US announces Iran sanctions for human rights abuses

The United States announced on Wednesday a new set of sanctions targeting 12 Iranian officials and three Iranian institutions for human rights abuses.
author_image Laurie Mylroie

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The United States announced on Wednesday a new set of sanctions targeting 12 Iranian officials and three Iranian institutions for human rights abuses.

“Today, the United States is imposing financial sanctions and visa restrictions on Iranian individuals and entities under human rights-related authorities,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed in a statement entitled, “Standing with the Iranian People.”

Ali Fallahian: Directed Assassination of KDP-I Leader

Ali Fallahian, head of Iran’s intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), from 1989 to 1997, was among the two most significant figures designated in Wednesday’s action, which encompassed both the repression of Iranians inside the country, as well as assassinations and other acts of terrorism committed outside of Iran.

In September 1992, while Fallahian led the MOIS, Sadegh Sharafkandi and three other Iranian Kurdish leaders, along with their translator, were assassinated in a Berlin restaurant.

Sharafkandi headed the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI), and he was in Germany to attend a Socialist International convention.

Four men were subsequently arrested and convicted for the murders. During the trial, it emerged that the highest levels of the Iranian regime had ordered the attack, and they had assigned Fallahian with organizing it.

To carry it out, Fallahian turned to an Iranian grocer in Berlin, an agent of the regime, who, in turn, recruited three Lebanese men. In March 1996, German authorities issued an arrest warrant for Fallahian, although they were never able to detain him.

As Pompeo stated, Fallahian “was involved in multiple assassinations and attacks across the globe,” citing a 1995 suicide bombing in the Gaza strip, which killed a young US exchange student, as well as the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli: Ordered Murderous Suppression of Iranian Protests

Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Iran’s Interior Minister, who has held that post since 2013, was also designated in Wednesday’s actions.

Some 1,500 Iranians were killed during two weeks of protests last November. Fazli was a key figure in the heavy-handed suppression of the demonstrations.

“We have reason to believe,” Pompeo’s statement explained, that Fazli gave “orders authorizing Iranian police forces to use lethal force on peaceful protestors and bystanders.”

Pompeo also noted that during the protests, the Iranian regime “imposed a near-total shutdown of access” to the internet, and he called on technology companies to address that issue and “improve the free flow of information to the Iranian people.”

Other Senior Police Officials

The US also sanctioned seven senior police officials, noting that in addition to repressing the Iranian people, the police were also involved in the abuse of Afghan residents in Iran, “sending them to deportation centers,” where the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), “has reportedly coerced many into fighting for Iranian militias in Syria,” a statement from the Treasury Department explained.

Hossein Ashtari, Iran’s Chief of Police, and Ayoub Soleimani, his deputy, were cited for their role in suppressing the November protests, as well as demonstrations against the mandatory wearing of the hijab in July, three months before. Four other senior police officials were also designated.

Additionally, the IRGC’s Brig. Gen. Hassan Shahvarpour Najafabadi was named for his role in the violent suppression of protestors in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province.

A foundation in Tehran run by the police, as well as two prisons there, were also designated. Any party providing support to those institutions is subject to secondary sanctions.

Wednesday’s action marked the second, successive day the US has announced sanctions related to Iran.

Read More: US sanctions Chinese company for supporting Iran’s Mahan Air

As Pompeo told journalists on Wednesday, “Tomorrow marks 24 months – two years – since I launched the campaign to get Iran to behave like a normal nation. We continue to follow through on that commitment.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany