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The families of three Tabriz University students say they have not been able to get any information about their whereabouts or the reason for their arrest on July 17.

Students protesting in Tabriz in May 2006
Saccad Radmehr, Feraz Zehtab, and Aydin Xacei were arrested at the entrance to the university in northern Iran. None have been heard from since their arrest. Aydin Xacei's brother Ramin told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that their home was searched immediately after the arrest. He said his brother was "kidnapped" by police who "did not show any document or order."

Ramin Xacei said he assumes his brother was arrested for his activity on the cultural and language rights of the Azeri minority in Iran. He says that anyone who demands the right to use their own language is "arrested and put in jail." He said his brother has had problems at the university because of his activities before, including being suspended for two semesters.

Saccad Radmehr had been denied the chance to read his thesis for months until a protest campaign by other students, his sister Ilahe said. She said she is now facing disciplinary action at the university herself because of this. She said the pressure on ethnic-Azeri students has increased since the May 2006 protests following a cartoon published by the official "Iran" newspaper depicting ethnic Azeris as cockroaches.
"Azadliq" editor Qanimat Zahid
The trial against Azerbaijani prison officials accused of confiscating the manuscript of a book by a jailed journalist opened in Baku on July 29.

The 300 handwritten pages were seized when Qanimat Zahid, editor in chief of the opposition "Azadliq" newspaper, was transferred from the pretrial detention center to the prison. Zahid's lawyers say prison officials have refused to give the papers back.

A spokesman of the State Penitentiary Service said, "We don't interfere with the prisoners' intellectual activity, but each prison has its own rules and they have to be followed." He said this issue would be resolved in court.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, "Azadliq" deputy editor Azer Ahmedov quoted prison officials as saying the manuscript had been destroyed.

The trial is to resume on August 14.

Zahid is serving a four-year sentence for "aggravated hooliganism" and assault and battery in connection with a 2007 incident in which he was accosted by a stranger.

Zahid's brother, Mirza Sakit, an "Azadliq" correspondent, is currently serving a three-year jail term on similar charges.

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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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