In response to the “tragic and brutal death” of a young Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, as well as the violent suppression of peaceful protests, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced sanctions against Iran’s so-called Morality Police and senior security officials.
Twenty-two-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran for purportedly wearing a hijab too loosely. She died while in custody of Iran’s so-called Morality Police.
Street patrols by the morality police in Iran intensified this summer. President Ebrahim Raisi had called for strict enforcement of laws, imposed after the revolution in 1979, that oblige women to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes.
Protests throughout Iran erupted after Amini’s death. They have been met with force by the authorities. The Iranian government’s crackdown is ongoing: Authorities have reportedly killed dozens of protestors, and last week the Iranian government cut off access to the internet for most of its 80 million citizens to prevent them—and the rest of the world—from watching its ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protestors.
In a separate statement, the Treasury Department said the officials designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control “oversee organizations that routinely employ violence to suppress peaceful protests and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists, and members of the Baha’i community.”
The seven designated officials include Iran’s Minister of Intelligence and Security, the head of Iran’s Morality Police, and the head of its Tehran division. The sanctions also target the deputy commander of the Basij; the deputy commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces, the LEF; the LEF commander of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province; and the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces. These men have been involved in serious rights abuses, including violence against detainees and the use of deadly force against protesters.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called the death of Mahsa Amini “another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people.” She added, “We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”
“Today’s action,” Secretary Yellen declared, “demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s clear commitment to stand up for human rights, and the rights of women in Iran and globally.”