US State Dept condemns May 9 violence and vandalism

During a news briefing on Monday, the US State Department reaffirmed its support for the right to peaceful protest while condemning violent actions, such as vandalism and arson.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller underscored the importance of exercising freedom of speech and expression “in a legitimate manner” when asked about the May 9 riots in Pakistan. “We support legitimate, free expression, including the right to protest, the right to peaceful assembly, and we oppose violent actions, we oppose vandalism, looting, arson,” Miller stated.

Miller urged governments to manage protests by adhering to the rule of law and respecting freedom of expression. Addressing a question about the May 9 riots in Pakistan, he reiterated the United States’ opposition to violence. The riots, which broke out following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, involved protesters attacking military installations, resulting in damages estimated at 1.9 billion rupees.

“We partner with a range of Pakistani civilian institutions and regularly engage the Government of Pakistan to identify opportunities to build capacity and strengthen regional security,” Miller added, emphasising the ongoing cooperation to address local security challenges.

The violent protests on May 9 have drawn comparisons to the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill in the United States. Pakistan’s military has since labelled May 9 as “Black Day” and announced plans to try the protesters under the Army Act.

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