Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 2 June 2020

US blacklists Iran's interior minister over human rights abuses

The Treasury said Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli gave orders authorising lethal force against protesters

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli speaks during a press conference upon his arrival to the Iraqi holy city of Najaf on September 29, 2019 to coordinate the Shiite Muslim commemoration of Arbaeen. AFP
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli speaks during a press conference upon his arrival to the Iraqi holy city of Najaf on September 29, 2019 to coordinate the Shiite Muslim commemoration of Arbaeen. AFP

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iran's interior minister, accusing him of having a role in serious human rights abuse, including giving orders that led to violence against peaceful protesters, the US Treasury Department said.

The Treasury said in a statement that Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli gave orders authorising the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) to use lethal force in response to protests in November, leading to the killing of protesters, including at least 23 minors.

"The Iranian regime violently suppresses dissent of the Iranian people, including peaceful protests, through physical and psychological abuse," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people."

The sanctions also targeted seven law enforcement officials and an IRGC commander.

The LEF Cooperative Foundation - which the Treasury said is controlled by the LEF and which is active in Iran's energy, construction, services, technology and banking industries - was also blacklisted, as were its director and members of the board of trustees. The organisation's name in Iran is Bonyad Taavon NAJA.

Wednesday's action freezes any US-held assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

The State Department also barred Rahmani Fazli and his family from entering the United States.

The US government said the LEF was "responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses that have occurred since the disputed June 2009 presidential election and ensuing protests."

The LEF also operates detention centers associated with physical and psychological abuses, and was implicated in the torture and drowning of Afghan nationals attempting to cross into Iran, according to the US government.

Updated: May 20, 2020 07:55 PM

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