Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - Page 7 News List

US sanctions Iranians for protest crackdown

Reuters, WASHINGTON

The US slapped financial sanctions on two Iranian officials on Wednesday for what it said were human rights abuses against protesters following Iran’s disputed presidential election in 2009.

Accusing the pair of “serious human rights abuses,” the White House warned similar steps may be taken against other Iranian officials, and repeated calls for the Tehran government to respect its citizens’ rights.

“The list of names is not exhaustive and will continue to grow based on events in Iran, and as additional information and evidence becomes available,” the White House said.

Washington recently has accused the Iranian authorities of hypocrisy for clamping down on protests in their own country while applauding demonstrators in Egypt, whose actions toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

“It has been made clear to the world that Iran denies its citizens the same fundamental rights it continues to applaud elsewhere in the Middle East,” US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement.

The US Treasury Department said Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi and Mohammed Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Basij Forces, were added to its Office of Foreign Assets Control blacklist.

The two officials’ join eight other Iranian government officials previously listed by Washington.

The action bans any person in the US from doing transactions with them and seeks to freeze any assets they may have under US jurisdiction. It also subjects the two officials to US State Department visa sanctions.

“The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the international community to speak out time and again,” Clinton said, adding a call for Iran to release all political prisoners and persecuted minorities.

The sanctions were imposed under an executive order signed by US President Barack Obama in September last year, which targeted human rights abuses the US said were committed by Iranian government officials.

“We continue to call upon the Iranian government to respect the rights of its people and we will continue to hold accountable those who infringe upon those universal rights,” the White House said in a statement.

Dolatabadi was blacklisted because his office has indicted a large number of protesters, including people who took part in violent anti-government demonstrations in December 2009, the Treasury said.

Eight people were killed and scores were injured in the clashes between security forces and supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi.

The US Treasury said the Tehran prosecutor general charged the protesters with moharebeh, an Islamic term meaning waging war against God, which carries a death sentence. It said Dolatabadi has denied them due process of law and his office has systematically arrested reformists, human rights activists and journalists to quash political opposition.

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