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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH HONOURS IRANIAN BLOGGER

Omid Memarian, an Iranian blogger and journalist who was detained and tortured by authorities last year for defending human rights, will be honoured by Human Rights Watch next week as one of three winners of the 2005 Human Rights Defender Awards.

Memarian embodies the new generation of human rights defenders who are pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression in Iran by using the Internet to spread ideas, says Human Rights Watch.

A former journalist with the reformist press, he turned to blogging after the Iranian government launched a massive crackdown in 2001, effectively shutting down all independent newspapers. Memarian's blog - http://www.memarian.info/ - covers social, cultural and civil society issues in Iran.

In October 2004, Memarian and 20 other bloggers were arrested. He was detained in solitary confinement, tortured repeatedly and forced to make false confessions, Human Rights Watch says. Authorities released him in December 2004 following protests from the international community, including Human Rights Watch.

For more information on Memarian and other Iranian bloggers, visit:

- Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/04/04/iran10415.htm
- Torture, Detention and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran: http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/torture/iran/
- Human Rights Overview - Iran: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/13/iran9803.htm
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15343
- OpenNet Initiative: http://www.opennetinitiative.net/studies/iran/
- Iran Watch Canada: http://www.moriab.blogspot.com/

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