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Kazakh rights activist Zhanar Sekerbaeva (file photo)

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A gay rights and women's rights activist in Kazakhstan has been fined for taking part in a provocative photoshoot that she says was aimed at raising awareness about a taboo subject in Kazakhstan -- menstruation.

A court in Almaty ruled on August 20 that activist Zhanar Sekerbaeva was guilty on hooliganism charges in connection with the controversial photo shoot. She was ordered her to pay a fine of 12,000 Kazakh tenges, or about $35.

Sekerbaeva, a member of the Kazakhstan-based gay rights and women's rights group Feminita, took part in the August 9 photo shoot on the streets of Almaty -- holding up a drawing of a woman menstruating over a group of traditional nomadic houses known as yurts.

Amnesty International had urged Kazakh authorities on August 16 to "immediately end proceedings" against Sekerbaeva.

Heather McGill, an Amnesty International researcher on Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said the case against Sekerbaeva was "a perfect illustration" of Kazakh authorities’ "intolerance of any views which they do not endorse."

Sekerbaeva was detained on August 15, shortly before she was due to make a presentation in Almaty about her research on HIV and health issues that impact lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender women in Kazakhstan.

German journalist and translator Mesale Tolu (file photo)

An Istanbul court has lifted a travel ban on German journalist Mesale Tolu, who has been held in Turkey on terrorism-related charges, her supporters said early on August 20.

Her support group, called Freiheit fuer Mesale Tolu (Freedom for Mesale Tolu), said, however, that they have been told her husband, Suat Corlu, who is facing similar charges, must remain in Turkey.

A trial for the 33-year-old Tolu, journalist and translator for leftist news agency ETHA, will still be conducted as scheduled on October 16, the group said.

The move reverses a decision in April by an Istanbul court, which had ordered that the travel ban be kept in place until her trial.

She faces charges of terrorist propaganda and membership in the extreme-left MLKP party, which has been designated a terror organization by Turkish authorities. She has claimed "harassment" by the Turkish judicial system.

She was charged in April 2017 along with 17 Turkish defendants.

Tolu, who was born to Turkish parents in Germany, was released from custody on December 18 but had been prohibited from leaving the country. It was not immediately known if she has already left Turkey or was still in the country.

Turkey has made several moves recently to improve relations with Europe, especially Germany, as its ties with the United States have deteriorated.

Washington has imposed sanctions on Turkey and threatened more unless Ankara allowed U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson to leave the country.

Brunson is being tried on espionage and terrorism-related charges that he rejects. He was detained in October 2016 and was moved from detention to house arrest in July.

He faces up to 35 years in prison.

Based on reporting by dpa and DW

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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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