The United States has imposed fresh sanctions against Iranian security officials in response to the clerical regime’s brutal crackdown on nationwide protests.
The latest U.S. sanctions since the wave of demonstrations broke out in mid-September targeted three officials involved in the authorities' "particularly severe security response" to protests in the Kurdish-majority cities of Sanandaj and Mahabad in northwestern Iran, the Treasury Department said in a statement on November 23.
The officials included Hassan Asgari, governor of Sanandaj, Alireza Moradi, commander of the Law Enforcement Forces in Sanandaj, and Mohammad Taghi Osanloo, commander the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) ground forces in the province of West Azerbaijan, according to the Treasury.
Residents in Sanandaj in Kurdistan province and Mahabad in West Azerbaijan “describe a lockdown of their cities by military forces, as well as severe disruptions to key city services, including internet, phone, and even impacts to the water supply,” the statement said, adding that dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed over the past few days in the Kurdish region alone.
“The Iranian regime is reportedly targeting and gunning down its own children, who have taken to the street to demand a better future,” said Brian Nelson, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, adding: "The abuses being committed in Iran against protestors, including most recently in Mahabad, must stop."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a separate statement that the United States “continues to support the Iranian people as they protest nationwide.” “The human rights abuses inflicted by Iran’s government on its people must not go without consequence.”
Iran has been gripped by protests demanding more freedoms and women's rights since the September 16 death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. She had been arrested for an alleged breach of the country's strict dress code.
Security forces have cracked down hard on the protests, which have been at their most intense in the western areas where the majority of the country’s Kurds live. At least 416 people have been killed, including 51 children and 27 women, according to one human rights group. Thousands of people have also been arrested.
At least six people have so far been sentenced to death over the demonstrations, which have grown into a broad movement against the theocracy that has ruled Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.