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Iran's chief prosecutor, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, says 14 men have been arrested and charged over an alleged gang rape at a party near the central city of Isfahan last month, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The men allegedly crashed a party in the city of Khomeini Shahr late last month, locked all the men in a room, and raped the women attending the party.

Colonel Hossein Hosseinzadeh, chief of the police department's detectives bureau in Isfahan, was quoted in Iranian media as saying, "If the women at the party had worn their hijab properly, they might not have been persecuted."

Sociologist Mehrdad Darvishpour told Radio Farda on June 13 that the police are in no position to make such a judgment or to say who is responsible for the crimes.

He said that such comments by a police official send a negative message. "The police blatantly tell women that in the event they are raped, they will have no support," Darvishpour said, "and it tells men that they are allowed to rape any woman whose dress they find 'tempting' and whose hijab is not as the police would like it to be."

The leader of Friday Prayers in Khomeini Shahr also criticized the women who attended the party, saying those who were raped had "provoked" men by "drinking wine and dancing," and adding that their "crimes" should also be investigated.

A "moral security" campaign directed against the "improper" wearing of the hijab was launched in Tehran on June 13.

Police deputy commander Ahmad Reza Radan said that his forces would patrol the city and take action against women who wear tight clothes or whose hair is visible from under their head scarf, as well as those who walk dogs or are guilty of "noise pollution."
Yevhen Zakharov of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union
KYIV -- Ukrainian rights activists have called on "democratic countries" to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian officials that they claim are involved in human rights violations, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Yevhen Zakharov, a member of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union, told RFE/RL on June 10 that a refusal by "democratic countries" to issue visas to Ukrainian officials implicated in infringing human rights, as well as freezing their assets abroad, could help end what he called "human rights violations" and "political persecution" in Ukraine.

"One has to understand that in order to introduce such sanctions it is necessary to have clear evidence that political persecution took place," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition factions in the Ukrainian parliament are preparing their own appeal to Western countries regarding sanctions against government officials.

Taras Steskiv, a Ukrainian parliament deputy and member of the Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense faction, told RFE/RL on June 10 that the final decision on the appeal will be made this week.

According to "Ukrainska Pravda's" website, on the draft list of officials that the opposition wants to have sanctions brought against are the prosecutor-general, several of his subordinates, and a number of judges.

Hanna Herman, an adviser to President Viktor Yanukovych and head of the presidential administration's humanitarian department, compared the opposition initiative to tactics during "fascist times."

Writing in a blog titled "Segregation?" on June 10, Herman said the preparation of "blacklists" of officials who she said displease opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko reminds her of "fascist methods" of segregation for different ethnic groups such as Jews and Roma.

On June 9, the European Parliament issued a resolution that warned Ukraine to stop using criminal law as an instrument of pressure on the opposition.

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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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