The US has accused three senior Iranian security officials of committing human rights abuses in many Kurdish areas.
The United States has announced sanctions against three senior Iranian security officials as the government seeks to crack down on protesters in the country’s predominantly Kurdish region.
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 deeply concerned by reports that Iranian authorities are escalating violence against peaceful protesters,” Blinken said. “The Iranian regime’s suppression of human rights against its own people must not continue without consequences.”
The warnings come as protests continue in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian Kurdish woman who died after being arrested by the country’s morality police in September.
Human Rights Watch in Iran, the group monitoring the protests, said at least 426 people had been killed and more than 17,400 arrested as the Iranian government sought to end the protests.
The US Treasury Department said the government’s response “has been severe” in areas with large Kurdish populations, such as Sanandaj and Mahabad in northwestern Iran.
One of the people allowed today, Asgari, is the governor of Sanandaj. The US Treasury said he and other officials tried to cover up the death of a 16-year-old boy who was allegedly killed by security forces, spreading rumors that he died of suicide and drug addiction.
Another official, Moradi, is the head of Sanandaj’s Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF). He is said to have ordered the “arrest of protesters”, according to US Secretary of State Blinken.
The third person named in Wednesday’s sanctions, Osanloo, is the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province. He controls an area that includes the Kurdish city of Mahabad.
Iran has refused to review its human rights record, accusing Western governments of hypocrisy and saying at a UN conference that the government has shown “great restraint” in protests.
In response to the IRGC’s violence against peaceful protesters, @USTreasury nominated three Iranian officials for human rights violations. The Iranian government should listen to their people, not shoot them. https://t.co/h684dnrx7y
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 23, 2022
Sanctions freeze any U.S.-owned assets and generally prohibit U.S. persons from doing business with them.
The US has already imposed sanctions on members of Iran’s intelligence agency, IRGC leaders, prison guards, members of the Iranian government and others.
“The Iranian regime is allegedly targeting and killing its own children, who have taken to the streets in search of a better future,” Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s undersecretary for counterterrorism and economic affairs, said in a statement. “The ongoing violence in Iran against protesters, including recently in Mahabad, must stop.”