Obama Calls Bloodshed In Libya "Outrageous," "Unacceptable"
President Obama strongly condemned the ongoing violence against opposition protesters in Libya Wednesday, reminding the country to respect its citizens' rights — and urging the country's regime not to hinder humanitarian groups' attempts to help the wounded.
Extending condolences to the loved ones of those hurt or killed in the violence, Obama said:
The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.
The United States also strongly supports the universal rights ofthe Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly,free speech and the ability of the Libyan people to determine theirown destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable.
Obama also said that his administration is preparing a "full range" of options to deal with the situation.
The president said that the range of options "includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners or those that we'll carry out through multilateral institutions" — a reference to what we would assume are potential international peacekeeping missions.
Speaking at the White House and flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama said that "the whole world is watching" what is happening in Libya. And he announced that he is sending Clinton on a trip to Geneva to meet with other foreign ministers for a session of the Human Rights Council.
And while saying that Libya presents an "urgent situation," Obama also said that the international community must also keep an eye on events in Egypt and Tunisia, to ensure that those nations move into stable representative governments.
In the final two paragraphs of Obama's speech, he spoke about the wider picture in the Middle East, one that has been changing at a dynamic pace in recent weeks:
So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn't represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life. As one Libyan said, "We just want to be able to live like human beings."
We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice and stand up for the dignity of all people.
Obama did not mention Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi by name in his speech Wednesday. One day earlier, Gadhafi delivered a defiant rant on state television, in which he swore that he would not give in to the opposition's demands that he leave power.
The president's speech came on the same day that Libya's opposition movement began to form a provisional government in the eastern section of the country.
And earlier Wednesday, Libyans rallied at the United Nations building in New York City. NPR's Robert Smith reports that they carried signs condemning the Libyan leader Gadhafi and calling on President Obama to take action.
And in the afternoon, the U.N. Development Program announced that it was removing Gadhafi's daughter as a goodwill ambassador. A spokesman for the international group said that Aisha al-Gadhafi, a law professor, had served since 2009 as a goodwill envoy to focus on fighting poverty, HIV/AIDS and violence against women.