US sanctions Iran’s ‘morality police’

The Treasury Department announced the move as protests against the alleged murder of a young woman spread in Iran.

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on the so-called Iran “Ethical Police,” citing the death of a woman in custody. Amid the widespread unrest in Iran over the alleged murder of Mahsa Amini, the US Treasury Department also sanctioned seven senior officials of the Islamic Republic’s security organizations.

“Ethics Police are responsible for the recent death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested and taken into custody for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly,” said department in a statement.

Amini died in hospital on September 16, two days after his arrest. Law enforcement officials said her death was the result of a heart attack. However, numerous reports on social media suggested that the young woman died of her injuries while in custody. The claims have caused unrest in several cities, with human rights groups saying too many people have been killed by security services.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described Amini’s death as “Another atrocity by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people.”

Imposing sanctions on ethical police and Iranian security officials demonstrates US clarity “Committed to fighting for human rights and women’s rights, in Iran and globally,” Yellen said.

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Protesters clash with police in Iran, September 20, 2022. © Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Iranian officials blame deadly unrest

List of sanctioned individuals with a leader “Moral Police” Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi, Iranian Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib and Iran Army Ground Forces Commander, Kiyumars Heidari.

“These officials monitor organizations that regularly use violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, dissidents, women’s rights activists, women and members of the Iranian Baha’i community,” Treasury said.

Sanctions involve blocking all assets and interests of targeted individuals and entities in the US.

The “Moral Police” is part of Iran’s Law Enforcement Force (LEF). The LEF was sanctioned by Washington in 2011 for a crackdown on protesters following the controversial 2009 presidential election.

The announcement of sanctions by the Ministry of Finance comes as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard calls on the country’s judiciary to “identifyPeople who are going viral “False news and rumours.” Amid widespread protests over Amini’s death, the Guard said that the “Dangering the psychological safety of society” should be prosecuted.

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