On November 23, the United States sanctioned three Iranian security officials for the ongoing crackdown on protesters. “The Iranian regime is reportedly targeting and gunning down its own children, who have taken to the street to demand a better future,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. “The abuses being committed in Iran against protestors, including most recently in Mahabad, must stop.” In November, security forces intensified operations in Kurdish areas, including the western cities of Mahabad and Sanandaj.
The Treasury Department named:
- Hassan Asgari, the governor of Sanandaj
- Alireza Moradi, the commander of Law Enforcement Forces in Sanandaj
- Mohammad Taghi Osanloo, the Revolutionary Guards Ground Forces commander for West Azerbaijan province
The sanctions froze any assets under U.S. jurisdiction held by the three men and prohibited transactions with them. The measures were imposed Executive Order 13553, issued by President Barack Obama in 2010, which authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities with respect to serious human rights abuses by the Iranian government. The following are statements from the State and Treasury Departments.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken
The United States is gravely concerned by reports that Iranian authorities are escalating violence against peaceful protesters. Today, we are taking additional action as Iranian security forces, including Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces, reportedly are stepping up their violent crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests in Iran’s Kurdistan Province and surrounding areas.
Specifically, the Department of the Treasury is designating Mohammad Taghi Osanloo, the commander of the IRGC ground forces unit in West Azerbaijan Province in Iran. The Department of the Treasury is also designating Alireza Moradi, the commander of Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) in the city of Sanandaj who reportedly ordered the mass arrest of protesters. During nationwide protests in November 2019, Moradi authorized the use of lethal weapons against unarmed protesters in Sanandaj. Lastly, the Department of the Treasury is designating Hasan Asgari, the administrator of Sanandaj and a former IRGC commander. Today’s designations were made pursuant to Executive Order 13553.
The United States continues to support the Iranian people as they protest nationwide. The human rights abuses inflicted by Iran’s government on its people must not go without consequence.
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating three Iranian security officials for the Iranian regime’s continued crackdown on ongoing protests throughout the country, including most recently in Kurdish areas. The Iranian regime has increased its aggressive actions against the Iranian people as part of its ongoing suppression of peaceful protests against a regime that denies human rights and fundamental freedoms to its people, especially women and girls.
“The Iranian regime is reportedly targeting and gunning down its own children, who have taken to the street to demand a better future,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The abuses being committed in Iran against protestors, including most recently in Mahabad, must stop.”
Today’s action is being taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13553, which authorizes sanctions on persons who have committed serious human rights abuses involving Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (LEF) were both designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 in 2011 for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election. Both the IRGC and LEF have reportedly stifled free speech in Iran through excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings, torture, denial of medical care, and enforced disappearances of unarmed protesters, including children. The individuals being sanctioned today have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of these previously designated entities.
PROTESTS IN IRAN’S KURDISH REGION
Since countrywide protests erupted after the killing of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “morality police” in September 2022, the Kurdish cities in northwestern Iran, such as Sanandaj and Mahabad, have faced a particularly severe security response. Residents describe a lockdown of their cities by military forces, as well as severe disruptions to key city services, including internet, phone, and even impacts to the water supply. Protests have endured, despite the Iranian security services’ intimidation tactics. In the past few days, dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed in the Kurdish region alone.
Today’s action targets key city officials of Sanandaj: Hassan Asgari (Asgari), the governor of Sanandaj, and Alireza Moradi (Moradi), the commander of LEF forces in Sanandaj. Prior to entering his role as governor of Sanandaj, Asgari was the commander of IRGC forces in Sanandaj. Asgari’s transition from a military role to governor is an example of the systematic spread of military control over cities. Moradi, as commander of the LEF in Sanandaj, has led the crackdown on protests in the city. When a 16-year-old protestor was reportedly killed by security forces in Sanandaj, Asgari and other officials stated she died of a drug overdose, potentially by suicide. Providing false alternative causes of death for protesters killed by security forces is a common tactic utilized by Iranian officials to evade accountability for their human rights abuses.
Asgari is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC. Moradi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the LEF.
Today’s action also targets Mohammad Taghi Osanloo (Osanloo), the IRGC Ground Forces commander that oversees Iran’s West Azerbaijan province which includes the city of Mahabad. This is considered one of the IRGC’s most important commands. In recent days, the IRGC has deployed additional forces to Kurdish cities in Iran, including Mahabad, in response to the ongoing protests.
Osanloo is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. OFAC regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897.