Rights group: Arab Spring exposes bias of the West

Human Rights Watch says the popular uprisings across the Arab world has exposed West governments supporting autocratic rulers for the sake of "stability".

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CAIRO // Popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world exposed biases by Western governments that supported Arab autocratic rulers for the sake of "stability" while turning a blind eye to their repressive policies, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday.

The New-York based group urged democratic governments to adopt persistent and consistent support for peaceful protesters and to press both autocratic rulers and newly emerging democracies to avoid intolerance and seeking revenge.

"The events of the past year show that the forced silence of people living under autocrats should never have been mistaken for popular complacency," HRW's executive director Kenneth Roth said.

"It is time to end the Arab exception."

Western governments also have been accused of being selective in supporting the protesters, with Nato air strikes proving key to deposing Libya's Muammar Qaddafi. Meanwhile, the West has stood largely on the sidelines amid continued crackdowns in Yemen and Syria.

"The people driving the Arab Spring deserve strong international support to realise their rights and to build genuine democracies," Mr Roth said in the group's annual report, which covers 90 countries.