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Lukpan Ahmedyarov, editor of the newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya

ORAL, Kazakhstan -- Four journalists with the Uralskaya Nedelya newspaper in Kazakhstan's western city of Oral have been summoned to a police office and questioned about a video the media outlet posted on Facebook.

The journalists were summoned on June 19 after an Internet user registered on Facebook as Zhan Baizhan posted a comment to the video calling on Kazakhs to take part in rallies planned by the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) for June 23.

RFE/RL correspondent Sanat Orynaliev was also summoned after he interviewed Uralskaya Nedelya's publisher, Tamara Eslyamova, as she was leaving following questioning by police.

Police warned Orynaliev against working for groups that are designated as extremist organizations in Kazakhstan, including DVK. Orynaliev has no connection to DVK.

A day earlier, police summoned several local activists and urge them not to take part in any activities organized by DVK.

DVK was established by former Energy Minister and ex-banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Ablyazov and several other Kazakh opposition figures living abroad announced the creation of the DVK movement in April 2017, saying its goal would be "democratic reforms in Kazakhstan."

In March, a court in Kazakhstan branded DVK an extremist organization and banned its operations in the country.

Ablyazov has called on his supporters in Kazakhstan to hold mass antigovernment rallies across the country on June 23.

An Iranian woman cries at the scene of a public execution in Iran.

Two UN rights experts have called on Iranian authorities to halt the planned execution of a man convicted of killing his teacher at the age of 15.

In a June 19 statement, the experts cited reports suggesting that Mohammad Kalhori will be executed shortly after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

"Iran has committed itself to prohibiting the use of the death penalty for all those under 18 by its ratification of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child," said Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, and Renate Winter, who heads the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

"As such, this execution is unlawful and arbitrary," they added.

Callamard and Winter also noted that in 2013, Iran amended its Penal Code to allow judges to pronounce alternative sentences for juvenile offenders if there was any uncertainty about their "mental development" at the time of the crime, or if they did not fully realize the nature of the crime committed.

They pointed out that Iran's state forensic experts concluded that Kalhori, who was convicted of killing his teacher at the age of 15, was not mentally mature at the time of the crime.

A court initially sentenced Kalhori to prison and a fine, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and he was sentenced to death during a retrial, the experts said

"Notwithstanding the clear prohibition of the application of the death penalty for those under the age of 18, this case demonstrates flagrant disregard for the amendment to the Penal Code itself," Callamard and Winter said.

The UN experts issued their "urgent appeal" a day after the United States and human rights watchdogs condemned Iran's execution of a man who was convicted of killing three police officers.

Iran is one of the world's leading executioners. Amnesty International said in April that 507 people were executed in the country last year, including at least five juvenile offenders.

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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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