An Iranian general sanctioned by the West for human rights abuses linked with mass protests triggered by the country’s contested 2009 presidential elections officially took over the post of police chief on January 9, nearly four months into nationwide unrest.
Last week, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, appointed Ahmad-Reza Radan to replace Hossein Ashtari.
Radan served as deputy police chief from 2008 to 2014 and went on to lead the Police Center for Strategic Studies. He was replaced as deputy by Ashtari, who was made the force’s commander in 2015.
In the statement announcing Radan’s appointment, Khamenei expressed “satisfaction” with Ashtari’s eight-year service.
Both Radan and Ashtari began their military career in the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Both were placed on the US and EU sanctions lists for their roles in suppressing protesters, including the beatings, killings and arbitrary arrests of demonstrators.
The new police chief was sanctioned by the United States in 2010, and later on by the European Union, over his role in the brutal crackdown on 2009 protests that erupted after the contentious reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
While serving as Tehran police commander, the general in 2007 ordered the arrest of boys and men with "unusual" hairstyles.
He also objected to women wearing boots and imposed tough measures against those who didn’t fully observe the strict dress code.
During the ongoing protests triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police, the police force under Ashtari’s command were involved in the killing of more than 500 demonstrators and by-passers and the arrest of over 20,000 others.