Citing the death of a young woman while in police custody, Canada has slapped a new round of sanctions on several high-ranking Iranian security officials for alleged human rights abuses.
Melanie Joly, the minister of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on October 3 that the sanctions are in response to "gross human rights violations" that have been committed in Iran, including its "systematic persecution" of women and in particular, "the egregious actions" committed by Iran’s so-called "Morality Police," which led to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in their custody.
"Iran’s continued grave and ongoing breaches of international law are well known and documented, including its blatant disregard for human life," she said in the statement. The list of those added to the sanctions regime includes 25 individuals and nine entities, including officials in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the country's ministry of intelligence and security. Among those named are Mohammed-Hossein Bagheri, a major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces; Major General Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the IRGC; Esmail Qaani, commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC; the Evin Prison, which houses political prisoners; and Iran’s morality police and its head, Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi. Iran's state-run Press TV and its "morality police," which enforces the Islamic Republic's strict dress code, were also sanctioned by Canada. Amini was taken into custody by the morality police before she died. She was detained for allegedly wearing a head scarf, or hijab, improperly. Officials have said Amini died of a heart attack on September 16, but her relatives and supporters reject the claim, saying there are eyewitness accounts reporting she was beaten by police. Amini's death has sparked widespread anger and daily protests in Iran, which the country's leadership has vowed to put down harshly. "Our message to Iran is clear: the continued and systemic persecution of Iranian women must stop and they will be held accountable for human rights violations and blatant disregard for human life," Joly said in the statement. "Canada applauds the courage and actions of Iranians and will stand by them as they fight for their rights and dignity.”