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The closure of independent newspapers was a major blow to public awareness of, and discourse on, human rights, but some steps were taken towards the creation of independent local human rights organizations. An Iranian Committee for the Protection of Journalists continued to promote and protect international standards on freedom of expression, but most of the organization's leaders were subsequently imprisoned or facing prosecution for their journalism. The nongovernmental Writers Association publicly criticized attacks on the press and restrictions on freedom of expression, and the Islamic Commission on Human Rights, an official body based within the judiciary, also spoke out against the closure of newspapers and prosecutions of editors and journalists. Mehrangiz Kar, a lawyer and women's rights activist, was arrested in April after making a speech advocating women's rights at the Berlin conference. She was freed on bail after a month. In August, Hassan Youssefi Eshkevari, a religious scholar, was imprisoned on his return from Germany for his advocacy of liberal interpretations of Islam supportive of human rights principles. He had delayed his return from the Berlin conference. He was charged as an apostate and with being corrupt on earth, charges which carry the death penalty.

Access to the country by international human rights observers remained restricted and the U.N. special representative on Iran continued to be denied entry. However, a Human Rights Watch researcher in possession of an Iranian passport was able to visit in April and to meet withofficials, but other Human Rights Watch representatives and those of other nongovernmental organizations were generally not issued visas. The government allowed representatives of a French legal association to visit Iran at the time of the Shiraz trial of Iranian Jews.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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