US imposes new sanctions on Iran for violent crackdown on protests and internet shutdown


Washington
CNN

The United States imposed sanctions on seven senior Iranian officials on Thursday over the Iranian government’s violent crackdown on mass protests and restrictions on internet access in the country.

The mass protests in Iran resulted in the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was arrested by the country’s morality police on September 13 for violating the country’s conservative dress code.

The White House indicated that the US would take further measures against Iran over its response to the protests earlier this week. President Joe Biden appeared on Monday to order more charges against “perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new sanctions announced by the US on Thursday reflect Iran’s “continuing to fight against the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including shutting down access to the Internet” after Amini’s death.

Blinken said the continued costs the Biden administration is imposing on Iran show the United States’ support for Iranian women who have been protesting for their rights.

“Today’s actions following the September 22 appointment of the Morality Police, its senior leadership and other senior security officials, and the release of the Iran-related D-2 General Authorization, show that the United States stands with its brave citizens and courageous citizens. The brave women of Iran, right now who are demonstrating there to guarantee their basic rights,” said Blinken.

The new sentence comes after Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, oversees all of the country’s law enforcement agencies that have been used to try to suppress the protests.

The sanctions also target Communications Minister Eisa Zarepour, who is “responsible for the disgraceful attempt to block the internet access of millions of Iranians in an attempt to slow protests,” the Treasury Department statement said.

Five other Iranian officials are also being punished, including LEF Deputy Operations Commander Hossein Sajedinia, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Deputy Political Commander Yadollah Javani, Iran’s Cyber ​​Police Chief Mohammad Naser Majid, another IRGC. Commander Hossein Nejat and Iran’s LEF police chief in Tehran Hossein Rahimi.

The sentences came the same day Amnesty International released a report alleging that Iranian security forces killed 82 people and injured hundreds of others in the southeast of the country.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests of persons located in the United States or owned or controlled by U.S. persons must be frozen and reported” to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Treasury Department said. the states

“The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are essential to guaranteeing individual liberty and dignity,” Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson said in a press release. “The United States condemns the Iranian government’s continued internet shutdown and violent suppression of peaceful protests, and will not hesitate to target those who direct and support these actions.”

Last month, the Treasury Department introduced sanctions against Iran’s moral police for “abuse and violence against Iranian women and violations of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters.”

Biden also said Monday that the U.S. was working to make it easier for Iranians to access the Internet “as well as facilitate greater access to secure platforms and services,” although officials acknowledged the difficulty of doing so.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Biden referred to the protests against Amini’s death and said the United States “stands with the brave women of Iran who are demonstrating right now for their basic rights.”

Iranian security forces have killed at least 82 people and injured hundreds in the southeastern city of Zahedan in Sistan and Balochistan province after firing live ammunition, metal balls and tear gas amid a crackdown on protests in the region, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Abdullah Aref, an organizer of the Campaign for Baloch Activists (Faaleen) in Zahedan, told CNN on Saturday that people were protesting the alleged rape of a Baloch girl by a police officer when security forces opened fire on the protesters, at which point the protesters opened fire. the police station

Zahedan is a city in the Sistan and Balochistan province adjacent to Pakistan, inhabited by the Baloch ethnic minority. The region has a history of unrest and violence with armed groups carrying out attacks on Iranian security personnel.

According to Amnesty, the actual death toll in Zahedan, based on evidence gathered from activists, victims’ families, eyewitness accounts and footage and video from the protests, is likely to be higher.

The total number of people killed since protests began across Iran on September 18 is based on the government, opposition groups, international rights organizations and local journalists. A Norway-based Iran-based human rights group, IranHR, put the death toll at 154 since the protests began across Iran. Human Rights Watch said on September 31, Iranian state media put the death toll at 60.