Arab League suspends Libya as deadly crackdown persists
At least three Muslim countries joined a call for the UN's premier human rights body to hold an urgent probe into the violence by Libyan security forces against peaceful protesters.
The Arab League on Tuesday suspended Libya from its sessions in light of a violent crackdown on anti-government protests, Qatari news network Al Jazeera reported.
The decision came at an emergency meeting held by the Arab League in Cairo to discuss the situation in Libya.
Earlier on Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa spoke of "Arab anger about what is happening to civilians in Libya."
The announcement came after Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi gave a televised speech saying he had no intention of stepping down and that "any use of force against the authority of the state will be sentenced to death."
Libya's representative to the League Abdel-Moneim al-Honi resigned from his post on Sunday in protest against the crackdowns, which have reportedly left hundreds of people dead.
Meanwhile at least three Muslim countries joined a call for the UN's premier human rights body to hold an urgent meeting on the situation in Libya.
Jordan, Qatar and the Maldives were among the 16 signatories needed to call an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday, according to a list obtained by The Associated Press.
The decision to convene an urgent meeting on Libya is unusual for the Geneva-based council as it rarely votes to scrutinize the record of its own members. Libya has a seat on the 47-nation body.
It comes after the UN's top human rights official called Tuesday for an international probe into the violent crackdown by Libyan security forces against peaceful protesters.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said widespread and systematic attacks against the civilians in the North African country may amount to crimes against humanity. Her office said more than 250 people have been killed in Libya in recent days.
Britain led the move to hold a special session of the council, gaining support from a broad range of countries including the United States, Brazil and the European Union.
In the past, Muslim countries have been reluctant to add their names to such calls except when the country facing scrutiny was Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the Libyan leader's violent attacks against his people and said that "the United States continues to watch the situation in Libya with alarm."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost and their loved ones, and we join the international community in strongly condemning the violence, as we've received reports of hundreds killed and many more injured. This bloodshed is completely unacceptable. It is the responsibility of the government of Libya to respect the universal rights of their own people, including their right to free expression and assembly," Clinton said.
"The United States is also gravely concerned by reports of violence in Yemen and elsewhere. We urge restraint and for the governments in the region to respect the rights of their people," Clinton added.
The eruption of turmoil in the capital after a week of protests and bloody clashes in Libya's eastern cities has sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi, and his regime has been hit by a string of defections by ambassadors abroad and even some officials at home. His security forces have unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.
Protesters, meanwhile, gathered at some Libyan embassies around the world, including those in Sweden and Serbia. In Stockholm, they were allowed into the embassy, where they raised the flag of the monarchy that was toppled by Muammar Gadhafi's military coup in 1969.