image Photo: Reuters

US sanctions Iranians over protests

Washington imposed the punitive measures on Tehran’s prosecutor general and key military officials.

By Erin Viner

“We denounce the Iranian regime’s intensifying use of violence against its own people who are advocating for their human rights,” said the United States Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson in the statement.

Marking the latest response to the brutal crackdown on mass unrest after the death of young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, the United State Treasury Department accused Prosecutor General Mohammad Montazeri of influencing the judiciary to hand down harsh sentences to protestors in September.

Two senior officials the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and two others from its affiliate, the Basij Resistance Forces, were also sanctioned for violent crowd suppression. Tehran’s IRGC chief Hassan Hassanzadeh, Moslem Moein, whom the Treasury said oversees efforts to control and censor Iranians’ online activities, and the Basij Cyberspace Headquarters Chief and Deputy Coordinator Hossein Maroufi were also targeted by the sanctions.

In one of the toughest challenges since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, mass protests against theocratic rule in Iran have been ongoing since the 16 September death of  22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody following her arrest by the so-called “morality police” for attire deemed insufficiently Islamic. Iranians from layers of society have taken to the streets in a popular revolt to express outrage over her killing and the suppression of human rights by clerical rulers in the country, with many calling for the ousting or deaths of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi.

The Ayatollah regime has accused Israel and Western nations of instigating the unrest in a bid to launch civil war in the country, which security forces have met with deadly violence.

The public fury persists despite an ongoing violent crackdown by authorities and ultimatums issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which has crushed dissent in the past with the support of its volunteer Basij militia.

In addition, the Imen Sanat Zaman Fara company was penalized for producing equipment for Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces such as armored vehicles used in the repression.

The action freezes any assets on US soil of those designated, generally barring Americans from dealing with them. Those who violate the penalties also risk being hit with sanctions.