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A petrochemical plant in Khuzestan Province
The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Iranian authorities have detained more than 65 Arab residents of Iran as part of alleged "security sweeps" in Iran's Arab-majority Khuzestan Province since late 2011.

In a statement, HRW calls on Iranian authorities to investigate the reported deaths of two of the detainees in Intelligence Ministry facilities.

Joe Stork, Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch, called on Iranian authorities to immediately explain the reasons for the arrests, give detainees access to family members and lawyers, and bring all detainees promptly before a judge.

Human Rights Watch says members of the large Arab population of oil-rich Khuzestan have long complained about the lack of socioeconomic development in the region.

They allege that Tehran has systematically discriminated against them.
Oksana Makushina
Kazakh police interrogated the deputy editor of an opposition newspaper and raided its offices in Almaty over her support for an arrested journalist.

The weekly paper "Golos Respubliki" (Voice of Republic) issued a press release saying security forces confiscated computers and equipment from its offices on February 2 and summoned its deputy editor, Oksana Makushina, to the National Security Committee twice -- on February 1-2.

It said Makushina was questioned regarding a press conference she held on January 30 calling for the immediate release of Igor Vinyavsky, the editor of the Almaty-based "Vzglyad" newspaper.

Vinyavsky has been detained for two months while investigations are being launched into allegations that he was involved in deadly clashes between police and striking oil workers in the country's southwest in December.

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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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