests, and urged them to heed demands for political and economic reform.

Speaking as street demonstrations rocked Egypt's capital despite a curfew, Clinton urged calm on both sides and said the government must investigate and prosecute any allegations of brutality by security forces. She also called on Egypt to restore access to the Internet and social media sites that have been blocked.

"We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters, and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces," Clinton told reporters at the State Department. "At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully."

"We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communication," she said. "These protests underscore that there are deep grievances within Egyptian society, and the Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."

Clinton said that reform "is absolutely critical to the well-being of Egypt" and urged the longtime U.S. ally to "engage immediately" with opposition groups and others to enact broad economic, political and social reforms. She said the Obama administration had raised repeatedly with Egypt the "imperative for reform and greater openness."