US sanctions top Iranian officials over “serious” human rights abuses against women and girls in prisons
The Biden administration took action Wednesday against several Iranian officials and entities for committing human rights abuses against women and girls in the latest round of sanctions against Tehran over its crackdown on unrest in the country.
As the world marked International Women’s Day, Wednesday’s actions include sanctions against two senior officials in Iran’s prison system responsible for “serious” human rights abuses, according to the US Treasury Department.
“The United States remains deeply concerned that Iranian authorities continue to suppress dissent and peaceful protest, including through mass arrests, sham trials, hasty executions, the detention of journalists, and the use of sexual violence as a means of protest suppression,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
In coordination with the European Union, United Kingdom and Australia, the Treasury is also sanctioning three Iranian companies, a top Iranian commander, a “high-ranking” leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and an Iranian official the US government alleges is “central” to Iran’s ability to block internet access.
This is the tenth round of financial sanctions against Iran since the regime’s brutal crackdown of peaceful protests after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year posed the biggest domestic threat to the Iranian regime in years. But since then, the nationwide protests that started last September have petered out in the face of a brutal wave of repression against protestors, especially women.
“The United States, along with our partners and allies, stand with the women of Iran, who advocate for fundamental freedoms in the face of a brutal regime that treats women as second-class citizens and attempts to suppress their voices by any means,” said under secretary Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s top official responsible for financial sanctions.
The two sanctioned prison officials, Ali Chaharmahali and Dariush Bakhshi, have run prisons where political prisoners and protesters have been tortured, sexually abused and violently threatened, according to the Treasury.
Bakhshi, according to the US, has “personally overseen” the abuse of prisoners who are being held by the regime for political or religious reasons.
“Both officials were complicit in the mistreatment of inmates in their custody by security forces, including through rape, torture, or other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment,” said Blinken.
The sanctions also come after CNN published an extensive report last month on an unprecedented network of secret torture centers used by Iran to crush political unrest.
The three companies sanctioned Wednesday – Naji Pas Company, Naji Pars Amin Institute and Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company – and their leadership have helped procure goods and materiel for Iran’s security services, according to the Treasury.
The other top Iranian officials targeted by the US Wednesday include Mahdi Amiri, who has been “central” to the regime’s internet shutdowns in the face of widespread protests, as well as Sayyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, the commander in chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, and Habib Shahsavari, a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to the Treasury.
Troops under Mousavi’s command have suppressed peaceful demonstrations in 2019 and 2022, including allegedly firing guns at demonstrators, and forces led by Shahsvari have “detained and tortured” people, according to the US.
“We will continue to take action against the regime, which perpetuates abuse and violence against its own citizens— especially women and girls,” said Nelson.