US and Canada announce new sanctions against Iran over protests

Washington sanctions three Iranian officials accused of participating in a ‘brutal crackdown’ against protesters.

Protester holding a banner saying 'Shut Down Iranian Embassy'
Demonstrators protests against the Iranian government in London in November [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

The governments of the United States and Canada have announced another round of sanctions against Iranian officials accused of human rights violations as protests roil Iran.

The US Department of the Treasury said in a press release on Friday that the sanctions target three Iranian security and law enforcement officials that the US has accused of involvement in the detentions of anti-government protesters and the violence against them.

“Today, we have taken coordinated sanctions actions against Iranian officials connected to human rights abuses, including those committed as part of the ongoing brutal crackdown aimed at denying the Iranian people their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Canada and the US said in a joint statement, also released on Friday.

The sanctions against Iranian officials are part of a larger US campaign focusing on more than 40 individuals and entities across nine countries on International Anti-Corruption Day. Among the countries identified are North Korea, Russia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mali and the Philippines.

The US and Canada have targetted numerous Iranian groups and officials with sanctions over Tehran’s harsh response to the protests against the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. She died in September after being detained by Iran’s morality police.

The Iranian government carried out the first known execution related to the protests on Thursday. A man identified as Mohsen Shekari, 23, was hanged for allegedly shutting down a street and attacking a security officer with a knife.

Friday’s sanctions were directed at Iranian officials who the US said had been involved in government violence. Ali Akbar Javidan, commander for the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (LEF) in Kermanshah province, was accused of overseeing forces that had killed protesters.

Ebrahim Kouchakzaei – an LEF commander in Chabahar, a city on the Gulf of Oman – was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl, spurring protests in which security forces are said to have killed more than 60 people.

The US also sanctioned Allah Karam Azizi, who oversees Rejaee Shahr Prison outside Tehran, which Washington says houses political prisoners who have been abused.

Friday’s sanctions freeze assets for the sanctioned parties and restrict individuals in the US and Canada from engaging in transactions with them. The Treasury Department said it has issued five rounds of sanctions against officials and entities involved in the crackdown on Iranian protesters since September.

Canada also barred entry to about 10,000 members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in October.

Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the protests, has said at least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 arrested as the Iranian government seeks to put down the protests.

Source: Al Jazeera, The Associated Press