The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police and heads of government agencies after the death of a woman in police custody sparked protests and global condemnation.
At least nine protesters and two members of the security forces have been killed in violent demonstrations since the weekend The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
Morality police detained Miss Amini last week, saying she did not properly cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf – known as the hijab – which is compulsory for Iranian women. Miss Amini collapsed at the police station and died three days later.
The U.S. Treasury Department has designated the heads of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Army Ground Forces, Basij Resistance Forces and other law enforcement agencies for sanctions — denying them access to their U.S. assets and bank accounts.
“These officials oversee organizations that routinely use violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists, and members of Iran’s Baha’i community,” the finance ministry said in a press release.
Police say Miss Amini died of a heart attack and deny she was abused, and the government has released a video purported to show the moment she collapsed.
But her family say she had no history of heart problems and her death in police custody sparked a brazen defiance by protesters facing beatings and possible arrest.
Independent experts linked to the UN said on Thursday that reports suggested she was severely beaten by morality police, without offering evidence.
Niloufar Hamedi, a journalist who took pictures at the hospital after Ms Amini’s death, was arrested on Thursday, according to the journalist’s lawyer, Mohammadali Kamfirouzi.
He said her house was attacked.
Women cut their hair in solidarity
Women took to the streets of Tehran and across the country and many Iranians, especially young people, saw her death as part of the Islamic Republic’s strict policing of dissent and the increasingly violent treatment of young women by the morality police.
Protests have escalated into an open challenge to the government over the past five days, with women in the streets removing and burning their state-mandated headscarves and Iranians calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself.
“Death to the dictator,” was a common chant at the protests.
It is the most serious demonstration since 2019, when protests erupted over the government’s hike in gasoline prices.
A state television host suggested the death toll from the mass protests could reach 17 – but did not explain how he arrived at that figure.
Miss Amini’s death also sparked condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
A wave of women around the world have uploaded videos of themselves to social media platforms cutting off their hair in solidarity with Iranian women.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was in New York for the UN General Assembly on Thursday, condemned the crackdown and said Germany would address the violation of women’s rights at the UN Human Rights Council.
“The brutal attack on brave women in Iran is also an attack on humanity,” she said.
Iran’s president demands that American journalists wear headscarves
In New York, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took the stage of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
CNN’s chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, said she had planned to confront Mr Raisi about the protests in his first interview in the US, but the president backed out when she refused to wear a headscarf.
“We are in New York where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president had asked for it when I interviewed them outside of Iran,” the British-Iranian leader wrote alongside a photo of a blank Mr Raisi. a chair.
“I could not agree to this unexpected and unexpected condition,”
“As the protests in Iran continue and people are being killed, it would be an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”