By Jubin Katiraie
The U.S. sanctioned Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli yesterday for serious human rights abuses against Iranians.
Furthermore, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned seven senior officials of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), a provincial commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and the Bonyad Taavon NAJA (LEF Cooperative Foundation), along with its director and members of the board of trustees.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said: “The Iranian regime violently suppresses dissent of the Iranian people, including peaceful protests, through physical and psychological abuse. The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people.”
Who Was Sanctioned and Why
Rahmani Fazli, who is also the chair of Iran’s National Domestic Security Council (NDSC) and is “Deputy or Replacement Commander-in-Chief of Police Forces”, is responsible for overseeing internal security matters, including the LEF.
In November 2019, Rahmani Fazli ordered the LEF to use lethal force against unarmed protesters during the nationwide uprising. Overall, 1,500 protesters were killed, including at least 23 children.
Since Rahmani Fazli took office in 2013, the LEF has, on multiple occasions, conducted serious human rights abuses against Iranians, with the Interior Ministry even issuing public warnings to discourage protesters from holding rallies by threatening a crackdown by the LEF.
The Ministry is responsible for issuing permits for protests, but Rahmani Fazli repeatedly denied these permits or, if he did agree, security to ensure peace. This had led to protesters being attacked by plainclothes security agents.
Rahmani Fazli was also involved in the decision to cut off the internet for days during the November 2019 protests, to prevent protesters from talking to each other or the outside world, so that the security forces could suppress the protests and control the narrative.
LEF Commander Hossein Ashtari Fard, who also directs the LEF cyber police unit, played a role in multiple cases of violence, including the murder of hundreds of protesters including children in November 2019
Deputy Commander Ayoub Soleimani, who is also the head of the Planning Directorate of the Armed Forces General Staff, played an active role in the suppression of anti-hijab protests in July 2019, ordering that security forces forcefully confront women not wearing the hijab.
Senior LEF officials Mohsen Fathi Zadeh, Yahya Mahmoodzadeh, Hamidreza Ashraq, and Mohammad Ali Noorinajad are being sanctioned for their role in the LEF.
Hassan Shahvarpour Najafabadi, the commander of the IRGC’s Vali Asr Base in Khuzestan, led the IRGC’s violent suppression of protestors in November 2019, where at least 100 protestors were killed in three days in Mahshahr alone by the IRGC.
The sanctions mean that the subjects’ assets in the U.S. or under U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen, that American people will not be able to do business with them, and those non-American people who choose to do business with them could find themselves subject to sanctions.
In addition, Rahmani Fazli, Shahvarpour, and their immediate family are banned from entering the United States.