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September 22, 2022 4:39 pm

US Treasury Department Sanctions Iranian Morality Police Over Mahsa Amini Killing

avatar by Andrew Bernard

A police motorcycle burns during protests in the Iranian capital Tehran. Photo: Reuters/File

The US Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it was sanctioning the Iranian regime’s so-called “Morality Police” and seven Iranian security officials over the killing of Mahsa Amini, along with the current crackdown on protests that have erupted in the wake of her death.

Amini, 22, was arrested by the Morality Police last week in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire” and died in custody after being sent to an “educational and orientation” class. The Morality Police is tasked with enforcing Iran’s laws on women’s head coverings. 

“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,” said US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

In an interview on Thursday with the BBC’s Persian language service, Amini’s father, Amjad, angrily disputed the regime’s official claim that Mahsa died of a heart attack.

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“They’re lying. They’re telling lies. Everything is a lie … no matter how much I begged, they wouldn’t let me see my daughter,” Amini said.

Amini’s death has sparked a week of intensifying protests against the regime. In response, the government has blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the few social media services that remained available in Iran, and shut down internet access entirely in parts of Tehran.

Social media posts have depicted violent clashes between the police and demonstrators. Amnesty International said on Wednesday that it had recorded the deaths of eight people and that hundreds more had been injured so far.

The security officials sanctioned by the Treasury department on Thursday also include representatives of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Army’s Ground Forces, the Basij Resistance Forces, and Law Enforcement Forces. These are among the agencies most directly responsible for suppressing political dissent in the country. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that all of the individuals sanctioned on Thursday were all “involved in the suppression and killing of non-violent protestors”.

The US has announced a series of new sanctions against Iranian entities and officials in recent weeks even as negotiations continue to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal that provides significant sanctions relief.

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