Treasury sanctions Iranian officials linked to continued crackdown on protests

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) singled out three Iranian security officials for the Iranian regime’s continued crackdown on ongoing protests across the country, including most recently in Kurdish regions. The Iranian regime has escalated its aggressive actions against the Iranian people as part of its continued crackdown on peaceful protests against a regime that denies human rights and fundamental freedoms to its people, especially women and girls.

“The Iranian regime is said to have targeted and slaughtered its own children, who took to the streets to demand a better future,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Abuses in Iran against protesters, including more recently in Mahabad, must end.

Today’s action is taken pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13553, which authorizes sanctions against individuals who have committed serious human rights abuses involving Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (ELF) were both designated under EO 13553 in 2011 to be responsible for or complicit in serious human rights violations in Iran since the disputed presidential election of June 2009. election. Both the IRGC and EWL are said to have stifled freedom of expression in Iran through excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings, torture, denial of medical treatment and enforced disappearances of unarmed protesters, including children. The individuals sanctioned today acted or purported to act for or on behalf of these previously designated entities.

Protests in the Kurdish region of Iran

Since nationwide protests erupted after the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s ‘morality police’ in September 2022, Kurdish towns in northwestern Iran, such as Sanandaj and Mahabad, have faced to a particularly severe security response. Residents describe a lockdown of their towns by military forces, as well as severe disruptions to key city services including internet, telephone and even impacts on water supplies. The protests continued, despite the intimidation tactics of the Iranian security services. In recent days, dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed in the Kurdish region alone.

Today’s action targets key officials in the city of Sanandaj: Hassan Asgari (Asgari), the Governor of Sanandaj, and Alireza Moradi (Moradi), the commander of the LEF forces in Sanandaj. Prior to taking office as governor of Sanandaj, Asgari was the commander of IRGC forces in Sanandaj. Asgari’s transition from a military role to that of governor is an example of the systematic spread of military control over cities. Moradi, as LEF commander in Sanandaj, led the crackdown on protests in the town. When a 16-year-old protester was allegedly killed by security forces in Sanandaj, Asgari and other officials said she died of a drug overdose, potentially by suicide. Providing false alternative causes of death for protesters killed by security forces is a common tactic used by Iranian officials to evade accountability for their human rights abuses.

Asgari is designated pursuant to EO 13553 for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC. Moradi is named in accordance with EO 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the LEF.

Today’s action also aims Mohammad Taghi Osanloo (Osanloo), the IRGC ground forces commander who oversees Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, which includes the city of Mahabad. This is considered one of the most important commands of the IRGC. In recent days, the IRGC has deployed additional forces to Kurdish towns across Iran, including Mahabad, in response to the ongoing protests.

Osanloo is designated pursuant to EO 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf, directly or indirectly, of the IRGC.

IMPLICATIONS OF SANCTIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of such persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC . In addition, all entities owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. OFAC regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting through the United States) that involve property or interests in the property of blocked persons or designated.

In addition, persons who engage in certain transactions with Designated Persons today may themselves be subject to penalties or legal action. In addition, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a material transaction or provides material financial services to any of the persons named today could be subject to US sanctions.

The power and integrity of OFAC’s sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add individuals to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN list in accordance with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about positive behavior change. For more information on the process for requesting removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN list, please refer to OFAC’s 897 Frequently Asked Questions.

Identifying information about those named today.

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