The United States has imposed sanctions on seven high-ranking Iranian officials over the shutdown of Internet access in the country and the “continued violence against peaceful protesters” following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the morality police.
Among those designated for sanctions on October 6 is Yadollah Javani, the lthe police chief in Tehran who oversees much of the morality police’s activities to ensure hijab compliance in the capital. Amini was detained on September 13 by the morality police for improperly wearing a hijab, the head scarf women must wear in public under Iranian law. The U.S. Treasury Department said that, in addition to Javani, the officials designated for sanctions include Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, Communications Minister Eisa Zarepour, and Vahid Mohammad Naser Majid, the head of the Iranian Cyberpolice. The United States also targeted Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials Hossein Nejat, a commander who it said heads the security apparatus based in Tehran that is charged with quelling anti-government protests. The designations together with the release of a license authorizing exports of additional tools to assist Iranians in accessing the Internet demonstrate U.S. commitment to free, peaceful assembly, and open communication, the Treasury Department said in a statement. The Undersecretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson said in the statement that 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 sanctions designation freezes any assets or property interests owned by the seven officials in the United States and bars U.S. nationals from transactions involving them without special permission from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Since Amini's death on September 16, anti-government street protests have rocked the country, and the government has responded with a fierce crackdown.
Human Rights Watch said that at least 154 people, including nine children, have been killed over the past 18 days during the protests over Amini's death.
Amnesty International said on October 6 that at least 66 were killed by Iranian security forces in the city of Zahedan in southeastern Iran during a violent crackdown after Friday prayers on September 30. Authorities have reported numerous deaths among the security forces and have accused foreign adversaries, including the United States and Israel, of meddling to destabilize Iran. On September 22, the United States imposed sanctions on the morality police and other senior leaders of Iran’s security organizations over allegations concerning the abuse of Iranian women, saying it held the unit responsible for the death of Amini.