In September 2010, the United States imposed sanctions on members of the Iranian government for the first time because of sustained and severe human rights violations against the Iranian people. Eight Iranian officials were designated, including the Minister of Intelligence and the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described why: "On these officials' watch or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed. Yet the Iranian government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses."
Now two more members of the Iranian government have been added to the list. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi and Mohammed Reza Naqdi commander of the Basij paramilitary force have been designated by the U.S. State and Treasury Departments "for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election." The designation means that any property the men may have in the United States is blocked; no American citizen can engage in any transactions with them, and they are subject to travel restrictions.
A joint statement by the departments of State and Treasury notes that Mr. Dolatabadi has indicted large numbers of protestors in Iran, charging many with crimes carrying the death sentence. His office has also arrested reformists, human rights activists, and members of the media as part of a broad crackdown on the political opposition.
As commander of the Basij forces, Mohammed Reza Naqdi was involved in the violent attacks by the Basij during the Ashura protests of December 2009. Prior to his current job, he was head of a Basij intelligence unit responsible for interrogating those arrested during the post-election crackdown, and was in charge of an interrogation team at the infamous Kahrizak detention center, where at least three demonstrators were killed.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that Iranians will recognize the two individuals being sanctioned by the U.S. as "two of the most egregious perpetrators of human rights abuses" in the country. He said that the designations "underscore our enduring commitment to support Iranians seeking to exercise their universal rights and express our solidarity with victims of torture, persecution and arbitrary detention."