The US has imposed new sanctions on Iran for violent suppression of protests and internet shutdowns



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

The White House signaled earlier this week that the United States would take further action against Iran in response to the protests. President Joe Biden issued a statement on Monday pledging “additional costs to those who engage in violence against peaceful protesters.”

The new sanctions target Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees the country’s entire Law Enforcement Force (LEF), which is used to quell protests.

The sanctions also target Communications Minister Eisa Zarepour, who is “responsible for attempting to block the internet access of millions of Iranians in hopes of slowing down the protests,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Five other Iranian officials are also sanctioned, including LEF deputy operations commander Hossein Sajidiniya, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) deputy political commander Yadollah Javani, Iranian Cyber ​​Police chief Mohammad Nasser Majid and other IRGC. Commander Hossein Nejat and Iran’s LEF Police Chief Hossein Rahimi in Tehran.

The sanctions came a day after Amnesty International released a report accusing Iranian security forces of killing 82 people and injuring hundreds in the country’s southeast.

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

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

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

On Monday, Biden also said the U.S. was working to make it easier for Iranians to access the internet, including by “facilitating greater access to secure, external platforms and services,” although officials acknowledged it was struggling to do so.

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

Iran’s security forces killed at least 82 people and injured hundreds of others using live ammunition, metal pellets and tear gas in the southeastern city of Zahedan in Sistan and Baluchistan province, Amnesty International said in a report released on Thursday.

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

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

Amnesty said that the real death toll from Zahedan is likely to be higher, taking into account evidence collected from activists, victims’ families, witness statements, images and videos of the protests.

The total death toll since the protests that began in Iran on September 18 varies between the government, opposition groups, international rights organizations and local journalists. Iran HR, an Iran-based human rights group based in Norway, puts the death toll in Iran at 154 since the protests began. According to the Human Rights Watch organization as of September 31, Iran’s state-affiliated media raised the death toll to 60.



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