Protesters must follow examples of Gandhi, Martin Luther King: UN chief Antonio Guterres

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Published: October 26, 2019 8:23 PM

The UN Secretary-General said the world was witnessing a wave of demonstrations around the world, from the Middle East, Latin America, Caribbean to Europe, Africa and Asia.

UN chief, Antonio Guterres, UN chief Antonio Guterres,  Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, UN chief on gandhi, un chief on protesters, Guterres on gandhi“I am deeply concerned that some protests have led to violence and loss of life. Govts have an obligation to uphold the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly and to safeguard civic space: The UN President.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged protesters around the world to follow the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as he expressed deep concern over protests leading to violence and loss of life and stressed that security forces must act with maximum restraint.

The UN Secretary-General said the world was witnessing a wave of demonstrations around the world, from the Middle East, Latin America, Caribbean to Europe, Africa and Asia. “Disquiet in peoples’ lives is leading to anything but quiet in streets and city squares,” Guterres told reporters here on Friday.

“…I am deeply concerned that some protests have led to violence and loss of life. Governments have an obligation to uphold the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, and to safeguard civic space,” he said. Guterres said the security forces must act with maximum restraint and in conformity with the international law.

“I call on protestors to follow the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and other champions of nonviolent change. There can be no excuse for violence – from any quarter,” he said.

Noting that every situation is unique, Guterres said some protests are triggered by economic issues – including rising prices, persistent inequality or financial systems that benefit elites, while others stem from political demands.

“And in some cases, people are reacting to corruption or different forms of discrimination. Yet there are commonalities that span the continents – and that should force all of us to reflect and respond,” Guterres said.

He said nations have to think about the underlying factors as it is clear that there is a growing deficit of trust between people and political establishments, and rising threats to the social contract. “The world is also wrestling with the negative impacts of globalisation and new technologies, which have increased inequalities within societies,” he said, adding that even where people are not protesting, they are hurting and want to be heard.

“People want a level playing field – including social, economic and financial systems that work for all. They want their human rights respected, and a say in the decisions that affect their lives,” he said.

Strongly urging global leaders to listen to the real problems of people, Guterres said the world needs action and ambition to build fair globalization, strengthen social cohesion and tackle the climate crisis. “Those are precisely the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. With solidarity and smart policies, leaders can show they ‘get it’ – and point the way to a more just world,” he said.

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