US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks to the media in the Press Briefing Room, at the State Department in Washington, DC, April 29, 2020. (Ronny Przysucha/US State Department)

Pompeo Announces New Iran Sanctions Over Human Rights Abuses

The US State Department on Wednesday announced new sanctions and visa restrictions on 12 Iranian individuals and entities accused of human rights abuses. A statement on behalf of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically named Tehran’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who American officials “have reason to believe gave carte blanche orders authorizing Iranian police forces to use lethal force on peaceful protesters and bystanders.” Rahmani Fazli and his immediate family members have thus been barred entry into the United States. Another individual similarly penalized is Ali Fallahian, who served as the head of Iran’s main intelligence service from 1989 to 1997. According to the State Department, he bears responsibility for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed 85 civilians. The statement further explained that the sanctions were meant as a show of support for the Iranian people, and emphasized that Washington would continue to back “their demands for transparent and accountable governance and speak out for those who are being silenced by this regime.” In this respect, the missive noted that the mullahs last November attempted to hide evidence of a major crackdown on civil unrest by imposing a near-total shutdown of the internet. This placed nearly 80 million Iranians “in digital darkness for a week while security forces killed as many as 1,500 people and arbitrarily detained thousands more.” The statement called on global technology companies to do their part to improve the free flow of information to Iranians.

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