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Yermek Narymbaev
OSKEMEN, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh opposition activist has been amnestied after spending more than 1 1/2 years in jail on charges of resisting authority.

Yermek Narymbaev, leader of the Arman (Dream) movement, was sentenced in June 2010 to four years in prison after he was arrested at a protest calling on President Nursultan Nazarbaev to resign.

The Kazakh Bureau for Human Rights told RFE/RL that Narymbaev would be released in 15 days.

Last week, prominent Kazakh human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis was granted amnesty.

The amnesties have taken place as Nazarbaev this week made an official visit to Germany, during which deals worth more than $4 billion were signed.

It was Nazarbaev's first visit to the West since clashes between security forces and oil workers in the Kazakh town of Zhanaozen left at least 16 people dead in December.
A 10-year-old boy works at a brick factory on the outskirts of Kabul. (file photo)
A new International Labor Organization (ILO) assessment says that half of the workforce in Afghan brick kilns are children under the age of 14.

The ILO report details brick-making as one of the worst forms of child labor, where children work in a slavish cycle of debt that is almost impossible to escape.

Though both child labor and so-called bonded work are illegal in Afghanistan, children as young as 5 produce hundreds of bricks a week for a few dollars to pay off family debts, which only swell the longer they work there.

Poor health from harsh working conditions, reliance on shelter and electricity provided by brick employers and denied education mean brick makers are tied to their work.

The United Nations estimates that almost 2 million children in Afghanistan are in full or part-time work.

With agency reports

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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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