The United States charged three Iranian security officials with complicity in human rights violations in predominantly Kurdish regions.
The United States has announced sanctions against three Iranian security officials amid government efforts to crack down on protesters in largely Kurdish regions of the country.
In a press release on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the three officials, Hassan Asgari, Alireza Moradi and Mohammad Taghi Osanloo, of complicity in human rights violations.
“The United States is gravely concerned by reports that the Iranian authorities are escalating violence against peaceful protesters,” Blinken said. “The human rights abuses inflicted by the government of Iran on its people must not go without consequences.”
The sanctions come as protests continue to rock Iran, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish descent who died after being detained by the country’s moral police in September.
Human rights activists in Iran, a group that monitors the protests, has said at least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 arrested as the Iranian government seeks to quell the protests.
The United States Department of the Treasury said in a statement that the government’s response has been “particularly harsh” in areas with large Kurdish populations, such as Sanandaj and Mahabad in northwest Iran.
One of the individuals sanctioned today, Asgari, is the Governor of Sanandaj. The US Treasury alleged that he and other officials tried to cover up the death of a 16-year-old protester allegedly killed by security forces, spreading rumors that she instead died by suicide and drug overdose.
Another sanctioned official, Moradi, is the commander of the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) of Sanandaj. He reportedly ordered the “mass arrest of protesters,” according to US Secretary of State Blinken.
The third individual named in Wednesday’s sanctions, Osanloo, is the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ground forces unit in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province. He oversees a region that includes the Kurdish city of Mahabad.
Iran has rejected scrutiny of its human rights record, accusing Western governments of hypocrisy and declaring during a UN meeting that the government has shown “profound restraint” during the protests.
In response to the IRGC’s violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, @The United States Treasury designated three Iranian officials linked to serious human rights abuses. The Iranian government should listen to its people, not shoot them. https://t.co/h684dnrx7y
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 23, 2022
The sanctions freeze any assets in the US held by individuals and generally prohibit individuals in the US from doing business with them.
The United States previously imposed sanctions on members of Iran’s intelligence agency, IRGC leaders, prison guards, members of Iran’s state media and others.
“The Iranian regime is reportedly targeting and gunning down its own children, who have taken to the streets to demand a better future,” Brian Nelson, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “The abuses being committed in Iran against protesters, including the most recent in Mahabad, must stop.”