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US, partners impose new Iran sanctions to mark Amini anniversary

The US in conjunction with Australia, Canada, and the UK issued a new round of sanctions against Iranian-state entities, officials and individuals in connection with Tehran's crackdown on protesters.
Women hold up signs depicting Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iranian authorities, Irbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, September 24, 2022.

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday imposed new sanctions to mark the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, which last year set off sweeping protests against Iran's clerical regime.

In connection with the government’s brutal clampdown on the nationwide protest movement, the administration announced sanctions against 25 Iranian individuals, Iranian state-backed media outlets Fars News, Tasnim News and Press TV, and one Iranian internet research firm. It also imposed visa restrictions on 13 Iranian officials and other individuals for their involvement. 

The sanctions were undertaken in coordination with Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged that the United States and its partners would “hold accountable those who suppress Iranians’ exercise of human rights.” 

“One year ago, Mahsa’s tragic and senseless death in the custody of Iran’s so-called 'Morality Police' sparked demonstrations across Iran that were met with unspeakable violence, mass arrests, systemic internet disruptions and censorship by the Iranian regime,” Blinken said in a statement. 

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said in a statement that the UK has sanctioned more than 350 Iranian officials and entities since the beginning of the protests a year ago, adding four individuals on Friday to the list. 

“Today’s sanctions on those responsible for Iran’s oppressive laws send a clear message that the UK and our partners will continue to stand with Iranian women and call out the repression it is inflicting on its own people,” Cleverly said. 

Saturday will mark one year since Amini died while in custody of the Iranian morality police who arrested her days earlier for allegedly violating the law requiring women to wear headscarves in public. Authorities blamed the 22-year-old's death on preexisting medical problems. 

Her death sparked months of protests under the banner “Woman, Life, Freedom.” What began as demonstrations against the compulsory hijab in Iran’s Kurdish-populated northwest, where Amini lived, soon turned into one of the country’s largest protest movements since the 1979 revolution. 

Iranian security forces responded by violently cracking down on the demonstrations, killing more than 500 people and detaining some 22,000, according to rights groups. The sanctions announced Friday are the Biden administration’s 13th round of sanctions imposed over the brutal clampdown.  

The new designations come days before the expected release of five Americans held in Iranian custody. Along with exchanging prisoners, Washington will facilitate Terhran’s access to $6 billion in frozen energy revenue for humanitarian purposes. Blinken this month signed waivers permitting the transfer of the money, held in South Korea, to Qatar’s central bank. 

The United States and its partners unveiled the sanctions ahead of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s arrival in New York next week to attend the UN General Assembly's annual gathering of world leaders. In an interview with NBC News, Raisi defended his government’s response to the protests but said those who fuel instability in Iran would pay a “big cost.” 

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