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U.S., UN Criticize Bahrain's Repression Of Shi'a, Stalled Reforms

The United States and a United Nations special adviser sharply criticized Bahrain for repressing Shi'a and revoking the citizenship of the Gulf state's top Shi'ite leader.

Adama Dieng, the UN special adviser on genocide, warned on June 22 that the country faces "a critical moment," as the U.S. State Department concluded that the government's efforts to improve human rights have stalled.

"It is now even more crucial for the authorities and for all relevant parties to recommit to an inclusive national dialogue in the interest of all people of Bahrain," Dieng said.

Bahrain's decision on June 20 to strip Ayatollah Isa Qassem of his citizenship prompted an outpouring of citizen protest and warnings from Tehran that it could provoke an armed uprising.

Dieng said the government should "ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is fully respected and that any response to the protests is in accordance with Bahrain's obligations under international human rights law."

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby concurred, saying, "We are concerned that the intensified crackdown on civil society actors will only lead to greater instability and strengthen the influence of outside actors."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP