The U.N. Security Council has strongly condemned the violent crackdown on protesters in the North African country of Libya and called for an immediate end to the violence. But as the council issued its statement Tuesday, the Libyan deputy U.N. Ambassador warned that new attacks have begun on civilians in the western part of the country.
In a statement read by Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, whose country holds the council’s rotating presidency this month, the 15-member Security Council called for an immediate end to the violence.
"The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Libya," said Ambassador Ribeiro Viotti. "They condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians. They called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population, including through national dialogue."
The council statement also called on the Libyan government to meet its responsibility to protect its population and demanded that international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies be allowed into the country immediately.
The council also expressed deep concern about the safety of foreign national in Libya and urged the government and other relevant parties to ensure their safety and facilitate the safe departure of those who wish to leave.
Going further, the council also underlined the need for the Libyan government to respect the basic rights of its people, including freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and freedom of the press.
The U.N.’s most powerful body also suggested that there could be repercussions for those behind the violence.
"The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of accountability," said Ribeiro Viotti. "They underscored the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians."
The council and member states were briefed in a closed session by U.N. Political Chief Lynn Pascoe and Libya’s U.N. Ambassador Abd al-Rahman Shalgham.
Earlier, Ambassador Shalgham told reporters that he supports Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who he said is an old friend. But his deputy, Ibrahim Dabbashi, has called for the Libyan leader’s resignation.
Dabbashi told reporters the Security Council’s statement could have been stronger, but was a good message to the government to stop the bloodshed against the Libyan people. He then warned that he had received information following Colonel Gadhafi’s televised speech that the army had begun attacking civilians in several cities in the western part of Libya.
"He [Gadhafi] managed to have some of his colleagues in the army and they gathered some units and now they are attacking the people in all the cities in western Libya," said Dabbashi. "Certainly the people have no arms. And I think the genocide started now in Libya, and I think the Gadhafi statement was just a code for his collaborators to start the genocide against the Libyan people."
Human Rights groups welcomed the council’s statement but urged the body to go further and impose an arms embargo on Libya and a travel ban and asset freeze on senior Libyan officials found responsible for grave human rights violations.