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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has denounced the arrest of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Ten Iranian Intelligence Ministry officials raided Sotoudeh's home and office on August 28 and confiscated files and personal belongings. They also told her to appear at the prosecutor's office at Evin prison on charges of "collusion against national security" and "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic regime." She was arrested when she went to the prosecutor's office on September 4.

Sotoudeh had represented a number of political prisoners who were taken into custody during the unrest that followed the disputed June 2009 presidential election.

In a September 7 statement, RSF said that "Sotoudeh has for the past year been the spokesperson of victims of injustice, of those the regime is trying to silence.... By arresting lawyers, the regime is trying to gag the last dissenting voices."

Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, told Radio Farda on September 5 that he and his wife's lawyer went to Evin prison to inquire about her and were told that the order for her detention is valid indefinitely. Khandan added that he was told that he may neither visit his wife nor talk to her by telephone.

In its statement, RSF asked lawyers' organizations throughout the world to demand Sotoudeh's immediate release.
Sima Samar: Peace process could be a "prison" for women.
The head of Afghanistan's independent Human Rights Commission says that any peace talks with Islamic insurgents must be held in a way that does not "undermine human rights and justice" under the "pretext of peace efforts," RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Commission chairman Sima Samar told RFE/RL on September 7 that any peace process that does not represent the people of Afghanistan, especially its women, will not "last long."

Samar said her commission sent a list of women to the Afghan government who it recommends be chosen as members of a High Council for Peace that was announced by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on September 5.

Samar said, "I hope that they would select [those women] to take part in the potential peace talks [with the Taliban]." She said if women are "ignored and disrespected" then it would be a "prison for them" rather than a peace process.

The High Council for Peace was first proposed during the Kabul Peace Jirga on June 2. Afghan delegates at that time agreed to form the council, which would be responsible for trying to reach out to Taliban insurgents.

Karzai spokesperson Siamak Herawi told RFE/RL by phone that the council would have nearly 60 members, including Afghan women. Herawi added that the names of the members of the council would be announced in the coming weeks. It is expected to include "Jihadi leaders, influential figures, and women."

Karzai called the establishment of the council "a significant step toward peace talks." Taliban leaders have thus far rejected the idea of holding talks with the government as long as foreign troops are in Afghanistan.

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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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