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Rights Group Warns Of Political Pressure In Iran's Northwest --> (RFE/RL) August 23, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A human-rights group in northwestern Iran claims that state pressure on political activists in the region has increased in recent months.

The Iranian provinces of East and West Azerbaijan are home to many ethnic Azeris.

The Committee To Defend Political Prisoners in Iran's Azerbaijan told Radio Farda that more than 20 Iranian citizens have been jailed by authorities for their political activities.

Group spokesman Alireza Javanbakht said a lack of media attention contributes to rights abuses in Iran's Azerbaijan provinces.

"Unfortunately, in statements that are being issued by human-rights groups, those Azeris who are jailed for political reasons are not being mentioned," Javanbakht said. "The reason is either a lack of access to news developments in [Iranian] Azerbaijan or there are other reasons, including sensitivities. The lack of coverage results in pressure on [political prisoners] and their families. Most of the detainees do not have access to a lawyer."

The Committee To Defend Political Prisoners in Iran's Azerbaijan has issued a list of some 20 political prisoners who it says are facing particular hardship in prison.

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