US imposes sanctions on Iranian vice squad after Mahsa Amini .’s death

The US government on Thursday imposed sanctions on Iran’s vice squad and leaders of other government agencies after the death of a woman detained over charges that she violated the country’s dress code by wearing her Muslim headgear loosely.

The sanctions come after at least nine protesters have been killed in clashes with Iranian security forces since violence erupted over the weekend over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

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Iran protests: At least 9 dead in clashes over the death of Mahsa Amini

The Ministry of Finance’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has also designated the leaders of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Army Ground Forces, the Basij Resistance Forces and other law enforcement agencies for the sanctions, which will prevent them from accessing their property and deny bank accounts in the US

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“These officials oversee organizations that routinely use violence to repress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women’s rights activists and members of Iran’s Baha’i community,” the treasury said in a press release.

Morality police arrested Amini last week, saying she did not properly cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf known as the hijab, which is mandatory for Iranian women. Amini collapsed at a police station and died three days later.

Click to play video: 'Death of woman in custody of Iranian 'morality police' sparks outrage'

Woman’s death in Iranian ‘morality police’ custody sparks outrage

Woman’s death in Iranian ‘morality police’ custody sparks outrage

Police say she died of a heart attack and deny that she was assaulted. The government has released video footage that would show the moment she collapsed. Her family says she had no history of heart problems, and her death in police custody led to daring displays of defiance from protesters, despite beatings and possible arrests.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US is calling on the Iranian government to “end violence against women and the continued crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly”.

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“Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in the vice squad was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Yellen said.

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Iran protests: women burn hijabs, cut hair after woman’s death in police custody

Amini’s death has prompted Iranians to take to the streets of Tehran and other parts of the country. Many Iranians, especially young people, have come to see her death as part of the Islamic Republic’s crackdown on dissent and the increasingly violent treatment of young women by the morality police.

An anchor on Iranian state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could be as high as 17, but he didn’t say how he reached that number.

Iran has been condemned worldwide for Amini’s death and the UN human rights agency has called for an investigation.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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