The United States imposed sanctions on seven senior Iranian leaders on Thursday for their role in preventing the country from accessing the internet and for their crackdown on dissidents who were protesting the death of a young woman who was in the custody of the country’s morality police for not wearing a hijab properly. (US Sanctions Iranian Officials)
Along with five other members of Iran’s security apparatus, the Treasury Department targeted Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Communications Minister Eisa Zarepour.
“The United States condemns the Iranian government’s continued violent suppression of protests following the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the so-called morality police,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement. Since then, the Iranian government has cracked down on the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech.
“The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are vital to guaranteeing individual liberty and dignity,” stated Brian Nelson, Undersecretary of the Treasury. The Iranian government‘s shutdown of the internet and continued violent suppression of peaceful protests are condemned by the United States, and the United States will not hesitate to target those who direct and support such actions.
The seven Iranians’ assets in the United States are frozen, they are unable to conduct any financial transactions, and Americans are unable to do business with them.
According to the Treasury, Vahidi is in charge of Iran’s law enforcement forces (LEF), which are deployed to quell protests and are linked to casualties. It stated that Vahidi has “explicitly threatened protesters who continue to challenge the regime and has defended the brutal actions of LEF officers in suppressing ongoing protests” and that the security forces are to blame for “at least dozens of casualties in the recent demonstrations.”
According to the Treasury, Zarepour “is responsible for the Iranian government’s shameful attempt to block the internet access of millions of Iranians in the hopes of slowing the protests.” He “has indicated that the internet clampdown and silencing of voices online will continue as long as protests persist,” according to the United States agency. (US Sanctions Iranian Officials)
“The United States stands with Iranian women and Iranian citizens who are inspiring the world with their bravery,” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stated earlier this week. We will continue to support Iranians’ freedom of protest.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of Iran, has stated that the widespread protests following Amini’s death are not the work of “ordinary Iranians.” He said that the demonstrations were planned by Israel and the United States.
The protests, which have been going on for three weeks, have been met with a crackdown by police and other security personnel. According to government statements compiled by The Associated Press, at least 14 people have died and 1,500 people have been arrested; rights groups claim that at least 130 people have died and thousands have been arrested. (US Sanctions Iranian Officials)
Khamenei expressed his grief and described the death of Amini as a “sad incident.”
Amini was arrested in Tehran by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code. Three days later, she passed away in a hospital after falling into a coma.
She died of a heart attack, according to the government. That story was rejected by her family, who claimed that Amini had been beaten rather than having a history of heart issues. They demanded responsibility.