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Dilbegim Mavloniy receives her award in Bishkek.

Two RFE/RL journalists covering Kazakhstan have been awarded major journalism prizes by the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) for their "outstanding coverage of human rights issues in Central Asia."

Almaty-based Dilbegim Mavloniy earned the honor for her series of reports on a group of more than 200 Kazakh Muslims seeking asylum in the Czech Republic, which eventually prompted authorities to stop their forced deportation. And Zhasulan Kuzhekov was recognized for his reporting on a string of violent prison riots in Kazakhstan earlier this year.

Kuzhekov, who is based in Astana, reported directly from the scene of a bloody crackdown on a prison riot in Northern Kazakhstan in August in which authorities brought in troops and heavy machinery from the Kazakh army. His reporting received a huge amount of feedback from prisoners' relatives and, according to some Kazakh human rights activists, was responsible for a softening of the tactics used by prison officials.

IWPR handed out the awards in Bishkek on December 10, corresponding to the UN's Human Rights Day. The jury consisted of prominent human rights activists and media experts from Central Asia and the competition was conducted in partnership with the regional office of the United Nations High Commision for Human Rights (UNHCR) and the U.S. Embassy in Tajikstan.

Nazanin Khosravani was arrested in November
The mother of an Iranian journalist held in Tehran's Evin prison has described as a "big misunderstanding" the charge leveled against her daughter of acting against national security, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced earlier this week that Nazanin Khosravani will be tried on a charge of acting against national security.

It was the first time since Khosravani's November 2 arrest that authorities had made public the charges against her.

Khosravani's mother, Azam Afsharian, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda on December 9 that her daughter has not worked for any journalistic organization for the past year and the charges are without foundation.

"This is all a big misunderstanding and I shall hold the chief prosecutor accountable if the court does not drop the charges against her," Afsharian said.

Afsharian says Khosravani has called her only once since her arrest and talked for only one minute. Khosravani said then she was being held in solitary confinement in Branch 209 of Evin prison.

Afsharian said all her subsequent attempts to contact her daughter have failed.

"I consulted the authorities almost every day; writing interminable applications to the prosecutor, but I was not granted a single visit or even a telephone conversation with my daughter," she said.

Afsharian said she has received no new information about her daughter's condition for the past 40 days, and is now extremely worried. She said when she last inquired at the prosecutor's office, one of his assistants taunted her, saying "Let's just hope your daughter is still alive."

Afsharian said Dolatabadi asked her not to agree to any interview with the media if she wants to help her daughter. But she said, "I believe it is my right to do so as I have not received a proper answer from the authorities and this is the only way left for me to convey my message to them."

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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