The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned an Iranian police force that enforces religious observance after 22-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly and died in police custody.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced in a release on Thursday that it is designating Iran’s Morality Police for abuse and violence against Iranian women and violating the rights of peaceful protesters.
Iran has faced criticism internationally after the Morality Police arrested Mahsa Amini last week and she died days later after collapsing in the police station. Iranian officials have said she died of a heart attack, but officials from countries throughout the world have blamed the police force.
The Treasury Department release states that the police sent Amini to an “educational and orientation” class at police headquarters but was transported to a hospital the same day she was arrested in a coma and died two days later from internal injuries. Amini’s family has said that she did not have any heart condition, according to the release.
The United Nations’s Human Rights Office has called for an investigation, while the United States called on Iran to end its “systemic persecution” of women in the country.
An Iranian news agency reported that about 300 protesters gathered in Tehran on Tuesday, yelling “death to the dictator.” The UN has said that the Morality Police have stepped up their role in going after women not wearing the hijab properly.
The Treasury Department release states that the office is also sanctioning seven leaders of Iran’s security agencies who oversee organizations that regularly use violence to suppress peaceful protests, political opponents and women’s rights activists.
“Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”