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US hits Iran with sanctions after deadly November crackdown on protesters

2019_Iranian_fuel_protests (Fars News/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States is implementing additional restrictive measures on Iran for what it says are ongoing human rights abuses, following a deadly crackdown last month on protesters in Tehran and more than 100 other cities and towns.

At a panel discussion on the topic in Washington that he hosted, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on December 19 that visa restrictions will be applied to current and former Iranian officials who abuse or detain peaceful protesters.

Pompeo enumerated individual examples of daily human rights abuses in Iran in his keynote speech.

They included women arrested for refusing to wear a hijab or head covering. A young protester who was shot in November for exercising his right to “freedom of assembly and expression.” Religious minorities who are banned from working in childcare centers with Muslim children. Eleven journalists who have been imprisoned.

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To pressure independent journalists, according to Pompeo, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry “is on a campaign of intimidation against elderly family members of Iranian journalists.”

He continued: “These handfuls of examples are but a glimpse into a regime of 40 years of disrespect for its people…and which makes Iran a pariah state in the eyes of freedom-loving people across the world.”

The State Department-hosted panel discussion came a month after unrest in Iran began on November 15 in response to the Iranian government abruptly raising fuel prices by as much as 300 percent.

It spread to more than 100 cities and towns and turned political as young and working-class protesters demanded clerical leaders step down.

Amnesty International said at least 304 people were killed during several days of protest rallies.

Iranian officials have dismissed Amnesty’s death toll figures as “lies.”

Thousands of demonstrators have also been arrested.

Also on December 19, the Treasury Department announced sanctions on two Iranian judges who handed “cruel sentences against activists, journalists, and religious minorities.”

Identified as Abolghassem Salavati and Mohammad Moghisseh, the two judges allegedly “oversaw the Iranian regime’s miscarriage of justice in show trials in which journalists, attorneys, political activists, and members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minority groups were penalized for exercising their freedom of expression and assembly and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, lashes, and even execution.”

The two judges had any property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction frozen.

The Treasury Department noted that Salavati and Moghisseh have also been sanctioned by the European Union “for presiding over a series of show trials following the 2009 Iranian presidential election, which imposed long prison sentences and several death sentences for political activists and journalists.”