US imposes new sanctions on Iranian officials for crackdown on protests


The United States on Wednesday imposed a series of new sanctions on Iranian officials involved in the ongoing crackdown on nationwide protests in Iran – the latest US response to Tehran’s efforts to quell outrage over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini .

« It has been 40 days since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the so-called ‘morality police’, and we join her family and the people of Iran in a day of mourning and reflection. » , said Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“The United States is committed to supporting the people of Iran and ensuring that those responsible for the brutal suppression of ongoing nationwide protests in Iran are held accountable,” Blinken said. “Today we are announcing a joint action between the Departments of State and Treasury designating 14 individuals and three entities using five different authorities, demonstrating our commitment to using all appropriate tools to hold all levels of government to account. Iranian ».

Wednesday’s Treasury Department sanctions target the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence organization and the IRGC’s deputy operations commander, as well as two officials from Sistan and Balochistan province, « site of some of the worst violence in the latest round of protests ». “, said the agency in a separate sanction.

The Treasury Department has also sanctioned numerous Iranian prison officials, including Hedayat Farzadi, the warden of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

In addition to sanctions related to the crackdown on protesters, the Treasury Department also named two Iranians and the school they founded – Ravin Academy – which « trains individuals in cybersecurity and hacking », as well as Samane Gostar Sahab Pardaz Private Limited Company, “one of the leading operators of social media filtering services in Iran,” the Treasury Department said.

« Ravin Academy-trained hackers have been involved in directly disrupting the communication of those protesting the Iranian regime, » Blinken said.

The State Department has sanctioned “Iranian Commander and Police Chief of Isfahan Province, Mohammed Reza Mirheydary…for his involvement in gross human rights violations, namely cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment or degrading inflicted on peaceful protesters during the November 2021 protests in Isfahan, Iran,” Blinken said. « Due to today’s action, Mirheydary is not eligible to enter the United States. »

The senior US diplomat also announced that the United States was imposing sanctions « on two individuals and one entity implicated in extrajudicial executions, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in Iran » – Bushehr prison, which « would have been the site of several human rights violations », Mohammed Reza Ostad, « the director of this establishment while gross human rights violations produced there »; and Mohammed Reza Mirheydary, « the commander and chief of the police forces of the province of Isfahan ».

The Biden administration has unveiled a series of measures aimed at punishing the regime for its suppression of the Iranian people and attempting to support protesters.

At the end of September, the United States announced sanctions against the Iranian morality police following the death of Amini in their custody.

In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it was sanctioning the vice squad « for abuse and violence against Iranian women and violating the rights of Iranian peaceful protesters. »

Shortly after, amid Iranian government internet shutdowns amid widespread protests over Amini’s death, the US government took a step intended to allow tech companies to help the Iranian people access information. on line.

In an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson last week, Iran’s special envoy Rob Malley stressed that the US policy on Iran « is not one of Washington-initiated regime change. » .

« Our policy is to defend and support the fundamental rights of Iranian citizens just as we want to support the fundamental rights of citizens around the world, » he said.

“The form of government in Iran will be up to the Iranians to decide. Our position, which is very clear, is that we support the fundamental human rights of ordinary Iranian women and men and that is our policy,” Malley added.

Malley said « there is no doubt » which side of the widespread protests the United States supports: the protesters.

“We are on the side of these fundamental rights and respect for these fundamental rights,” he said.

US officials including Malley have said support for protesters — not the Iran nuclear deal — is their focus right now, as efforts to restore the nuclear deal find themselves in a new dead end.

The Biden administration’s punitive moves against Iran for its crackdown on protesters come as the United States and Europe work to counter Iran’s and Russia’s growing cooperation in the war in Ukraine. In recent weeks, Russian forces have bombarded Ukrainian cities with Iranian drones. The State Department’s chief deputy spokesman, Vedant Patel, said last week that the « deepening » of relations between Moscow and Tehran should be seen as « a deep threat ».

Patel said the United States would « continue to take practical and aggressive action to make these arms sales more difficult, including sanctions, export controls against all entities involved. »

« We have many tools available in our arsenal to not only disrupt Iranian arms transfers, but to continue to hold Russia accountable for its senseless actions in Ukraine as well, » Patel said during a department briefing on Tuesday. last.

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