The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on seven senior Iranian officials for their roles in violent crackdowns on protesters after the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest for wearing her hijab improperly, AFP reports.
The sanctions targeted Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, Communications Minister Eisa Zarepour, and five senior security officials "for the shutdown of Iran's internet access and the continued violence against peaceful protesters," the US Treasury said.
Protests erupted across Iran over the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurd, after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.
The crackdown by the security forces on the protests has claimed dozens of lives, according to human rights groups.
“The rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly are vital to guaranteeing individual liberty and dignity,” said Treasury Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson in a statement quoted by AFP.
“The United States condemns the Iranian government’s Internet shutdown and continued violent suppression of peaceful protest and will not hesitate to target those who direct and support such actions."
The five security officials included in the sanctions were: Hossein Sajedinia, the deputy operations commander of Iranian law enforcement forces; Yadollah Javani, the deputy political commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; Vahid Mohammad Naser Majid, the head of the Iranian Cyber Police; Hossein Nejat, an IRGC commander; and Hossein Rahimi, who oversees much of the morality police’s hijab enforcement in Tehran, according to the Treasury.
The sanctions come three days after US President Joe Biden said that the United States will place "further costs" on Iran in response to the violent crackdown against "peaceful protesters" in the country.
"This week, the United States will be imposing further costs on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters. We will continue holding Iranian officials accountable and supporting the rights of Iranians to protest freely," he said.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told parliament this week that France is pushing for the European Union to "target senior officials and hold them responsible for their actions" over Iran's repression of protests following the death of Amini.
Proposed sanctions include "freezing their assets and their right to travel", Colonna said, criticizing Tehran officials who she said "repress (protests) on the one hand and send many of their own children to live in the West on the other".