US issues human-rights abuse sanctions on Iran army chief, officials

The US issued a new round of sanctions related to human-rights violations and corruption targeting some of Iran’s top military leaders, senior government officials and entities, the Department of Treasury announced on Wednesday, adding that the measures were taken in coordination with Western allies to mark international Women’s Day.

The sanctions target the top commander of the Iranian army, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, a high-ranking commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) leading the Shohada Provincial Corps in West Azerbaijan Province, as well as an Iranian government official who directly took part in the regime’s efforts to block internet access to the people.

Mousavi was in charge of units tasked with suppressing protests both in 2019 and the protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the morality police’s custody in 2022. “Troops under Mousavi’s command used machine guns to fire indiscriminately into crowds of protestors,” the Treasury said.

Mass protests have swept Iran for the past six months after Amini’s death. Iranians have gathered across the country to take part in demonstrations that called for the downfall of the regime. The regime responded with a violent crackdown on protesters, with dozens killed in clashes with the security forces and thousands arrested.

The sanctions also targeted two senior officials in Iran’s prison system responsible for serious human rights violations against women and girls. The Treasury said that protestors who have been sent to prisons under Ali Chaharmahali’s oversight have been tortured and pressured into forced confessions. He also “served as warden of the infamous Evin prison, under whose oversight prison officials, including members of the IRGC, tortured political opponents of the regime, including through the use of electrocutions, burnings, and severe beatings,” the Treasury said, adding that female inmates at Evin Prison were regularly threatened with rape as a form of coercion.

The other prison official, Dariush Bakhshi, was in charge of Orumiyeh central prison, in which women have been subjected to sexual violence and other forms of mistreatment at the hands of prison officials and IRGC interrogators. “Prisons officials under Bakshi’s oversight have used their positions of power to coerce women inmates into having sexual relations in exchange for better treatment, such as short furloughs from prison. Bakhshi has personally overseen the physical abuse of prisoners held for political or religious reasons. Prison officials in his jurisdiction have attacked such prisoners with batons, tear gas, and electroshock weapons,” the Treasury reports.

Media reported in December widespread abuse in prisons and sexual assault of Iranians arrested during the ongoing protests. A charge Iran’s prison service denied the allegations as false.

The new US sanctions also targeted three Iranian companies and their leadership for supporting and supplying goods and equipment and services to Iran’s security services, the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), which regularly used lethal force to suppress Iranian protests.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said: “The US, along with our partners and allies, stand with the women of Iran, who advocate for fundamental freedoms in the face of a brutal regime that treats women as second-class citizens and attempts to suppress their voices by any means.”

“We will continue to take action against the regime, which perpetuates abuse and violence against its own citizens—especially women and girls.”

The latest US actions were taken in coordination with its Western allies – the European Union, UK, and Australia – marking International Women’s Day. The Treasury said the latest action demonstrated a “unified commitment to holding the Iranian regime to account for denying the women and girls of Iran their human rights and dignity.”