World News

U.N. boss, after China riots, defends right to protest

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives next to World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy (R) at the WTO headquarters in Geneva July 6, 2009. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asked about rioting in China in which at least 140 people are reported killed, urged governments on Monday to respect their people’s right to protest.

Ban said the position of the United Nations and his own were “consistent and clear” wherever violence emerges.

“All the differences of opinion, whether domestic or international, must be resolved peacefully through dialogue,” Ban told a news conference in Geneva when he was asked about the rioting in the capital of China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.

“Governments concerned also must exercise extreme care and take necessary measures to protect the life and safety of civilian populations, and their citizens and also protect the properties and the freedoms of speech, assembly and information,” he said.

“This is the basic principle of democracy. That’s what I am urging again to all the countries of the world.”

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Richard Balmforth