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Police in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, have taken two young opposition activists into custody and transferred them to military recruiting stations, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Both Ivan Shyla of the Youth Front movement and Franak Vyachorka of the Belarusian People's Party had medical deferrals that exempted them from military service. The deferrals were suddenly reversed.

Belarusian Helsinki Committee Chairman Aleh Hulak told RFE/RL that the incident could be classified as an illegal arrest.

Hulak said the secret services should not be involved in army recruiting, and activists were supposed to get letters telling them to report to military recruiting stations, which was not the case.

Yuras Hubarevich, a Belarusian opposition politician, told RFE/RL that officials are simply removing the two activists from society.
Shirin Ebadi
More than 120 political and social activists whose judicial cases were handled by Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and her colleagues at the Center of Human Rights Defenders have expressed concern over the closure of the center in Tehran, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The center was closed in late December.

The activists signed an open letter calling on Iran's judiciary to review the case as soon as possible.

One signatory to the letter, student activist Bahareh Hedayat, told Radio Farda that the closure of the human rights center is part of a government crackdown to silence critics ahead of June's presidential election.

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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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