The Biden administration has sanctioned Iran’s so-called “morality police” for alleged abuses and violence against Iranian women and protesters, as Iranians have taken to the streets over the recent death of a 22-year-old woman after her detention by the police force.
The death last week of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested in Tehran for “unsuitable attire”, has unleashed a wave of anger across Iran, as well as global condemnation.
On Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury sanctioned the country’s “morality police”, as well as seven leaders of Iranian security organisations that it said “routinely employ violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists, and members of the Iranian Baha’i community”.
“Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”
Earlier this week, an Iranian police official denied reports that Amini was beaten in custody.
Tehran’s police chief, Brigadier-General Hossein Rahimi, said on Monday that she was detained for wearing tight trousers and wearing her headscarf improperly, but that claims she was mistreated were “completely false”.
“Cowardly accusations have been levelled against the police, which we will defer to the day of judgement, but is it possible to shut down the society’s security?” Rahimi asked.
On Thursday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also called on the judiciary to prosecute people who are circulating “false news and rumours”, in an apparent bid to take the steam out of the protests.
In a statement, the IRGC expressed sympathy for the family and relatives of Amini.