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ASTANA -- The UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association says an independent international investigation into the deadly 2011 events in the Kazakh city of Zhanaozen is needed.

Maina Kiai said at a public hearing in Astana on January 27 that such investigations are needed to restore people's trust in the central government.

Kiai came to Kazakhstan last week and met in Zhanaozen with residents, rights activists, union members, and local officials.

Kazakh police shot dead at least 16 people during a crackdown on an oil worker protest in Zhanaozen in December 2011.

International and domestic rights organizations condemned the action against the protesters, who were demanding the payment of overdue salaries.

Dozens of activists, several police, and local officials were sentenced to prison terms after the deadly crackdown.

But Kazakh civil rights activists say none of those who gave the command to shoot were arrested.

BAKU -- A jailed Azerbaijani human rights activist's social defender and supporter has been attacked in Baku.

Gunay Ismayilova told RFE/RL that an unknown man came up behind her and grabbed her neck as she walked near her apartment block in Baku the night of January 26.

Gunay Ismayilova is one of several "social defenders" of rights activist Rasul Cafarov, whose trial is under way in Baku.

Ismayilova says after being grabbed she immediately pushed backwards and the attacker lessened his grip on her.

As Ismayilova escaped his grasp and screamed, the assailant ran away.

Ismayilova says she does not think the attack was an attempted robbery.

Cafarov, who was arrested in August, has been charged with tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, abuse of office, and forgery.

His supporters say the charges are politically motivated.

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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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