The United States has issued sanctions against a host of Iranian security agencies, prisons and senior security officials for various violations of human rights.

The sanctions announced on Tuesday [December 7] come amid diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement and Tehran’s insistence that all US sanctions issued since 2018 must be lifted before a deal is reached.

A detailed statement by the Department of Treasury listed those sanctioned, providing their role in violent suppression of protests and other violations of human rights.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also tweeted that “Ahead of the Summit for Democracy, the U.S. is demonstrating its commitment to supporting victims of repressive activities and human rights abuse worldwide,” by designating actors in Iran, Syria and Uganda.

The Special Units of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF Special Units) dedicated to crowd control were singled out for their violent crackdown on protesters in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential elections as well as their role in firing on unarmed protesters in the November 2019 demonstrations in Iran. Also, Iran’s Counter-Terror Special Forces (NOPO) are designated for assisting LEF Special Units in violence against protesters in November 2019.

Protests in November 2019 in Tehran, Iran

Up to 1,500 or more people were killed in November 2019 when security forces received orders to fire on people protesting a sudden increase in gasoline prices.

The statement said that these units “used excessive and lethal force, firing upon unarmed protestors, including women and children, with automatic weapons. NOPO forces blocked main streets with armed vehicles and fired randomly at crowds with heavy machine guns.”

From among security officials Hassan Karami, the commander of LEF Special Units, Seyed Reza Mousavi Azami, a unit commander and Mohesen Ebrahimi the commander of NOPO were designated for carrying out attacks on protesters.

Gholamreza Soleimani, commander of IRGC’s Basij that “reportedly were among the Iranian security organizations that collectively killed hundreds of Iranian men, women, and children.”

The governor of Qods City, Leila Vaseghi was also sanctioned “for issuing an order to the police and other armed forces during the November 2019 protests to shoot unarmed protestors, causing dozens of deaths or injuries.”

Also, IRGC interrogators Ali Hemmatian and Massoud Safdari are designated for their “long records of physical abuse against Iranian political prisoners at IRGC detention facilities, including at Iran’s Evin Prison.”

Zahedan Prison, in southeaster Iran is designated for execution of a political prisoner as retaliation against him for speaking out for his rights, and violation of other political prisoners’ rights.

Similarly, Isfahan Central Prison known as Dastgerd Prison was also designated for executing political prisoners.

Soghra Khodadadi, the current director of Qarchak Women’s Prison was designated for ordering a violent attack against prisoners who tried to exercise their right to freedom of speech.

Moahmmad Karami, an IRGC Brigadier General was sanctioned for his unit firing at unarmed fuel porters at the border with Pakistan killing around ten people.

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