US Issues New Sanctions on Iran for Violent Suppression of Protests and Internet Shutdown |  CNN Politics

US Issues New Sanctions on Iran for Violent Suppression of Protests and Internet Shutdown | CNN Politics


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

The massive protests that have swept Iran were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained by the country’s vice police on September 13 after being accused of breaking the country’s conservative dress code. .

The White House has signaled that the United States will take further action against Iran following its response to protests earlier this week. President Joe Biden released a statement on Monday pledging additional costs “for perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new US sanctions announced Thursday were due to Iran continuing to suppress “the right to free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, including cutting off access to Internet” after Amini’s death.

Blinken said the ongoing costs the Biden administration is imposing on Iran demonstrates American support for Iranian women protesting for their rights.

“Today’s action follows the September 22 designation of the Morality Police, its senior leadership and other senior security officials, and the issuance of the related D-2 General License to Iran, which together demonstrate that the United States stands with the courageous citizens and courageous women of Iran who are protesting right now to secure their basic rights,” Blinken said.

The new sanctions target Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees all of the country’s law enforcement agencies (LEFs) that have been used to try to quell the protests.

The sanctions also target Eisa Zarepour, the communications minister, who is “responsible for the shameful attempt to block internet access for millions of Iranians in the hope of slowing down the protests,” the Treasury Department statement said.

Five other Iranian officials are also sanctioned, including the deputy commander of operations of the LEF Hossein Sajedinia, the deputy political commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Yadollah Javani, the head of the Iranian cyberpolice Mohammad Naser Majid, another IRGC member. Commander Hossein Nejat and Iranian LEF Police Chief in Tehran Hossein Rahimi.

The sanctions came the same day Amnesty International published a report accusing Iranian security forces of killing 82 people and injuring hundreds more in the southeast of the country.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in the property of these individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported” to the office foreign assets control, the Treasury Department said. States.

“The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are essential to ensuring individual freedom and dignity,” Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson said in a press release. “The United States condemns the Iranian government’s internet shutdown and continued violent crackdown on peaceful protests and will not hesitate to target those who lead and support such actions.”

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

Biden also said on Monday that the United States was working to make it easier for Iranians to access the internet, “including facilitating greater access to secure outside platforms and services,” although officials acknowledged the difficulty doing so.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Biden alluded to the protests over Amini’s death and said the United States stands with the “brave women of Iran who are protesting right now.” to guarantee their fundamental rights”.

Iranian security forces killed at least 82 people and injured hundreds in the city of Zahedan in southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province after firing live ammunition, metal pellets and tear gas as part of an ongoing crackdown on protests in the region, Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday.

Abdullah Aref, a Baloch activists (Faaleen) campaign organizer in Zahedan, told CNN on Saturday that people were protesting the alleged rape of a Baloch girl by a policeman, when security forces began shooting at women. demonstrators, at which point the demonstrators set fire to the police station.

Zahedan, a city in Pakistan’s neighboring Sistan and Balochistan Province, 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 the true death toll in Zahedan, based on evidence gathered from activists, families of victims, eyewitness accounts and images and videos of the protests, is likely to be higher.

The total death toll since protests began across Iran on September 18 varies according to the government, opposition groups, international rights organizations and local journalists. An Iran-focused human rights group based in Norway, IranHR, puts the death toll at 154 since protests began across Iran. Human Rights Watch said that as of September 31, Iranian state-affiliated media put the death toll at 60.

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