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The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is urging Kazakhstan to restore access to RFE/RL's Kazakh-language website.

The call came in a letter to the Kazakh foreign minister from Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE's representative on media freedom.

Access to the site and RFE/RL’s other Central Asian web pages has been blocked for more than five weeks despite requests by RFE/RL to restore the service, provided by state-run KazTelecom.

Haraszti said he was "hopeful" that the problem was merely technical. But he noted that Astana, due to chair the OSCE in 2010, pledged to provide uncensored Internet access as a member of the rights and security organization.

Kazakh officials so far have not publicly commented on the letter.

Shirin Ebadi

The human rights group of 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi of Iran is warning against a "systematic violation" of human rights in the country.

In its annual report, the Defenders of Human Rights Center criticizes the government's treatment of dissidents, journalists, student activists, labour unionists, and women, as well as an increased use of the death penalty.

The group is one of most vocal critics of the human-rights situation in Iran.

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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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