The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against seven Iranian security and moral police officials Thursday for allegedly violating the rights of women, civil society activists and peaceful protesters.
The new sanctions target the Chief of Iran’s Moral Police, Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi, and the Director of Iran’s Moral Police for the Tehran region, Haj Ahmad Mirzaei. Mirzaei has reportedly been temporarily removed from office following protests over the death of a young Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini while in the custody of her troops.
Amini, 22, was pronounced dead in hospital on September 16 after being detained for three nights at the Tehran moral detention center, where she was allegedly tortured for not wearing the hijab properly.
The US sanctions also targeted Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib, Deputy Commander of Basij Forces Salar Abnoush, Deputy Commander of the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Qasem Rezaei, LEF Provincial Commander Manouchehr Amanollahi and Iranian Army Ground Forces Commander Kiyumars Heidari.
“These officials oversee organizations that routinely use violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists and members of Iran’s Baha’I community,” the Treasury said in a statement Thursday. 9).
Under the sanctions, all of their property and assets held in the US will be blocked and any financial transactions with them, whether in the US or abroad, are prohibited.
“The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about positive changes in behavior.” [mereka],” added the US Treasury statement.
Dozens of other Iranian officials, entities and individuals have been subject to US sanctions for a variety of reasons, from alleged support for terrorism to nuclear weapons to human rights abuses.
Amini’s death has sparked widespread protests across Iran and in several cities around the world.
Several protesters have reportedly been killed in Iran in recent days, while dozens of women’s rights activists have been arrested.
Shouting slogans such as “overthrow the dictatorship” and “freedom for women,” some protesters appeared to be removing their headscarves in defiance of Iran’s mandatory veiling law.
Iranian officials have labeled the protesters “rebels” and backed by “the enemies of Iran,” a tacit reference to the US and Israel at odds with the Iranian government over security and nuclear issues.
“The Iranian government must stop its systemic persecution of women and allow peaceful demonstrations,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement Thursday. “The United States will continue to voice our support for human rights in Iran and hold those who violate them accountable.”
Similar demonstrations also took place. In 2019, thousands of Iranians went on strike across the country to protest the economic hardships they face and demand greater social and political independence. [rd/jm]