Widespread protests continue in Iran following the death in so-called “morality police” custody of twenty-two-year-old Mahsa Amini, arrested because of her “improper hijab.”
For more than a month, demonstrators have taken to the streets in scores of Iranian cities and towns; many demonstrations led by women and joined by their fathers, brothers, and husbands. Students from universities across the country also have risen up in peaceful protest against government repression.
The response by the Iranian government has been brutal and increasingly fatal. Iranian authorities have killed hundreds of Iranians in their violent crackdown, including dozens of children. Amnesty International found that at least 82 people were killed in Zahedan in Sistan and Baluchistan province alone, as security forces fired with live ammunition on peaceful protesters there. In addition, thousands of people have been arrested, including reporters, journalists, students, and prominent cultural figures. The Iranian government has also disrupted access to the Internet for most of its 80-plus million citizens.
The United States has vigorously condemned the crackdown on peaceful protesters, who are demanding respect for their human rights and basic dignity. President Biden said in a statement on October 3, “The United States stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their bravery.” He noted that the United States has taken action to make it easier for Iranians to access the Internet, and sanctioned several Iranian officials and entities, including the Morality Police.
President Biden also said that the United States will continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for their violent crackdown. On October 6, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions on seven other senior leaders in Iran for their part in the violent repression of Iranian citizens and the shutdown of Iran’s internet access. Those targeted include Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi and minister of communications, Eisa Zarepour, for his role in shutting down Iranians’ access to the global Internet. The five others are senior security officials connected with Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces, the Iranian Cyber Police, and the IRGC.
“We condemn the Iranian government’s crackdown on its people’s right to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price in a tweet. “We will continue to use our sanctions as long as Iran continues to disregard its people’s rights.”