Sep 22, 2022 - World

U.S. sanctions Iran's morality police over death of woman in custody

Dozens of people stage a demonstration to protest the death of a 22-year-old woman under custody

Protesters in Iran rally to demand justice for Mahsa Amini. Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions against Iran's morality police over the death of a woman in custody and violence against protesters.

Driving the news: Mahsa Amini, 22, died last week after being arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating a religious law requiring women to wear a headscarf. Protests over her death have since erupted in dozens of cities.

  • Police claimed Amini was not mistreated and that she died of a heart attack. Her father, Amjad Amini, told BBC Persia that she had no preexisting conditions and was only allowed to view part of her body after her death.
  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered an investigation into Amini's death.

What they're saying: "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," Yellen added.
  • President Biden on Wednesday said the U.S. stands "with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran, who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights."
  • Iranian officials have accused the U.S. and European countries of meddling in Iran's internal affairs.

The big picture: Treasury also announced sanctions against seven senior leaders of Iran's security organizations who the U.S. 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."

  • Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, reported Wednesday that seven protesters have been killed and hundreds of others injured since the demonstrations began last Friday. Hundreds have also been arrested, the group said.
  • Iranian officials have denied reports that protesters have been killed by security forces, per Reuters. Some officials have claimed without evidence that "foreign agents" are fueling the unrest, according to the New York Times.

Go deeper: Internet restricted in Iran as anti-government protests intensify

Go deeper