US hits top Iranian officials for human rights abuses

Washington (AFP) –


The US government imposed sanctions on Wednesday on an Iranian government minister and senior law enforcement and military officials over human rights abuses.

"The Iranian regime violently suppresses dissent of the Iranian people, including peaceful protests, through physical and psychological abuse," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people."

The sanctions, the latest in a series of measures against the Iranian regime, target Interior Minister and chair of Iran's National Domestic Security Council (NDSC), Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, seven law enforcement officials and an IRGC commander.

The Treasury alleged that Rahmani Fazli has issued orders authorizing Iran's Law Enforcement Force to use "lethal force in response to the November 2019 protests, resulting in violence against peaceful protestors and bystanders. His orders led to the killing of many protestors, including at least 23 minors."

Washington also targeted IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour Najafabadi, Law Enforcement Force Commander Hossein Ashtari Fard, and Deputy Commander Ayoub Soleimani.

The sanctions block all US assets and property of the officials and prevent US financial institutions from dealing with them.

The steps also have implications for foreign banks and businesses which can run afoul of US authorities if they engage in transactions with sanctioned officials or firms.

The State Department also sanctioned Rahmani Fazli for "his involvement in gross violations of human rights," barring him and his family from entering the United States.

The US government said the LEF was "responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses that have occurred since the disputed June 2009 presidential election and ensuing protests."

The LEF also operates detention centers associated with physical and psychological abuses, and was implicated in the torture and drowning of Afghan nationals attempting to cross into Iran, according to the US government.