US sanctions Iranian security officials over crackdown on protests

The Treasury Department sanctioned three Iranian security officials on Wednesday over the country’s crackdown on protests stemming from the death of a young woman in police custody in September.

The department imposed the sanctions against Mohammed Taghi Osanloo, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ground forces commander who oversees the West Azerbaijan province of Iran; Alireza Moradi, the commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces; and Hassan Asgari, the governor of Sanandaj.

“The abuses being committed in Iran against protestors, including most recently in Mahabad, must stop,” said Brian Nelson, the under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a news release.

Protests broke out across Iran after a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died in mid-September while in the custody of the country’s “morality police” after she was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. The ensuing protests have transformed into some of the largest antigovernment protests in recent history, and Iran has cracked down on the protesters, reportedly resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests.

Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the situation, has reported that at least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 people have been detained, according to The Associated Press.

The Treasury Department said Asgari was one of the officials who claimed that a 16-year-old reportedly killed by security forces died from a drug overdose, and Moradi led the crackdown on protesters in Sanandaj.

Moradi also authorized the use of lethal weapons against unarmed protesters in Sanandaj during nationwide protests in November 2019, according to the State Department.

The department said the IRGC, under the oversight of Osanloo, has deployed additional forces to Kurdish cities in Iran to respond to the protests.

It added the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Mahabad have faced a “particularly strong security response” to the protests.

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